This Day in History: 1897-06-22

Pontefract Market Place 1897On Tuesday 22nd June 1897,  celebrations for Queen Victoria‘s Diamond Jubilee commenced with ‘Dinner to the Aged Poor’. 275 people attended dinner in the Assembly Room. The dinner consisted of roast beef and plum pudding, with bread and cheese washed down with ale or aerated waters. At 2pm, school children and teachers of the town, numbering about 2000, marched from their schools to the Corn Market. Each child had received a medal at school before setting off. Groups taking part in the procession included: The Borough Band; The Pontefract Volunteers; The Fire Brigade; The St George Lodge of Oddfellows; The Pontefract Miners Association; The Old Tradesmen’s Association and ‘The Cyclists of the Town and District in Cycling Costume, on plain or decorated machines. The procession finished at Pontefract Castle where entertainments were provided for the children. At 5 o’clock, the children and teachers marched back to their schools where they were provided with tea, buns and sweet cake. At 10 o’clock that night, rockets were set off from Park Hill to signal the lighting of The Beacon Fire. Four local dignitaries each lit a corner of the Beacon and the crowd sang ‘God Save the Queen’. Around the main streets of Pontefract, crowds walked to see the beacon and rockets, accompanied by outbursts of national music. The celebrations continued well past midnight.