Queen Victoria's Visit in 1854

1854, One of the brightest pages in the modern history of Hull was the visit paid to the town, by Queen Victoria. It had been over 200 years since the town had a royal visit. She stayed at the Railway Hotel and upholsterers had been set to work to fit  a throne-room, bed-room, drawing-room, and boudoir for the Queen; and the royal children's sitting and sleeping rooms.

Her Majesty's apartments, with those of her suite, were upon the first floor, the royal household occupying the second. The apartment situated at the south-east comer of the hotel was converted into a throne-room.

At six o'clock (on Friday evening, October 13th) the royal train entered the station, and at that moment cannon thundered forth a royal salute, and the military band played "God save the Queen."

The illuminations at night were gorgeous, and on a most magnificent scale. All the public buildings, and most of the places of worship, inns, and respectable houses, were fancifully decorated with elegant designs and devices in gas, coloured (oil) lamps, transparencies, &c, bearing loyal and appropriate mottoes. The streets were crowded with people in a manner rarely witnessed, while numberless cabs and carriages of all sorts drove along slowly.

On the following morning the Sunday School children were marched to the Station yard in three grand divisions, each battalion bearing its colours, and each child wearing a medal commemorative of the royal visit. By half-past seven they were all ranged on the series of raised steps, forming a vast amphitheatre, around the principal front of the hotel. Her Majesty and the Prince, with the royal children and suite, came out upon the balcony, and then a scene was witnessed which utterly defies description. Over the head of her Majesty was a serene sky, before her stood 10,552 children and 1,210 teachers, sending up their prayer to the throne of the Most High, that He, the Lord their God, would arise and "scatter her enemies, and make them fall." There was no heart in that vast assembly free from the deepest emotion, and her Majesty was affected even to tears. The royal cavalcade, consisting of five carriages, escorted by a party of the 7th hussars, now proceeded through the town; whilst the members of the Corporation proceeded to the Corporation Pier to give her Majesty another loyal reception prior to her embarkation. Leaving the Station-yard the procession proceeded along Carr-lane, Chariot-street, Carlisle-street, and Prospect-street, to Albion-street. Through Jarratt-street, Mason-street, Bourne-street, Charlotte-street, George-street, and Saville-street, the procession reached Whitefriargate Bridge, and passed under the triumphal arch, which stood within a foot or two of the site of the Beverley Gate. Entering the old town the royal cortege moved along Whitefriargate and Silver-street to the Market-place, where it wound round the statue of King William III., which was beautifully adorned. Passing under the other triumphal arch and through Queen Street, the royal family reached South-end, where they were received by the Corporation.

At the entrance of the Corporation Pier (since called the Victoria Pier) her Majesty was received by the Mayor, Recorder, and Town Clerk (the Mayor bearing the mace), and ushered up the roofed way of the pier, the floor of which was covered with a rich velvet pile carpet, lent for the occasion by Mr. Edwin Davis, of the Marketplace. Here the cheering of the multitude was so great that the national anthem, which was played by the military bands, could scarcely be heard. The Mayor having conducted his Sovereign to the pier-head, was retiring to a short distance, when the Queen beckoned to the Earl of Aberdeen, and after a moment's conversation with the Prime Minister, the noble Earl summoned the Mayor to attend her Majesty. Here her Majesty advanced a step towards the Mayor, and commanded him to kneel. The Mayor knelt, and the Queen, handing to the Prince of Wales the bouquet which she had borne from the carriage, pulled off her gloves, and receiving from General Grey that officer's sabre, laid it first upon the left and then upon the right shoulder of his worship, and then, her Majesty, with queenly dignity, commanded him to rise " Sir Henry Cooper." Having risen, her Majesty held out to Sir Henry Cooper her hands, and he, again kneeling, kissed them. The Earl of Aberdeen then advanced and shook his worship most heartily by the hand, and the Town-Clerk did the same. The interesting ceremony was performed close to the great lamp on the pier. After that her Majesty was pleased to request the newly-knighted Mayor, together with the Recorder, Sheriff, and Town Clerk, to accompany her in the royal steam-yacht, "Fairy," in her progress through the docks.

The royal party then descended the carpeted slope and embarked, amidst the booming of a royal salute from the guns of the " Malacca," a 17 gun corvette, laid out in the roads; and the mighty cheers of the thousands of spectators. The day was beautiful, and the river was covered with yachts, steamers, and vessels of all sizes. The rigging of the Trinity House yacht was manned by the boys of the Marine School, and presented a most interesting spectacle.

The progress through the docks then commenced. Entering the Victoria Dock lock-pit, after a pilot steamer, the Fairy was followed by a steamer containing most of the members of the Hull Dock Company; the Harlequin, containing the Corporation; the Columbine and the Trinity House yacht; the Olive and the Queen, with merchants, tradesmen, and others. From the Victoria Dock the royal yacht proceeded up the old harbour and through the lock-pit of the Old Dock. The Fairy then continued her course swiftly through the Old and Junction Docks, only stopping at intervals, and at eleven o'clock she passed from the Humber Dock and basin into the roads, and hove towards the pier, in order to receive some of the royal household and baggage. Her Majesty and h6r Royal Consort then cordially took leave of the Mayor, Sheriff, Recorder, and Town Clerk, the Queen expressing her sense of the loyalty of her reception, and the great pleasure which that reception had given her. The royal steamer gently moved off amidst the vociferous cheers of the multitude. The royal party then paid a visit to Great Grimsby, from which place they proceeded by railway to London.

Nothing could surpass the excellence of the arrangements at the hotel or in the streets during this royal visit. All was in good taste from the first to the last. The people did their duty gloriously. The enthusiasm of the countless thousands, who had assembled from all quarters to look upon the fair face of their beloved Sovereign, was unbounded. Dense multitudes lined the footways and congregated at every available spot, as well as on the house tops, during the royal progress through the town, and cheered to the echo. The rigging of the vessels in the docks was literally alive with people, who hung on almost in spite of the laws of gravitation, and the dock sides were crowded to excess. The same rejoicing greeted the royal visitants everywhere; and everywhere flags, banners, festoons of evergreens, devices, &c, met the eye. Whitefriar-gate and the Market-place exceeded all other parts in the magnificence of decoration. The roofs of Holy Trinity Church and of some of the houses in its vicinity were crowded with spectators, which produced an odd effect. It was stated that in no other town was the Queen more entirely pleased, and even delighted, with the joyous, and at the same time elegant appropriateness of the welcome given to her. By conferring the honour of Knighthood on the Mayor, her Majesty recognised the loyalty of the inhabitants by the most distinguished and gracious approval.

A plan of the old town being that part of Hull around which the royal party steamed was presented to her Majesty by the Mayor. This was printed on white satin, and inlaid in morocco, with gold bordering, surrounded by this inscription, in letters of gold: '* Part-plan of Kingston-upon-Hull, visited by Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, October 13th and 14th, 1854—God save the Queen." The elegant mounting of this plan was executed by Mr. John Nicholson, bookseller, Low-gate.

On the evening of her Majesty's departure, there was a grand dinner at the Station Hotel, in celebration of the royal visit. Sir Henry Cooper occupied the chair.*

In the Town Hall are two fine pictures of Her Majesty and Sir Henry Cooper, painted by Mr. George Pycock Green. The Queen is represented standing, clothed in her robes of state, and from the inscription attached to the frame, we learn that the portrait was painted for the Corporaiion, by permission of her Majesty, as a memorial of her visit to Hull. Sir Henry Cooper is also represented in his Mayor's gown and chain, and standing. The inscription states that the portrait was painted for the inhabitants of Hull, "as a memorial of the satisfactory manner in which he <the Mayor) conducted the ceremonial of the reception of her Majesty Queen Victoria on the 13th of October, 1854."

A neat pamphlet has been published, containing full details of this interesting visit of Queen Victoria to Hull (compiled chiefly from the columns of the Hull Advertuer) by Mr. James Smith, journeyman printer.

The cost of the Queen's visit to the Corporation was £4,032.17s.