Wednesday, 27 June 2018

A Royal Visit to Bedford

Bedford Girls’ High School, 1905 [Z1130/9/2/3/25]

Thursday 27th June 1918: Bedford has been honoured today with a visit from the King and Queen. Their Majesties arrived in Bedford on the royal train at 11.00am and were met by a reception committee including the Mayor and Mayoress, the Lord Lieutenant and Mrs. Howard Whitbread, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, the Town Clerk, the Chief Constable and the Stationmaster. A guard of honour from the Royal Engineers presented arms and the national anthem was played by the Engineers’ Band. Their Majesties’ first visit was to W.H. Allen’s engineering works where the Guard of Honour was made up of men who had been in the firing line and those who had been discharged due to wounds. A tour of the works followed, to the delight of the girls employed there. A number of engines were seen in various stages of construction, as were dynamos for electric lighting; a very brief visit was paid to the Test House, where the vibration and noise of the running engines put paid to any attempts to speak; and the tour included the Women’s Dining Hall, where the mid-day meal was being prepared. Their Majesties were offered refreshments in the Board Room. Mr. Richard Allen said later that the King had expressed very great pleasure in what he had seen, and had especially remarked on the arrangements made for the welfare of the women.

At 12.00pm the royal party made its way to the High School, where they King and Queen were cheered by the girls as they entered the school hall. Outside in the grounds were a large number of old girls in V.A.D. uniforms. A beautiful bouquet of carnations was presented to the Queen by the head girl, Kathleen Tulloch. Their Majesties were then given a tour of three classrooms where lessons were in progress. The girls of the Modern School were also present, and their head girl, Hilda Howe, gave the Queen a bouquet of sweet peas.

From the High School the King and Queen moved on to the Town Hall for a civic reception, before returning to their train at the Midland Railway station for lunch. Their final visit in the town was Bedford School. Their route from the station was lined with cheering crowds, including hundreds of school children waving Union Jacks. On the way to the School their Majesties inspected a long line of wounded soldiers and their nurses, When they arrived they were greeted by the Headmaster, before the School Corps and the Officers Training Corps presented arms. Three cheers were given for both the King and the Queen before the School Corps formed up for a “March Past”. After the staff of the School were presented individually, the party moved to the edge of the cricket pitch where the staff and senior boys of the Modern School were gathered. The King spoke to these boys regretting that they had not been able to visit the Modern School, and congratulated Bedford School on its splendid record. He announcing that he wished to give the boys of both schools an extra week’s holiday to celebrate the royal visit. The Royal party returned to the station and left Bedford at 4.00pm.

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 28th June 1918

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