How Clitheroe celebrated Queen Victoria’s jubilees

Clitheroe Torchlight 2012 logo
Clitheroe Torchlight 2012 logo
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AS planning continues for the 2012 Clitheroe Torchlight, marking the Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Community Heritage Manager Sue Holden looks back at the way we used to celebrate...

In 1897, 115 years ago, Queen Victoria became the first British monarch to reign for 60 years.

A sixpenny ticket to Clitheroe's 1897 celebrations of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

A sixpenny ticket to Clitheroe's 1897 celebrations of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

After the success of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, Clitheroe decided to hold a bigger and better procession and at Clitheroe Library there is a copy of the original programme.

The most obvious feature of the programme are the Mock Corporations – they were everywhere! All these mock corporations were formed to parody the operations of the town’s elected officers, who weren’t always popular.

Worston has its Lord Mayor in his state chariot, attended by his cork drawer, chief bottle washer and ale taster, no doubt recruited from The Calf’s Head, which was the “council chamber” for the corporation.

According to the programme, “bull baiting was practiced here over 100 years ago by the residents and the local dogs, but the bull has been roasted and the dogs made into sausages!”

The “Royal Borough of Cheshire” has Colonel Blood as its Mayor and a lighthouse on the banks of Brewery Mill Lodge (now the site of the Highmoor Park estate) – they are planning to move the lighthouse to Peel Park, near Shaw Bridge Ship Canal.

Waterloo had its own borough and Mayor, Squire Birch with his officials – butcher, baker, blackguard, Buffalo Bill and Mexican Joe. They also had a variety of devils, including Blue devils, Latin name “Delirium Tremens”.

The Salford, Russell Street and Woone Lane areas joined up to form their own Borough with a Mayor, Robert Bowker. They had an executioner, a water bailiff, vaccination officer and a bellman. The County Borough of Bawdlands had a “Main Sewer Prize Band” whose conductor was Mons. Strong Perfumo, referring to the recently built sewage farm at Henthorn which advertised a nice sideline selling wheat grown there, no doubt fertilized by the waste products from the aforementioned sewage.

There was obviously some concern over the cost of the sewerage of Clitheroe, echoed in the “Ballad of Bawdlands” which ended with the refrain: “the grounds sinking still while our rates rise higher and higher”.

Low Moor Model Villages’ “Lilt of Low Moor” bemoaned the fact that there was no alcohol allowed in the village so “whenever they feel thirsty and wish a drink to try, they step o’er our boundary and find two pubs close by”, probably referring to The Kings Arms and The Horseshoe. The Garnett family who owned Low Moor Mill didn’t allow the sale of alcohol in the village, and as they owned the social club – or reading room as it was then – no-one had a choice. At this stage there was no mention of Percy the Low Moor Pig, so more of him later.

One of the highlights of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations although not strictly a torchlight event was the roasting of the ox in the Market Place. It was presided over by a team of roasters and numbered tickets were sold at sixpence each so that people could watch the proceedings. The winning ticket was drawn from a hat and the lucky winner received the head and horns of the ox mounted on a wooden plaque, I wonder if anyone has one of these on their wall, or in the attic?