Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


 Royal Visit to Fleetwood 1847

From The Blackpool &Fylde Advertiser Friday 11th July 1913

when Queen Victoria came to fleetwood.

 Fleetwood, 21 September 1847; Crowds awaiting the departure of Queen Victoria by train.

WHILE Blackpool and its sister resorts on the Fylde coast to the south have just celebrated their first visit from the Reigning Monarch, Fleetwood enjoyed that high honour sixty-six years ago.

On Monday, September 20th, 1847, her late Majesty Queen Victoria, accompanied by their Royal Highnesses the Prince Consort, the Prince of Wales (the late King Edward VII.), and the Princess Royal, arrived at the Wyre Port in the Royal yacht, the Victoria and Albert, on the way from Scotland to London. The following morning, the Royal party landed and proceeded from the yacht to a special train, in which they journeyed to London. Ten thousand spectators cheered the Royal visitors on their passage from yacht to train. Times have moved rapidly since then, and probably ten times that number cheered Tuesday's Royal progress through Blackpool.

Nowhere have times moved more rapidly than on the coastline of this wide Fylde promontory, and it is of special interest to compare this Royal visit with that, to review the wonderful, phenomenal development which has taken place from Ribble to Wyre between then and now, to contrast the Fylde of September, 1847, with the Fylde of July, 1913, to place side by side the picture that greeted the eye of Queen Victoria and that which has just come under the view of King George V. In 1847, Blackpool and a very large part of the Fylde went to Fleetwood. The two coast towns had only been connected by railway less than eighteen Months before, by the opening of the Blackpool-Poulton line. This week, Fleetwood and the people of the inland Fylde, and many thousands from far beyond the confines of the Fylde have come to Blackpool, to see the Royal visitors.

The railway linked up Fleetwood with the world beyond six years before the first train came to Blackpool. When Queen Victoria went to Fleetwood, Blackpool was still but a small village of primitive habit and of less than 2,500 inhabitants. The houses were lit with oil lamps and candles. The Promenade was simply a gravel walk, not much more than a few hundred yards long, with a wooden railing along the marine side. The Local' Board was not yet formed. The "town" was part of the parish of Bispham. It is more than probable that her Majesty had never heard of the existence of Blackpool. The seeds of its wonderful prosperity and progress were then being sown by the early pioneers. Talbot-road was opened out, and Talbot Square formed three years before, these improvements being effected by Mr. John Talbot Clifton, of Lytham, the father of the present Squire Clifton, and owner of the soil. A house was pulled down to make the space for Talbot Square. The Talbot Hotel and other houses in Talbot-road were built in 1845. East of Talbot-road Station, a narrow lane meandered through green fields to Poulton. Scarcely more than a year before, when the railway was not yet opened, coaches scampered to and fro between Poulton and Blackpool—bringing visitors who could, not get further by train than the old Fylde, "Metropolis." History tells us that these coaches covered the distance in half-an-hour.

Blackpool and Lytham were very much of a size, Blackpool having slightly the advantage in the matter of population, by two or three hundred. But the railway from Kirkham to Lytham was opened rather more than two months before that between Poulton and Blackpool, the first train to Lytham running on February 16th, 1846. This train, we are told, covered the distance of five miles in fifteen minutes. Its coming marked a new era in the town's progress, just as April 29th in the same year, gave a marked impetus to Blackpool's growth. Thus, the two towns may be said to have started together on their modern race. But Blackpool soon forged ahead, and not only rapidly became the unquestioned capital of the Fylde, but caught up its far older rivals further afield, and left them, in turn, behind.


Fleetwood was already an important link in the transit system of the country. This, indeed, is well shown by the fact of Queen Victoria making use of the port in her journey from Scotland to London. It is also shown by the fact that the town was connected up with the rest of the country by railway as far back as July 15th, 1840, the work of constructing the line having been commenced about five years before. The Caledonian. Railway had not pet joined up the western route from London to the North with Glasgow. It took twelve hours to travel by rail from Euston to Carlisle. Only. a few days before Queen Victoria's journey the. Caledonian Company opened their line from Carlisle to Beattock, the farthest North to which these western trains penetrated. Thus it was that her Majesty travelled by sea from Fort William to Fleet-wood, and then continued her journey to London by rail.

The construction of the railway really- marked the beginning of things at Fleetwood. Unless, indeed, Fleetwood, under some other name, was a town many hundreds of years ago, as the discovery of an old road, commonly called the Danes' Pad, would suggest. Certainly, then as now, the Wyre Port played a part of some importance in the traffic system of the country; else. why should a road have been laid to it across the wild Fylde country? Roman relics have been found under the sand. But the site of the modern Fleetwood was a sterile warren when Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood, the lord of the manor, conceived the idea of converting it into a thriving seaport. In 1835, a number of gentlemen formed the Preston rand Wyre Railway, Harbour, and Dock Company, and, having obtained the requisite powers, deputed. Mr. Frederick Kemp, J.P., of Bispham Lodge, then acting as Sir P. H. Fleetwood's agent, to purchase land along the proposed route. Operations were commenced with little delay, and, as we have stated, the line was opened on July 15th, 1840. Naturally, a township at the Wyre Port sprang into existence simultaneously, and, of course, it took the name of Fleetwood.

It is easy to see what a great influence this opening out of the Wyre for commercial purposes has had upon the development of the whole of the Fylde coast. In its route from Preston, the railway was brought into tire, heart of the Fylde, through Kirkham and Poulton, and. then along the left bank of the river to the Wyre Harbour. Poulton became the key to Blackpool, and Kirkham the key to Lytham. Both these coast towns grew so rapidly, now that the railway, thanks to Sir P. H. Fleetwood's enterprise, was within hailing distance, so to speak, that each was, within the short space of six years, the terminus of a separate railway. It was not until April 6th, 1862, that Blackpool and Lytham were linked up by the coast railway. Had it not been for the wonderful foresight which took the railway to Fleetwood, both Blackpool and Lytham would certainly have had to wait some years longer before they were thus put into communication with the world, and their development would have been much less rapid.

Fleetwood was about ten years old when Queen Victoria landed at the Port. Fleetwood was then one of the largest places in the Fylde. Kirkham and Fleetwood were almost exactly of a size, and it is doubtful which had the advantage in the matter of population. Each bordered upon 3,000. But Fleetwood was quite the busier of the two, attracting a considerable number of visitors from all parts of Lancashire during the summer months. But those few years had witnessed extraordinary developments at the mouth of the Wyre. The first building finished and inhabited in this new town was :a beer house at the south-west corner of Church-street, which was erected in 1836-7. That small inn, or licensed dwelling was in the occupation of a person named Parker, a stonemason. The streets were marked out by the plough according to the design of Mr. Decimus Burton, a London architect, and so arranged that all the principal thoroughfares, with the exception of the main road entering the town, converged towards the largest starr hill, now known as the Mount.

In earlier days, the Mount, which was then known as Tup or Top Hill, was the favourite resort for picnic parties from Blackpool, or some of the surrounding villages, the chief attraction being the innumerable sea fowl and, their nests, the latter being scattered over the shore in endless profusion. With the growth of Fleet- wood, the gulls have been driven to seek privacy at Cockerham, where, at Gull Moss, they are still a source of attraction to Blackpool's visitors.

Fleetwood sprang into existence with the mushroom rapidity more commonly associated with American towns. House after house sprang up in the lines of the shingle-coated streets, and one year after the opening )f the railway the town had assumed considerable proportions. Dwelling-houses, hotels, shops, and a spacious wharf came into being almost as if a magic wand had been waved over the place where but a few years before the gulls nested in solitude.


When Queen Victoria visited Fleetwood, it was a town of nearly 3,000 inhabitants, larger than either Blackpool or Lytham. St. Annes had not yet come into existence. Fleetwood was the first town in the Fylde to produce a newspaper, and this, the "Fleetwood Chronicle," in its issue of Friday, September 24th, 1847, published a full and picturesque description of the arrival by sea and departure by rail of her Majesty, and the brilliant Royal entourage. The "Fleetwood, Chronicle," which was the forerunner of the modern "Blackpool Herald," and "Fleetwood Chronicle," was then not quite as large as a single sheet of the issue to-day, and the price was 3d., each copy bearing a penny duty stamp. The full title of the paper was "The Fleetwood Chronicle and General Advertiser for Blackpool, Poulton, Kirkham, Lytham, Ulverston, and Lonsdale North of the Sands."

This journal, a copy of which, printed in gold, was presented to her Majesty, was the first to publish the news that Queen Victoria and her suite intended to make Fleetwood the place of debarkation on her Majesty's return from Scotland, and the information, which was copied into practically every newspaper in the country, created the greatest excitement in Lancashire. Even three days before the arrival of the Royal Squadron, so uncertain was travel in those days, there seemed to be some considerable doubt as to when the Royal visit would actually take place. On the Friday before, we read in the "Fleetwood Chronicle": "We have now the best authority for stating that the Royal Squadron will not leave Fort William before this day (Friday) at the earliest, and therefore cannot arrive here before Sunday or Monday evening." This proved, to be perfectly, correct.

It was a quarter past seven on the Monday evening, and the shades of evening had closed in, when the Royal yacht turned gracefully round the steep breast in front of the North Euston Hotel. "The numerous lights which shone from her ample ports," we read in the "Chronicle," "and from the windows of her Majesty's rotunda on deck, appeared to vie with the more lofty and imposing illumined front of the hotel, which seemed to smile upon it, and greatly do we lament that the sudden indisposition of both the artists whom we had engaged to prepare drawings of the Royal Squadron at this interesting moment, has prevented our being able to present our readers this week with a sketch of the exciting scene, now witnessed by the assembled thousands, amidst the hearty cheering of the crowd, and inspiring influence of a Royal salute which was fired from the lower lighthouse."

The vessels rounded the steep breast in the following order. We quote from the report, and the archaisms are interesting to note. The "Victoria and Albert," Royal steam yacht, 430 horses' power, captain the Right Hon. the Lord Adulphus Fitzelarence, commodore of the Squadron; "Black Eagle," a fine steam yacht of 260 horses' power; "Fairy," a beautiful little screw propeller (her Majesty's river yacht); "Garland," 128 horses' power; "Undine," steam tender, 110 horses' power; and "Scourge," magnificent steam frigate. The "Scourge," which carried the largest mortar in the world, in addition to having a 68-pounder swivel gun, seems to have fouled the Royal yacht and done seine little damage. But the "Chronicle" hastens to contradict the "hasty and exaggerated statements made by all the papers," and points out that the only damage was caused by the vessel swinging round and slightly touching the lifebuoy in the stern of the Royal yacht, and bending the iron. "This has been magnified by our contemporaries into carrying away the quarter gallery of the "Victoria and Albert," which would have greatly alarmed her Majesty, who, so far from being alarmed, was not aware that the yacht had been touched."


The spot fixed for the debarkation of the Royal party was near the north end of the covered pier, over 100 feet of which were boarded off and converted into a saloon, a covered gallery being erected leading from it to the railway, where the special train was stationed. At the entrance to the saloon a beautiful triumphal arch was formed of various coloured draperies, and adorned with the national flag and other emblems of loyalty. The walls of the saloon were hung with white, and coloured draperies festooned with evergreens, and British ensigns were suspended from the roof. This elegant apartment contained a gallery for ladies at one end, and near to the entrance was a small octagonal throne, having an ascent of three steps, upon which a hand-some gilded chair of state and a footstool were placed, with crimson cloth surmounted by the arms of her Majesty behind.

It was a great and memorable week-end for Fleetwood and the Fylde. Many distinguished visitors whose names appear in that old issue of the "Fleetwood Chronicle," stayed at the North Euston Hotel. On the Sunday, the High Sheriff of the County, Mr. William Gale, of Lightburn House, near Ulverston, who had arrived' in order to receive her Majesty, attended divine worship at St. Peter's Church, being driven there in his state carriage, drawn by four splendid greys and preceded by his trumpeters and twenty-four javelin men with halberd's.

 The Royal Yacht,

Monday was ushered in with boisterous winds and a cloudy sky, but fortunately for the thousands who crowded into the town —special trains were run to Fleetwood—"from Yorkshire, Manchester, and intermediate localities," the weather considerably improved as the day advanced. All the ships in the harbour were dressed, and flags floated from the windows of nearly every house. A little after three o'clock in the afternoon the report of a signal gun announced that the Royal Squadron was in sight, and as the vessels steamed up the channel in the dusk a few hours later, the North Euston Hotel and the Pier burst out into brilliant illuminations.

As soon as the Royal yacht had been safely moored to the quay, opposite the triumphal arch, the High Sheriff, Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Arbuthnot, K.C.B., Sir P. H. Fleet-wood, Bart., Major-General Sir William Warre, Mr. John Wilson-Patten, M.P., the Rev. St. Vincent Beechey, incumbent of Fleetwood, Mr. Henry Houldsworth, Chair-man of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, Mr. George Wilson, Deputy-Chairman, and Mr. Thomas H. Higgis, managing director of the Preston and Wyre district, presented their cards, and explained to Capt. Beechey the arrangements for her Majesty's conveyance to London. Afterwards Sir P. H. Fleetwood, the Rev. St. Vincent Beechey, Mr. Frederick Kemp, and Mr. James Crombleholme, of Fleetwood, and Mr. Daniel Elletson, of Parrox Hall, were admitted to an interview with Lord Palmerston, kinsman of Mr. Wilfrid W. Ashley, the present Member of Parliament for ale Blackpool Division. On behalf of her Majesty, Lord Palmerston received the following address, printed in gold on white satin, from the inhabitants of Fleetwood, promising that it should be laid before the Queen :-

of the

To Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen,
May it Please Your Majesty,
We, the Inhabitants of the Town of Fleetwood, in the County of Lancaster, desire to approach your Majesty on this auspicious occasion, with the most sincere expression of our devoted loyalty and attachment to your Majesty, of our deep respect and esteem for your Majesty's august Consort, for his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and the other members of the Royal Family. We beg to assure your Majesty that it is with feelings of the liveliest gratitude that we hail this Royal visit to our humble shores, now for the first time pressed by the foot of Sovereignty.
We rejoice to think that it has fallen to our happy lot to be the first to welcome the Queen of England to her own Royal Patrimony in the Duchy of Lancaster.

We hasten to lay at your Majesty's feet, the dutiful allegiance of the inhabitants of the youngest Town and Port in all your Majesty's dominions, which dates its existence from the very year in which your Majesty first. ascended the Throne of these realms, and which from the barren and uninhabited sands of the Fylde of Lancashire, has already obtained some importance for its Town of 3,000 inhabitants, its Watering-place Harbour, and Railway, together with its College for the sons of clergymen and other gentlemen.

We sincerely trust that the natural facilities and local arrangements of this Port may be found such as shall conduce to the safety, comfort, and convenience of your Majesty in your Royal progress. And we beseech your Majesty to receive our united and solemn assurance, that whatever progress our Harbour and Town may make in wealth and importance, it shall ever be our firmest determination and most earnest prayer, that we may never cease to boast of a loyal population, entertaining the same feeling of devoted duty and attachment to your Majesty and the Royal Family, which we experience at this moment, and which the grateful remembrance of this Royal visit must ever tend to keep alive in our bosoms.
Signed on behalf of the inhabitants,

Incumbent of Fleetwood. In the course of a few days the following reply was received from London:—
Whitehall, Sept. 25th, 1847. Sir,—I am directed by the Secretary, Sir George Grey, to inform you that the Loyal and Dutiful Address of the Inhabitants of Fleetwood, on the occasion of Her Majesty's late visit has been laid before the Queen, and that the same was very graciously received by her Majesty.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
Rev. St. Vincent Beechey, Incumbent of Fleetwood.


Early next morning, the saloon on the pier was occupied by the High Sheriff and "a select number of gentlemen," and shortly after ten o'clock her Majesty and the Royal party proceeded from the yacht to the special train "amid joyful acclamations which resounded from 'all parts of the shore." The moment her Majesty set foot, for the first time, on her Duchy of Lancaster, the Royal standard was lowered from the masthead of the yacht, and instantly raised on the flag staff at the custom house, where it received a salute of 21 guns. After another similar salute, as her Majesty reached the end of the gallery, the Royal party entered their saloon carriage. Mr., afterwards Sir, John Hawksworth, engineer to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, took his place on the engine, and the train moved slowly off, "followed by the ringing cheers of at least ten thousand spectators."

 The Queen and Prince Albert ashore at Fleetwood before boarding the Royal Train.

In the Royal saloon, on the train, were placed a copy of the "Fleetwood Chronicle" of the previous Friday, printed in gold; one copy each of the Manchester papers of the previous Saturday, all ironed smooth, the pages cut open, and two or three sheets of each journal held together by a silk ribbon; and the London morning papers of the previous day, held together in a similar manner.

During the time the Fleetwood address was being presented to Lord Palmerston, on the Monday evening, the Royal party "was distinctly visible through the window," we read in the "Fleetwood Chronicle," "of the favourite rotunda on the deck of the yacht, which was beautifully illuminated. The party consisted of her Majesty, who was reading a letter, the Prince of Wales, and the Princess Royal." During the evening a brilliant display of fireworks was given for the amusement of the Royal children. On the Sunday and Monday, many special trains were run from Blackpool (via Poulton), and Lytham (via Kirkham), and four steamers, "Her Majesty," "Prince of Wales," "Fenella," and "Orion," were advertised to take passengers out to meet the Royal Squadron at a fare of 10s. 6d. each.

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