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1902 Coronation Day 9 August

& the end of the 2nd Boer War 31 May 1902

1902 Coronation Day 9 August

Queen Victoria died on the 22 January 1901 after a reign lasting almost 64 years. The throne passed to her eldest son, Edward. The Coronation of King Edward VII and his wife Alexandra was due to take place on 26 June 1902 but the King became ill with acute appendicitis and underwent an operation on 24 June, so all plans for the celebrations were put on hold. The Coronation took place instead on 9 August.

Stocksbridge had a Coronation Committee, responsible for organising the day, its hon. secretary being Mr. John Cutts Kenworthy. As it the nature of these things, there were lively debates, which sometimes got a bit heated, about what would happen and where the money would come from. Two days of celebrations had initially been planned for Stocksbridge and district, with Fox’s giving two days’ holidays to their workers. These days off were rescinded, and the lighting of bonfires postponed, although some children would still get their special tea parties because provisions had already been purchased.

Meanwhile the Second Boer War came to an end on Saturday 31 May 1902 with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging, the Boers accepting British sovereignty but with limited self-government. News of Peace being proclaimed reached Stocksbridge the following day when the landlord of the Coach and Horses Inn, Samuel James Moorhouse, received a telephone call from Sheffield. The news became more widely known when Monday’s newspaper came out. Flags and bunting were got out and Fox’s, local shops and houses “soon wore a gay and festive appearance.” Some of Fox’s workmen made a holiday of the event, the wire-drawing sections taking a wagonette trip to Langsett. The local newspaper commented that the men “had a most enjoyable outing, “Jem” being amongst the number, though there are no tidings as to whether he took their “Spot” with him or not,” although I am not sure what they meant. Several parties went into Sheffield to see how they were celebrating the good news. On Monday night the Old Prize Band paraded around Stocksbridge playing patriotic tunes and Tuesday evening they went down to Deepcar. At New Haywoods “much amusement was caused by the burning of the runaway ‘Oom Paul.’” [Paul Kruger, nicknamed Oom Paul (Uncle Paul) came to international prominence as the face of the Boer cause - that of the Transvaal and its neighbour the Orange Free State - against Britain during the 2nd Boer War of 1899-1902. He has been called a personification of Afrikanerdom, and remains a controversial figure; admirers venerate him as a tragic folk hero].

More peace celebrations were held a month later. On the evening of Monday 30 June the residents of New Haywoods held a Peace Rejoicing tea followed by music and dancing. On the same evening, by way of celebrating both Peace and the Penistone Feast, Hunshelf Bank hosted the Old Prize Brass Band, and Harry Newton of the Rising Sun Inn organised a foot race for boys. Hundreds of people turned up to listen to the band, but there was widespread disappointment that the bonfires were not lit. A few days later the inhabitants of Pearson Street at Horner House held their own Peace Rejoicing day on Thursday 3 July, the ladies providing a “capital tea.” The street was specially decorated for the occasion, and after tea there was music and dancing until the early hours.

The King recovered from his operation, and it was decided that, in celebration of this, the bonfires that had been built at Hunshelf and Salter Hill would be lit on Saturday 5 July at 10pm.
Large numbers of people of all ages were seen wending their way up the steep hillside from Stocksbridge, Deepcar, and the regions around Greenmoor, to a field on the highest part of Hunshelf which had been lent for the occasion by Mr. Crossland. The Old Prize Band were in attention, and some people even had the energy to dance, despite their “mountain climb.” The bonfire at Hunshelf was huge, the pile of wood being a prominent feature of the landscape for the past fortnight. Barriers were erected to keep the crowd safe, and shortly before 10pm the oldest inhabitant of Stocksbridge, John Helliwell (who was said to be 85 years old when the 1901 census was taken) lit the fire with a torch. A large cloud of black smoke immediately arose, making the spectators retreat back from the barriers. Then flames shot high into the air in a rather spectacular manner, causing the crowd to move back even further. Many people standing in the valley below also got a good view of the fire. The band struck up the National Anthem, the crowd singing along. There were supposed to have been fireworks, but there was some criticism that the Coronation Committee had failed to provide them, although some of the spectators had brought their own. Despite this, the event was judged a huge success.

Coronation Day finally arrived on Saturday 9 August. The district was decorated with flags and bunting, with the Horner House area having the best show, although the decorations of Messrs. Batty, S. Hague, C. E. Marsden, Jones, S. J. Moorhouse, and others on the main street, were also good. Church services were held and at 1.45pm the Stocksbridge Old Prize Band marched up the village to Horner House, where the pupils of the Primitive and Congregational Churches formed a procession, marching down the road to Stocksbridge Church. The Church Sunday school joined the ranks, and the growing procession headed to Old Haywoods where they were joined by the Wesleyans and Catholics. Onwards to Deepcar, where even more joined in, before heading back to Stocksbridge and down Smithy Hill to the open space in front of Fox’s. John Cutts Kenworthy and Mr. Frank Crossley mounted the temporary platform, where Mr. Kenworthy announced what was going to take place in the evening. After the National Anthem the children and their teachers took their banners and marched to their respective schools for tea. Widows and elderly people were provided with a substantial meat tea by the Co-operative Society. In the evening there was music in a field at Bocking Hill and a torchlight procession by the united choir of Stocksbridge and Deepcar, the evening ending with a fireworks display. The local paper commented that, “it cannot be said that the proceedings were so full of interest to the inhabitants generally as they might have been.” Many people went to Bolsterstone in the evening to watch a demonstration by the torchlight brigade commanded by the Reverend Cyril Edginton. Bolsterstone’s celebrations were said to be far better than those of Stocksbridge the people there having a full day of it, with the Church parade, tea (for all inhabitants), a cricket match, the torchlight military manoeuvres and music from Messrs. Rodgers’ string band.
A few days later two Stocksbridge labourers, James Mc Arthur and Patrick Horan, appeared at the West Riding Police Court in Sheffield charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting the police on Coronation Day. Two police officers found the men, who were very drunk, creating a disturbance and attempted to arrest them. One officer was bitten on the cheek, whilst the other had his toes stamped on. Tommy Bodsworth, a local carrier, came to their assistance with his wagonette, and the men were finally apprehended and taken to the police station at Deepcar. In court they said they could not remember a thing, and were sentenced to two months in prison with hard labour for the assault and fined ten shillings for drunkenness.

When the Coronation of King George V took place in 1911, the celebrations apparently “far outdid that of the previous Coronation.”

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