Sheffield past and present

Royal visits

Queen Victoria in 1897

In the days when quick and easy travel was a novelty, a Royal Visit was a very special occasion requiring decoration of the town along the route of royal progression, and, apparently, the erection of archways. Queen Victoria visited Sheffield to open the new Town Hall in her Diamond Jubilee Year of 1897. Here is the report in The Times:

‘None but those who have been within the limits of Sheffield today and yesterday can realize the intense feeling of excitement which has pervaded the community and the neighbourhood and even those who know Sheffield best can hardly have recognised that usually grimy city in its gala dress of yesterday and to-day. The place lends itself admirably to the purposes of decoration, for, in the first place, it contains few, if any buildings marked by any features of beauty which it might be undesirable to conceal and, in the second place, the steep gradients of the streets cause the strings of gaudy pennons and the ropes of artificial flowers to be particularly effective. Moreover, these decorations have been under the management of a committee, which, while it has spared no legitimate expense, has so ordered matters that not only was there a harmony of tone in the whole and dazzling abundance of colour throughout, but also the best care had been taken that in no case should the gaiety of appearance acquired by the town interfere in the slightest degree with the view to be obtained of the Sovereign by spectators at any point of the long route of her procession.’

All this for a visit that was scheduled to last 3 hours.

The picture was taken in Fitzalan Square, looking towards Commercial Street.



King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1905

The next Royal Visit to Sheffield followed in 1905, this time by Victoria’s son King Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra, on the occasion of the opening of Sheffield University. On the way there (or back to the town centre) they seem to have travelled along Glossop Road, which these pictures show. Note the crowd control measures along the as yet empty street.

King Edward VII 1905


In the course of their stay they also visited several steel manufacturing plants, one of them the River Don Works of Vickers Sons and Maxims. The archway seems to have been erected on Brightside Lane, just north-east of the corner of Hawke Street.

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra 1905