Glossop Heritage Trust

The Great Jubilee Gifts to Glossop.

Glossop had changed considerably in the 50 years from Queen Victoria’s Coronation Day, on 20th June 1837. It had grown into a large cotton manufacturing town, whose population had almost doubled. Small libraries and entertainments were provided by individual mill owners for their workers and there was a small cottage hospital to treat the sick. However, it was a surprise to many that Glossop had no public institutions for the recreation of its populace of 20,000. Glossop Borough Council was in no position to build such establishments, as they had been declared bankrupt in May 1886. The Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887 was to change all this.

Herbert Rhodes was the first to announce his generous gift of £2000 in October 1886, supplemented with another £2000 by Captain Partington, for a free library and public hall. Daniel Wood quickly followed with a gift of £25,000 for a hospital, Mr and Mrs Samuel Wood with £15,000 for baths and a park and Lord Howard donated the land for all the projects.

Work commenced almost immediately on the park, baths and hospital to ensure foundations would be ready for the Queen’s jubilee in June 1887. The free library and public hall had a more troubled beginning, with a dispute over the site for the building and significant changes to the plans. However, building work finally started in May 1887 and the foundations were hurriedly completed to be ready for the auspicious day the Council had chosen to honour these generous gifts.


Saturday 30th July 1887 was chosen to celebrate “a fortune which in the same proportion has certainly not been vouchsafed to any other community in the Queen's dominions”. The whole town and surrounding district turned out to see the decorations and procession.

The town was covered in miles and miles of bunting and flags, from Rose Green to the Junction Inn. The front of the Town Hall was draped in red cloth and decorated with a large star with the letters “V” and “R”. The front of the railway station had a six foot radiating star, red and green signal flags and the lion had a fancy comforter tied around his neck. Shops all down the High Street and beyond had mottos in the window saying “success to the donors” and were decorated with cloth, stars, bark, plants, flowers and fairy lights.

The Procession

A very grand procession consisting of 4000 people gathered in Norfolk Square at 1.30pm. Chief Constable Hodgson, who had served in the Crimean War, led the way, followed by the Glossop Detachment of the 4th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers. Next were 26 carriages of dignitaries including the Mayor, Vicar, Council Officials and the Donors. At the rear of the procession were members of the many friendly societies and freemasons, from the Glossop area, in their fine regalia. Some were in costume representative of their orders like shepherds, Robin Hood and Little John.

Programme leaflet of the procession

Programme leaflet of the procession

The procession began from High Street West, up Norfolk Street, along Talbot Road, up North Road to the North entrance of park and the site of Wood’s hospital. Controversially the friendly societies, by prior arrangement, were not admitted to the park for fear their numbers would damage the newly laid gardens.

Wood’s Hospital

The first stone laying ceremony was at the site of the hospital. Daniel Wood, the donor, was not present due to ill health, so the stone was laid by the Mayor, James Sidebottom, who was his brother’s brother-in-law. In a cavity below the stone was deposited a copper canister, hermetically sealed, containing copies of the Glossop-Dale Chronicle, and three other local newspapers, the architect's description of the building, a Victoria medal, and several silver coins of the present year's date.

The Vicar of Glossop made a speech thanking the donor and presented some gifts that had been raised by subscription the week before. These were a silver trowel and mallet and an illuminated address ornamented with the Woods' crest, a representation of the hospital, a portrait of the Queen in floral border, and the arms of the borough of Glossop:

The inhabitants of the borough of Glossop desire most sincerely to express their appreciation of your noble and munificent gift made for the benefit of themselves and posterity in founding and endowing a hospital for the Borough of Glossop, to be hereafter known as "Woods’ Hospital". They deeply feel that their recognition is surpassed by the gratification that must arise to your own mind from the thought that your good work will afford succour to the afflicted, a refuge in the hour of sickness, and an alleviation of the pain of humanity. May the thankfulness and blessings of those who in future years reap the inestimable benefits of this noble institution be the reward for your charity and liberality, and may all happiness attend your future life. On behalf of the inhabitants of the Borough of Glossop, on the thirtieth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven.
(Signed), JAMES SIDEBOTTOM, Mayor.

Victoria Park

Tree planting ceremony in 1911

Tree planting ceremony in 1911

The company afterwards moved to an enclosure on the easterly side of the hospital grounds, where it was arranged that a tree should be planted by Major Sidebottom, MP, to commemorate the Victoria Park, the planned name for Howard Park. This was in honour of the land donated by Lord Howard, who was not present at the ceremonies, as his wife had very recently passed away. The Major was presented with an inscribed silver spade and an illuminated address with a floral ornamentation down the side, and his Lordship’s coat of arms and a lion, on the top:

The inhabitants of Glossop express to your Lordship their sincere thanks for the appropriation by you of land on your estate in aid of the institutions founded and works erected by generous donors in this year of the Queen's Jubilee for the future benefit and enjoyment of the residents of this borough. The free and ready bestowal by you of land for the charitable purpose of Woods’ Hospital, for the recreative enjoyment to be derived from the new park, for the physical advantages to be obtained from the public baths, and for a library and hall for mental culture and entertainment are evidences of the interest you take in the borough and in the welfare and happiness of its residents. May all happiness which this world affords be yours in your future life. On behalf of the inhabitants of the borough of Glossop this 30th day of July, 1887.
(Signed), JAMES SIDEBOTTOM, Mayor.

Wood’s Baths

The company afterwards made another move to a lower part of the park, where a young beech tree was planted by Master Samuel Hill Wood, the 15 year old son of Samuel and Anne Kershaw Wood. The young gentleman was greatly admired, especially by the ladies, while carrying out this role. He made a speech pointing out that “The tree and himself were in some points alike. They were both young, they were both Wood and they both wish to grow. He hoped the tree as it grew would have branches under which the people might take shade from the sun, and he trusted that he himself might live and be of some little use to the people of Glossop.”

Ceremony outside the baths in 1911

Ceremony outside the baths in 1911

The Town Clerk then read the following copy of an address:

The inhabitants of Glossop at this festivity in honour of the Queen's Jubilee, having the pleasure of presenting to Mr Samuel Wood the trowel wherewith to lay the foundation stone of Public Baths, and of providing for the son who bears your name the spade with which he plants a commemorative tree in the new park, cannot refrain from expressing their thanks for the benefits which you and Mrs Wood are seeking to confer, and their full estimation of the generosity and kind feeling which have prompted the direction of Public Baths and the formation of the park. It is well remembered that your father and the father of the lady who participates in your good work were the foremost amongst those who caused the expansion and development of this district, and your fellow townsmen behold with gratification the son and daughter engaged in the improvement and adornment of that town which the energies of their fathers so far tended to create. Seeking to impart happiness to others may you reap the reward to which you are entitled, and may the protection of Providence overshadow your house. On behalf of the inhabitants of the borough of Glossop on the 30th day of July, 1887,

Anne Kershaw Wood performed the stone laying at the baths, as her husband Samuel Wood was not present due to ill health. The same items, as at the hospital, were placed within the cavity of the stone. In her speech she proclaimed: “No one would enjoy those baths more than they would themselves. Cleanliness, was next to Godliness, and the next was decency. It was useless to tell people they ought to have bath when they have nothing but the blue vault of heaven for a roof. In the future they would have no excuse for uncleanliness, nor for shocking the sensitive nerves of people by impropriety.”

She hoped the people of Glossop would live closer together in love and unity, and that they would all be spared to see the completion of the works inaugurated that day, to see the sick taken care of, the healthy enjoy recreation in the park, and afterwards a refreshing bath, and those that wished to improve their minds or enjoy a dance, to find the means at hand in the library and public room that were to be opened. This completed the ceremonies within the Park and the procession left from the South entrance.

Victoria Hall

The processionists then move down Dinting Road, Lower North Road, and Spire Hollin to the site of the public hall and library. There was a large crowd gathered, even sat along high walls, to see the novel ceremony, the first Masonic ceremonial of its kind in the borough.

Herbert Rhodes, one of the donors, accepted the gifts of a silver trowel and mallet and began a lengthy speech praising the virtue of libraries, “He believed that whilst baths, parks, and hospitals were good things, yet he held that a free library was one of the first things a town ought to have. He did not wish to say a word against the park, but he was simply stating his own feeling upon the question.” and alluding to some of the issues that the donors had encountered up to this point. “He thought some of their friends were a little disappointed that all the institutions they were inaugurating that day were on the north side of High Street, West… they were obliged to build the public hall on its present site as Lord Howard would give no other site, when it was decided that the one in Victoria Street would not be suitable.”

Captain Partington was then presented with the same gifts and made a small speech before the stones were laid. In the cavity of each was placed a bottle, containing copies of the Glossop Dale Chronicle and Advertiser, together with several silver coins and a £2 piece of the present year’s date, an old penny dated 1797, the "Masonic Calendar" for 1887, the byelaws of the lodge, and a programme of the proceedings.

The foundation stones at the entrance to the Victoria Hall

The foundation stones at the entrance to the Victoria Hall

The various masonic ceremonies of applying the thumb rule, the level, and the square to the stone, were then duly performed, and it having been declared that the various craftsmen in these respects had done their duty, Herbert Rhodes gave the stone three knocks and declared it to be duly laid. The chaplain besprinkled the stone with grains of wheat from the cornucopia, as emblematic of plenty, the acting Provincial Grand Master poured wine on the stone as symbolical of cheerfulness and joy, and then oil, as emblematic of prosperity and happiness. He then sprinkled it with salt, saying, "We sprinkle the salt as the emblem of wisdom, fidelity, and perpetuity; and may the all-bounteous Author of nature blessed this district, the town, the country, and the kingdom had large with abundance of corn, and wine and oil, and all the necessaries, comforts and conveniences of life; and may the same Almighty power preserve the inhabitants in peace and unity, and brotherly love."

The stone laying ceremonies now complete the procession made its way back to Norfolk Square and dispersed.

Evening Celebrations

The celebrations carried on way into the night and from dusk the town was shining with Illuminations. There were illuminated stars, fairy lamps, and Chinese lanterns in front of the shops. At the Gas Works a very effective display was made. The outline of the offices was illuminated by means of horizontal lines of small stars, in the centre, over the gateway, being a large star.

Norfolk Square was very brilliantly lighted by means of a novelty called the "illuminator,” and may be described as a monster tar lamp. It threw up a column of flame about six feet in height and one foot in diameter, lighting up the square most thoroughly. By this means a light of 2000 candle power was produced at a cost of 2d. to 3d. per hour. The Corporation steam roller was used for working the apparatus.

The Banquet

At six o'clock the Mayor entertained a number of friends to a grand banquet in the Town Hall, which had been beautifully decorated for the occasion by Messrs Mycock and Sons, of Hyde. The windows and gallery were draped with white and red curtains, while clusters of flags and painted mirrors, adorned the walls.

Menu of the banquet

Menu of the banquet and the "wines" comprised of punch, amontillado, sherry, liebfraumilch,
champagne, Brut imperial, 1880, grand vin, Château Cos d’Estournel, liqueurs.

After dinner a total of thirty toasts and speeches were made to among others: the Queen, the Royal Family, the army and navy, the bishops and clergy, the House of Commons, the donors, the Mayor, the Council ending with the ladies.

The Deputy Mayor proposed the toast of Herbert Rhodes and Captain Partington, the donors of the library and hall. “He said he was sure they were all proud that they had gentlemen in their midst so desirous of promoting the welfare of the town as to provide a public hall. Such an institution was very much wanted for concerts and entertainments, as the largest room in the town was too small to accommodate audiences sufficiently numerous as to warrant the best talent being engaged. When they got the hall erected it would be possible to import good talent in the town, so that good entertainments could be found for the people without going to Manchester… and that the library if stocked with good books would be of great usefulness and benefit to the people in the town.” Herbert Rhodes responded by explaining the library would be used for classes in technical education as well.

Master Samuel Hill Wood responded with thanks to the toast to his father and adding “He was sure that if the baths and park brought the people pleasure the money that was being spent upon them would not be regretted. Technical classes were very good things, but if a person was not well they would not do much to improve him, and he hoped the hospital would be a means of relief for the sick and also means to get them well.”

The entertainment was provided by The Quartet Party, who sang songs throughout the night and between the toasts and speeches including: Song, "Rule Britannia," Miss Bertenshaw; duet, "Army and Navy," Messrs Blacow and Barrow; song, "The Englishman," Mr Barrow; song, "Death of Nelson," Mr Blacow; song, "Kathleen Mavoureen," Miss Conway; Quartet, "Auld Lang Syne"; quartet, "Good night, beloved." Mr Thornley (Hyde), played the accompaniments on the pianoforte in a very tasteful manner.

In that one day the people of Glossop accepted gifts totalling £50,000 of institutions that any large manufacturing town should have namely a baths, a hospital, a park and a library and public hall. It was agreed by all that “no other town that we know has done so much to make the Jubilee year for ever memorable in its history”.

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Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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