Brighton Celebrates the 1911 Coronation

100 years ago, on the 22 June 1911, the country awoke on the coronation day of King George V and Queen Mary and it seems that Brighton had eagerly seized on the excuse for a celebration.

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The local press reports that preparations for the day had been intensive. Using 10,000 electric lamps a chain of  “jewelled illumination” had been erected along the 4 miles of seafront. Together with the illuminated piers this spectacle was so novel and impressive that steamer trips were run at night to allow viewing from the sea. Lights were also placed around the Aquarium, Regency Square, Victoria fountain and the Royal Pavilion, the latter had 6 foot high letters “G” and “M” picked out in lights .

Hotels had patriotic displays, and red, white and blue colour schemes were everywhere. A large “illuminated transparency” of the King and Queen with the Brighton Borough arms was erected on the Town Hall. In the evening of the 22nd there were to be firework displays from the piers and a beacon lit on the Racehill.

At ten o’clock on the day itself a solemn service was held in St. Peters attended by the Mayor, Aldermen & Councillors in full official robes, together with town officials. Music was provided by the Brighton Municipal Orchestra and the Parish Church Festival Choir.

At 11.45am there was a parade in Preston Park of all the naval and military units in the town with the firing of a Royal Salute to mark the moment of coronation. This was followed by a fusillade of rifle firing and a march-past with the salute taken by the Mayor in cocked hat and red robes, with macebearer in attendance. The Mayoress stood beside him “a study in biscuit and blue – the blue of intense, royal blueness”. It should have been quite a spectacle, but unfortunately, the Brighton weather did not hold out; not only did the sun not shine but the whole scene was shrouded in mist throughout.

Delia Ives, Volunteer Collections Media Team

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