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Cockermouth Post Article June 2012 – Victoria’s Golden Jubilee 1887

By the time you read this the Royal Jubilee will have been well and truly celebrated in style; flags will have been waved, Jubilee street parties enjoyed throughout the land and Her Majesty will have smiled serenely throughout it all.

Back in 1887 when plans were well advanced for celebrating another royal Jubilee (the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria), every village round about seems to have had its own special plans. Keswick had a new park and suggestions were made for it to be called Jubilee or Victoria Park. Fierce opposition, however, resulted in the park being named Fitz Park. Here in Cockermouth a suggestion was made to plant trees in Main Street and Station Street, as well as embark upon the provision of several new bridges for the town. Additionally, there were to be processions, bonfires, fireworks and much partying. Such plans were not without opposition, not least because of the cost involved, and worries about who was going to foot the bill. Mr Robert Mitchell (of the auctioneering family) was clearly not going to give in without a fight regarding the costs of the celebrations. At a meeting of the Jubilee Committee he proposed a tongue-in-cheek amendment:

“I propose that we, the loyal subjects of the ancient borough of Cockermouth, do pray (but not humbly) that in consideration of having, during a period of 50 years, contributed our quota to the £385,000 annually paid to your Majesty, as well as having provided for your offspring in a lavish manner, amounting in the 50 years, at compound interest, to no less than £84,000 sterling, in addition to which, at your Majesty’s wish, provided lucrative and almost nothing-to-do situations for many of your German relatives and others – we therefore, in common reasoning, ask your Majesty to hand over one year’s income, viz. £385,000, to erect some useful and lasting memorial from a grateful Queen to her loving subjects …”

The Committee declined to allow Mr Mitchell to go any further, and Jubilee celebrations went ahead as planned; Cockermouth got its trees and new bridges (including Jubilee Bridge on Lorton Street), processions and bonfires. Meanwhile, the national and international press got wind of Mr Mitchell’s ‘amendment’, providing a source of great amusement to many readers.

Gloria Edwards

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