Compiled and researched by Jennifer Lawler with many thanks to the staff of March Library for their help. June 2011.
This announcement appeared in The March Advertiser, Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely County Press on May 3rd 1911.
The report of the proceedings were recorded in that newspaper on May 17th 1911.
"The Chairman said that they had to decide whether they would celebrate the occasion, what manner the celebration would take, and the means of providing money for it.
It was agreed to think of the children and the aged poor and they should have a feed as at the last coronation. Money would not be raised by a rate but by voluntary public subscription.
Mr. Golden said that he would also like to see something of a more permanent character so that their children and their children's children might point to it and know on what occasion it was done. He proposed, as he had done on the last occasion, that they should erect a drinking fountain, with three branch lights, in Broad Street, for animals and human beings. Wimblington and Doddington had permanent memorials.
Mr. Jermyn Smith thought they could improve March, and benefit the working men of March, rich and poor, by the introduction of a free library. Peterborough, Wisbech and King's Lynn all had such an institution.
The two propositions were carried: That the children be fed, and the aged poor be looked after in some way or other; and that a permanent memorial should be erected. The two funds should be kept separate. It was also carried that the programme of festivities should be the same as on the last occasion, when the children had sports in Alfred Johnson's field in Badgeney.
Mr Abbs suggested a bandstand, and at the same time they should provide a club-room for the Boy Scouts. Mr G. W. Sharman said that, on behalf of the Scoutmaster, the Scouts did not want a club-room and that proposition was removed. Mr Golden felt that when Mr Carnegie had given money for free libraries, he wanted money out of the rates to support them, and the Chairman agreed.
It was decided that members of the Council would form the Committee. Various members added their names to the subscription list, and several members of the audience also put their names down."
It appears that the celebration was enjoyed by all as evidenced by these headlines on June 28th 1911, which recounted how March celebrated the Coronation of King George V on June 22nd 1911.
CORONATION DAY AT MARCH
HOW THE NATIONAL EVENT WAS CELEBRATED
FESTIVITIES FROM DAWN TILL MIDNIGHT
Ox Roasting, Street Carnival and Old English Sports.
OLD PEOPLE ENTERTAINED
STRIKING DEMONSTRATION BY OVER 2,000 CHILDREN
Telegrams to and from the King
and fom the article under them...
"As far as March is concerned, it is safe to say that every inhabitant has ample reason for feeling proud of the way in which the occasion was celebrated. Rich and poor, young and old, did their best to make the occasion one worthy of the town's reputation, and as Mr. Truman (Chairman of the March Urban District Council) remarked in the course of his speech to the assembled townspeople on Thursday afternoon, March had set an example of loyalty which might well be envied by many a larger centre. At any rate, it was an example that was not surpassed by any other town in the country. If we take a proportionate estimate, based on population, London, with its teeming millions, was not one whit more enthusiastic in its demonstration of loyalty than was March with its few thousands. Not all the pomp and ceremony of the abbey, nor all the glittering pageantry of Pall Mall, could exceed in heartiness of expression the impressive scene in Broad Street, when the national Anthem was sung by some 3,000 people and over 2,000 schoolchildren, to the accompaniment of the massed bands."
There you go... and it said a lot more. The following is a precis of the complete article.
The article praised the celebration for its expression of unwavering loyalty to the King and Country, passed on from generation to generation. 'So long as children of the country are made sensible of their noble heritage, so long will Great Britain maintain her place in the forefront of nations. It is therefore fitting and appropriate that they should always be encouraged to participate in our national rejoicings.'
The day was described as 'a long round of gaieties and enjoyment which lasted from early dawn till midnight. ' The Market Place was full of people from an early hour and filled with the smell of roasted ox. The town was decorated from one end to the other and the Market Place 'a perfect blaze of colour' with its extravagant display of flags, streamers and other decorations. The highlight was a 'triumphal archway forming an entrance to the square on the Highstreet side, surmounted by the words "God Save the King". Decoration of the town was designed and carried out by local tradesmen Messrs. Christmas & Son, Messrs. Bond & Son, Mr. A. Spragg, and Mr. W. Palmer, under the supervision of the Surveyor, Mr. W. T. Unwin. The decorations continued in a long line right down the High Street, hiding many of the residences and shops fronts with lavish patriotic displays. Streamers hung at intervals across the road, adding to the riot of red, white and blue, except for the County Court buildings which displayed a solitary flag from one of its windows. The Cooperative Stores round the corner from Broad Street was decorated and there were splashes of colour along Station Road.
The great draw of Coronation day was the roasting of the ox in the Market Place, which had been placed on the spit at about 3am. At around 6.30am Mr. T. P. Ogden, the Chairman of the Committee, addressed the crowd and said it gave him great pleasure to be there on that auspicious occasion to show their loyalty at the crowning of their most noble King George V and his beloved Queen Mary. He said grace and ate the first slice. Thousands had gathered from early in the morning to watch the carvers and cooks at work and officials had to keep moving everyone on to avoid congestion. All tickets for dining had been sold out days before. Meat was continuously sent upstairs in the Corn Exchange, to be served out on long tables for over five hours, to an estimated 1,200 diners in sittings of 150 people at a time.
A large number of people attended the united services of St Peter's Church and Providence Baptist Chapel, with representatives of the various public bodies, including Mr. H. H. Truman, Chairman of the March Urban District Council. The specially enlarged choir at St. Peter's, with its conductor Mr. J. M. Coy, was supported by an orchestra featuring many local people. The service began with 'All people that on earth do dwell' sung by the choir followed by the clergy as they entered the church. The lessons were read by the Revs. S. S. Walton and G. Sherbrooke Walker. Instead of a sermon, the Rural Dean, Rev. T. T. Peyton, gave a description of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Mr. Joseph Collingwood presided at Providence Chapel where there was a large congregation. He was supported by five Nonconformist Ministers who all took part in the service. There were 'grand and inspiring' hymns, beginning with 'O God, our help in ages past', and the two speakers, Rev. J. Lloyd James, senior Nonconformist Minister in March, and Rev. B. J. Northfield, emphasised the debt which Nonconformists owed to the King and Queen and their distinguished ancestors, who had always supported freedom of conscience and religious liberty. The Chairman said that he was pleased that the Free Churches of March had united in asking God's blessing on the King and Queen and that 'they might be long spared to us as a nation'. The service ended with the National Anthem.
As representatives of the King's Forces, the local Territorials took part in the day's celebrations with the firing of a Feu-de-joie, a rifle salute, in Broad Street, which provided a spectacular display. Captain Sharman was congratulated on the admirable way in which his men conducted themselves, with their uniforms and sidearms gleaming in the sunshine. The men having formed two ranks, the rifles rang out three times along the lines, and then with fixed bayonets the men gave the Royal salute, 'Present arms'. They concluded by placing their caps on their bayonets and raising them high in the air, giving three cheers for the King. There followed the presentation of the medal for long service and good conduct which the Commanding Officer pinned on Col.-Sergt. Inst. W. Aves who had served with the Suffolk Regiment for 20 years, and the men were dismissed.
Various sports and races took place including: egg and spoon, old age pensioners' walking race, tug-of-war, flat and obstacle races and three-legged race.
In the evening, the town was illuminated. In the Market Place and surrounding area, lights flooded the entire square, lighting up the faces of the revellers, and extended upwards so that a rosy glow could be seen in the sky above from all parts of the town. This was due to Messrs. Palmer & Co., and the installation of acetylene gas. The illuminations continued along High Street from the Griffin Hotel, which was covered in fairy lights emphasising the architecture of the building against the black sky. The light of the George Hotel, and the houses of Mr. Truman, the Misses Johnson and Mr. George Sharman were greatly admired. The garden and trees of Mr. Eggitt's house were transformed into a forest of lights with illuminated globes and Chinese lanterns. Mr. E. Davis of Elwyn Road, and Mr. Jos Taylor and Mrs. S. H. Farrington of Station road were all commended for their displays. Prizes were given in a competition for the best displays. The Bank and Bank House could not take part because they were exposed to a strong breeze.
Although intended to finish at half ten with the playing of the National Anthem by massed bands, the celebrations continued for a good number of exuberant souls with a confetti carnival and al fresco dance. A considerable number of townspeople, both young and old, stayed behind to enjoy the fun, with music by the Town Band. Festivities continued until midnight.
Amongst other organisations mentioned were the two local bands, the ringers of St. Wendreda's who rang out peals during the day, the British Women's Temperance Association who provided teas and light meals on the sports field, and the march Railway St. John Ambulance Corps who were on duty. The Committee and the public were indebted to Mr. W. Austin, Secretary to the Amusements Committee and organiser of the Carnival, for all of his hard work, 'for his service, so ungrudgingly given, and so cheerfully performed.'
Well done, March 1911. Can we surpass this in 2011?