Celebration of the Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of the reign of Queen Victoria, 1897.
|Type of event|| Celebration
|Town or locality||Gawler|
|Date occurred or began||July 14, 1897|
|Managed or hosted by||Corporation of the Town of Gawler|
The Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1897 was celebrated with much rejoicing and pleasure in Gawler. Although the coronation of Queen Victoria did not occur until 28 June 1838, she ascended to the throne after the death of her uncle, King William IV on 20 June 1837.
Gawler Council chose to celebrate on 14 July 1897 to coincide with the first visit to the town of the Governor, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, KCMG. A considerable amount of thought and planning went into the organisation of the event. At a public meeting convened by Council the assistance of the local friendly societies, schools and "other bodies" was sought and "readily granted". The writer (probably Mr E H Coombe) of the extensive report which appeared in The Bunyip on 16 July 1897 believed that the resulting arrangements "were in keeping with the reputation of the town". Unfortunately the weather on the day produced "blinding drizzle" causing muddy conditions in the streets and damp conditions at the Recreation Ground, the scene of the afternoon's proceedings. Even so, the celebrations went ahead but it was thought that poor conditions kept people away.
The business people of the town had been asked to decorate their premises and The Bunyip reported that Murray Street viewed from the McKinlay Monument "was a charming sight". Three decorative arches stretched across the street, the most impressive of which was that in front of the Murray Street offices of James Martin & Co. It was described as a "pretty structure" which was illuminated at night by electric light. Large white letters on a red background proclaimed on one side "Welcome To Our Governor" and "Advance Australia" and on the other "Victoria, Sixty Years Our Queen". Greenery, the skeleton of a crown and flags completed the decorations. The arch near the Town Hall was similarly festooned as was another arch located near the entrance to Murray Street. Many business premises were adorned with bunting, greenery and flags.
The Governor's train arrived at about 10am. As it crossed the Mill Inn Bridge, the first shot of a twenty-one gun salute was fired from Dr Popham's cannon. Upon arrival at the front of the Town Hall, the Governor was greeted by the Mayor (Frank Harris) and Councillors. Many dignitaries, including members of parliament and mayors from other councils, had been invited to be part of the official welcome and address which took place in the Town Hall after which they were invited to observe from the Town Hall Balcony the street parade. Approximately 1400 school children each carrying a flag, bands and representatives from local clubs, friendly societies and other organisations made their way from a starting point on Julian Terrace, along Murray and Cowan Streets to the Recreation Ground. The report in the South Australian Register of 15 July noted that the Temperance Societies were absent from the celebrations because of the Council's decision to allow the sale of liquor at the Recreation Ground.
Upon arrival at the Recreation Ground, the children formed a double semicircle between which the Governor, Mayor and other visitors were driven on their way to taking up places on the Grand Stand. From there, the Governor and the Honourable James Martin addressed the children and others present (5000 people according to the report in The Bunyip) before Mr E Lucas, President of the Gawler Institute, presented the Governor with a "handsomely bound copy of the original edition of The Song of Australia". The official ceremony was followed by refreshments for the children and sports for people of all ages.
The Governor and officials enjoyed a late luncheon in the Institute Hall, more speeches and toasts to the Queen and the Mayor, before departing on the return journey to Adelaide.
Festivities carried on into the night. May's Brass Band played from the balcony of James Martin & Co.'s Office and the street was full of people taking in the sights of Chinese lanterns in numerous places and fairy lamps on the "arch at the Town Hall". The "newly-formed dramatic society" provided the principal entertainment of the evening: a performance of The Ticket of Leave Man to a "packed" Institute Hall.
For more photos of the Celebration, click here.
- The Bunyip 16 July 1897
- South Australian Register 15 July 1897