This blog post has been written by Alice Coltman, a volunteer researcher assisting the Exhibition and Design team with the re-development of Station Hall.
Hi everyone. I’m Alice. I’ve recently been researching the royal trains that are on display in Station Hall. You can find out more about them on our website.
I’ve picked out some photographs that show railway stations decorated to mark the arrival of a member of the royal family, and some quotes from station staff that offer a glimpse into the preparations for a royal visit.
I hope my blog post gets you in the spirit for the Diamond Jubilee.
These crowds of people are waiting for the arrival of King Edward VII.
This action shot above shows the royal train at Lostock Junction in Bolton, Greater Manchester. It is being hauled by a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway locomotive. To the right, you can see members of the public cheering the royal train as it passes through.
King George V and Queen Mary arrive at Rochdale station in 1913. The station has been beautifully decorated with flowers.
The interior of Tilbury Riverside Station in Essex has flags strewn from the roof in preparation for a royal visit. This station opened in the 1930s and closed in the 1990s.
Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by a senior naval officer in 1960. Other dignitaries are present in the photograph, including Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (standing beside a second military officer) and Princess Margaret (standing in front of the ladies in waiting).
Our oral history archive (NAROH) contains many interviews with station workers that describe the preparations for a Royal visit. I’ve pulled out a few anecdotes for you.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s train come through and he waved to us… they put the red carpet out with all the flowers and everything on Newcastle station and that was another wonderful experience. (Station master, Newcastle)
The Queen herself came to York in 1972. We had a Guard of Honour – all the troops and a military band outside the station in Tearoom Square. (Station master, York)
An early memory of the job is being involved with the Silver Jubilee tours, and the crowds that flocked to the trackside when we were 20, 30 miles away from drop-off point, waving the Union Jacks. (Royal train manager)
A royal train was due and we had to clean a Shire. They produced all the materials which had long disappeared, emery cloth to polish buffers and couplings, some stuff, and paraffin, and bags of sponge cloths – even clean new ones, to clean this loco for the royal train, which the royalty probably never even saw. The shed foreman came round to inspect it – there was a gang of about six of us working on it. (Engine cleaner)
Just before the royal party arrived, the Secretary of State for Scotland and his wife walked up the red carpet and wondered why the crowd were laughing. It was because our house porter was walking up behind them with a carpet sweeper. (Porter)
Have you ever seen a Royal arrival at a railway station? Why not tell us your story.