A Right Royal Tour of Lancashire in 1913

Harris Museum & Art Gallery, collection.

King George V and Queen Mary visited Preston on 7th July 1913, image copyright Harris Museum & Art Gallery

On the 8th July 2013 the Harris Museum & Art Gallery will host the world premiere of a new film A Right Royal Tour of Lancashire produced by North West Film Archive on the 100th anniversary of the Royal visit to Lancashire.

The 1913 Royal visit to Lancashire has always fascinated me. It is connected to one of the largest and most iconic objects in the Harris Museum collection – the Horrockses Yard Works model and was the subject or inspiration to several films by Will Onda. See my earlier post here.


The Horrockses Yard Works model in Discover Preston at the Harris Museum

Horrockses cotton manufacturers made this magnificent model of their Preston works for the Royal visit and it was part of the Royal tour of the site. I first discovered this fact back in 2001 when working on the website Follow the Yarn. I still remember my joy at spotting the model in a very short film of the Preston visit by Will Onda in North West Film Archive. I went on to identify further items from the visit including other models, films, photographs, programmes, commemorative soaps and even biscuit tins given to Preston school children. Some of these objects be seen with the Yard Works model in Discover Preston.

The Royal visit to Lancashire was a spectacular tour which saw King George V and Queen Mary travel the length and breadth of industrial Lancashire by motor car. They visited a remarkable 37 towns and cities in just 8 days, starting at Warrington on the 7th July and ending with a procession in state carriages around Manchester and Salford on the 14th. It is hardly surprising that dozens of film makers and cinema owners like Will Onda were keen to capture the excitement of the occasion. Many of these films are now held by North West Film Archive in Manchester. It has been a pleasure working with North West Film Archive on their new film and exploring the history of the tour of Lancashire.

Please come and see it!

A Right Royal Tour of Lancashire – Synopsis from NWFA:

The show is a compilation of material from the local cinema newsreels of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Lancashire over an eight day period in July 1913. Using contemporary material to sketch Lancashire life, we will look at the industries and lives of the people of the County, before following the Royal couple as they visit Pilkington’s Glass works St Helens, Horrockses Mill Preston, Blackpool, Colne, Burnley and Bacup, before heading on to Rochdale, Chorley, Bolton, Middleton, Atherton and Leigh, and finishing in Manchester on the final day of the tour. Set against a time of national tension, and with the activities of the suffrage movement and wider global politics in the minds of many, the King and Queen covered 220 miles on an extensive visit to over 30 towns and cities to find out more about the people of this important County which was a powerhouse of the Empire. Join the cheering crowds as they thronged the decorated streets to have a glimpse of the King and Queen on their first tour of the area since the Coronation in 1911.

There are five public screenings of the film at the following venues;

The Harris Museum and Art Gallery Preston on Monday 8th July at 2pm and 7pm
The Royal Court Theatre Bacup on Tuesday 9th July at 7.30pm
The Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Colne on Wednesday 10th July at 7.30pm
The Parbold Picture House on Tuesday 16th July at 7.30pm. T: 01257 464533 : parboldpicturehouse@googlemail.com

These shows are part of the BFI Funded Project – Pennine Lancashire – a reel history.

In addition to all this, if I hadn’t done enough to mark the anniversary there will be several other connected events at the Harris Museum!

Saturday 6th July join in a host of fun activities and events as part our family day A Right Royal Visit – I am hoping to screen on a loop Will Onda’s full film of the visit to Preston Town Hall from the BFI collection on this day in the Discovery Room.

Wednesday 10th July 2013 I will be giving a free short talk beside the Horrockses model on it’s 100th anniversary at 1pm.

Wednesday 10th July 7pm Join me for my first Discover Preston evening lecture on the tour – A Right Royal Performance – the King’s tour of Lancashire in 1913. Covering some of the places, highlights and some of the controversy around the visit. Details here.

If anyone would like me to talk about the tour in other Lancashire venues I can be contacted on e.l.heslewood@preston.gov.uk

Finally – here is a link to the trailer for the film:

I hope to see you all soon waving your Union Jack!

About Emma Heslewood

I am a historian and museum curator with broad interests including early topical films, social and industrial history, numismatics, archaeology and WW1. I am an expert on the life and work of the Victorian acrobat and topical film maker - Will Onda.
This entry was posted in Discover Preston, Events, Film Research, Horrockses Yard Works, Preston Film Service, Uncategorized, Will Onda and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Right Royal Tour of Lancashire in 1913

  1. Frank Mort says:

    Dear Emma (if I may)
    Am a historian at Manchester University working on George V and Queen Mary 1910-1914. Geoff Senior has kindly let me see the footage of King and Queen’s tour. Interested to explore some issues further. Do we know any more about where the original newsreel footage was screened in 1913. You mentioned Royal Court Theatre Bacup and Pendle Hippodrome, Colne. But were there other places too.? Did you find any record of reactions to the newsreel? Any further info. would be v. helpful from my point of view. Can be contacted at: frank.mort@manchester.ac.uk

    Best wishes Frank

    • Hi Frank

      Sorry I have only just spotted these comments, not been on WordPress for a while.

      I only researched the route of the Royal visit and with Geoff tried to identify as many films of the visit as we could for the compilation that was created. I didn’t research where the films were screened only the one made and shown in Preston by Will Onda. I also haven’t looked for any public opinion or reaction to the films. However I doubt there will be much as topical films are generally only listed within the advert for each theatre in newspapers if they were notable. There are very few comments by journalists on Onda’s topical films in the Preston newspapers apart from during WW1.

      There is however plenty of general commentary on the 1913 Royal visit itself as it was big news in every town the King and Queen visited. I thought it was interesting to see how the visit was described and how it was depicted in the Preston film. I found the main Manchester newspaper to be the best for following the whole visit across the county. So I didn’t really need to look at the other local papers.

      Sorry I can’t be more help. Glad to hear you are interested in the Royal visit though, it’s certainly worthy of much more attention.
      Best wishes Emma

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