Since the Town Hall opened in 1858 there have been many Royal visitors to Leeds, and on most occasions a visit to the Town Hall was part of the ceremony and celebrations. This was usually for the Corporation and the Royal visitors to exchange formal greetings and 'addresses' - speeches to an invited audience. It was also often the venue for lunch, served in the Mayor's Rooms. On some of the earlier visits the Mayor put on a Ball for the royal visitor. After the opening of the Civic Hall in 1933, ceremonies associated with visits by royalty were held there rather than at the Town Hall.
Visit of Edward, Prince of Wales 1868 to open the National Fine Arts Exhibition at the new infirmary. He travelled by train to Woodlesford, and stayed at Temple Newsam as the guest of Mr. Meynell Ingram. The next day, Tuesday 19th May, the Prince drove in an open carriage to the boundary of the borough at York Road, where he was met by the Mayor, aldermen and councillors.
The route into Leeds was lined with cheering crowds. After the opening ceremony, the Prince returned to Temple Newsam, but was back in Leeds in the evening for a ball given in his honour by the Mayor, Andrew Fairbairn. The Town Hall was illuminated by rows of gas jets along the frieze of the east and south sides, with the initials of the Prince and Princess over the east door. The ball took place in the Victoria Hall, which was lavishly decorated for the occasion. Mayhall tells us that 'the entertainment was on a scale of magnificence never equalled in the north of England.' On arrival the Prince was met by the Mayor and Mayoress. He led off the dancing with the Mayoress, the Mayor having Lady Fitzwilliam as his partner.
The Prince of Wales, with Princess Alexandra, visited Leeds again in 1885 to open the Yorkshire College. Once again the Town Hall was used for part of the ceremony. In 1895, the Prince was President of the Triennial Music Festival, and he was present, with his sister Princess Louise, for the first two days at the festival which was as usual held in the Town Hall. The Prince also paid a brief visit to Leeds in 1863.
Visit of Prince Arthur 1872 to open Roundhay Park. He stayed at Harewood Houses a guest of the Earl of Harewood. The first part of the opening ceremony took place in the Victoria Hall, after which the Royal procession left for Roundhay Park. In the evening there was a ball in the Victoria Hall given by the Mayor, John Barran. The following day the Prince laid the foundation stone of the New Exchange on the site of the old Commercial buildings in Boar Lane.
Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh 1875 to open the Yorkshire Exhibition of Arts and Manufacture. The main purpose of the exhibition was to pay off the debt incurred by the building of the Mechanics Institute. The Duke of Edinburgh travelled by train to Leeds, arriving in time for lunch at Avenue House, the residence of the Mayor, H R Marsden. The Prince then went on to open the exhibition which was held in the Edinburgh Hall which had been specially erected in the central yard of the Coloured Cloth Hall. After a short rest at the Mayor's house the Duke left for the Mayor's dinner in the Town Hall. The dinner was followed by a ball in the Victoria Hall, which the Duke attended for a short time before leaving for the station and his train back to London.
Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York, 1894
to inaugurate the Yorkshire College Hall, Library and other buildings in connection with the Medical School. As in 1868 the royal party stayed at Temple Newsam. They visited the Town Hall for the presentation of addresses, and for lunch after the opening ceremony at the University.
Visit of King Edward and Queen Alexandra 1908 to open the new buildings at the University. The King and Queen arrived by train, and then travelled in an open carriage to the Town Hall, where they were presented to the Mayor (Wilfred Hepton) and Mayoress on the steps of the Town Hall. The Royal procession then went through into the Victoria Hall where an address from the Corporation was read to the King and Queen. After this they were given lunch in the Mayor's Rooms. They then left by the Calverley Street entrance and travelled to the University for the opening ceremony.
Visit of the Prince of Wales 1923. The Prince visited the Infirmary, industries in south Leeds the hospital at Beckett Park, and the University, but his first stop was at the Town Hall, where he was given lunch in the Lord Mayor's rooms.
Visit of King George and Queen Mary 1933
The King had visited Leeds in 1915, and the King and Queen in 1918 to see munitions and clothing factories, and visit Becketts Park Hospital, where men wounded in the war were cared for. A choir of 850 school children sang for them in the Victoria Hall. In 1933 the purpose of the visit was to open the new Civic Hall. The King and Queen stayed at Harewood House. The royal procession travelled from Oakwood to the Town Hall, where the King inspected the guard of honour in Victoria Square. After a short ceremony in the Victoria Hall, the Royal party went on to the Civic Hall for the opening ceremony.
Apart from visits by royalty, the Town Hall was decorated for royal occasions, like the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and King George V and Queen Mary.
|Click images to enlarge|
Lord Mayor's Ball, 1868
Menu Card for Prince of Wales visit, 1868
Menu Card for Prince of Wales visit, 1868
Ball in honour of Prince Arthur's visit, 1872
Duke of Edinburgh's Ball, 1875
Royal visit, 1908
King George and Queen Mary, 1933
Decorated for Coronation Ceremonies, 1902
Decorated for Coronation Ceremonies, 1911