Echoes of the past: Royal visit in Bethel Street

Bethel Street on 22 May 1907 during a Royal visit by Princess Louise
Bethel Street on 22 May 1907 during a Royal visit by Princess Louise

With this old photograph we have to go back to 22 May 1907, the occasion of the first member of the royal family visiting Brighouse.

This was the year Princess Louise sixth child of Queen Victoria was invited to officially open the new Smith Art Gallery, which had been incorporated into the library building in Halifax Road.

Princess Louise, later the Duchess of Argyll, was seen as an excellent choice of person to open the new art gallery and quite a coup for the town. It has been written that art was her first love and once she’d persuaded the Queen that she might have her own studio – there was no holding her back. She studied hard, and became a sculptor; wanting to be taken seriously, she insisted on being paid for her work.

Sadly the royal visit did not go as well as was hoped. The carriage she travelled in was reported to have closed curtains, which meant none of the waiting and enthusiastic crowds saw her. It was reported that her official words at the opening were few and she left soon after. Such a disappointment for the crowds seen on this photograph in Bethel Street.

With bunting aloft, and young lads all sitting on the highest vantage point to ensure they saw her. So in years to come could tell their grandchildren they were there at the time, they saw the first member of the royal family to visit Brighouse. But sadly it was not to be.