Echoes of the past: Procession to celebrate end of Crimean War

This very rare image shows one of the cards that were made available to all the people who attended the 1856 peace celebrations 161 years ago
This very rare image shows one of the cards that were made available to all the people who attended the 1856 peace celebrations 161 years ago

For over thirty years I have had a series of original letters and accounts dated May 1856.

One of the badly stained letters dated the 20 May was from Isaiah Deck who is described on his letter head as a Practical Chemist and Mineralogist, with business premises in Cambridge. So what is special significance is this letter to Brighouse?

He is described on his letter head as a Practical Chemist and Mineralogist, with business premises in Cambridge. So what is special significance is this letter to Brighouse?

The story began on May 2 1856 when Samuel Leppington of Lane Head and Mr E.T.Monk who was a partner in the firm of Burrows and Monk. Who had collected subscriptions from some of the wealthier members of the town. The purpose of this collection was to hold a large public tea celebrating the end of the Crimean War. Once having collected the money the event like any other needed organising which saw a meeting held in the Oak Room at the Royal Hotel.

One of the main organisers was Mr Fairless Barber, who sent a letter to John Brooke who was described as the Chief Constable. This was asking him to organise the meeting, which should also include members of the public who would like to attend. This meeting was held on May 21, 1856 and with a number of other meetings Brighouse’s Peace Festivities were finally arranged for May 29.

At one end of the town Charles Hanson, a local painter, was responsible for erecting a triumphal archway that was decorated with bunting, flags and evergreens. To give it that final touch it was also decorated with gas lights which were supplied by a local tradesman.

On the day itself numerous bands were engaged to play in a huge procession through the town. The procession was led by Constables carrying Maces followed by the local gentry and then the first band a Drum and Fife Band. Next came the scores of Sunday School scholars from the Church Schools, Bethel School and finally the Wesleyan Schools.

The next band was Pratt’s Brass Band followed by representatives from the Ancient Order of Shepherdesses and then the Waterloo Band. Following on were the Independent Order of Oddfellows and then the United Order of Oddfellows and two highland pipers.

With the Ancient Order of Shepherds, the Ancient Order of Gardeners the entire workforce of Sugden’s flour mill this was by far one of the largest processions seen in the town for many years.

The route they took makes the present day gala route seem almost like a Sunday stroll. Once passing through the archway at Lane Head they then made for Brookfoot and then back again but going onto

Bridge End and then on to Rastrick Common down Gooder Lane and back into Brighouse finally arriving at a triangular field where the procession spilt up into its various groups. This field I believe would probably have been Swan Field, which was located on the present day site of Sugden’s massive grain silos.

Having set off at 1 pm they arrived at the field some three and a half hours later, with everyone no doubt exhausted and ready for the tea that awaited them. It was estimated that once the procession had reached the field between 700 and 800 wives and widows dashed off to the various hotels in the town to prepare the tea that was being laid on.

At 9 pm precisely the careful prepared illuminations were lit. These were at Lane Head, the main archway, Albion Hotel, Wellington Inn, George Hotel, Oddfellows Arms, Royal Hotel, Black Bull Inn, Anchor Inn and many of the town centre shops and businesses.

You are still probably wondering what the significance of the account from Cambridge was. At 9pm it was the time when all the bands got together and began to play and the massive firework display commenced.

The firework display included what were described as Half Rockets, three coloured Roman Candles, Green Fire, Half Rockets, Two three quarter rockets, Cascade wheels, three coloured Roman Candles, red light Roman Candles, green light quarter rockets, three Roman Candles, quarter rockets and many more all of which were bought from Mr Deck’s business in Cambridge. The account is for £10.15s.6p the cost of the fireworks.

This very rare image shows one of the cards that were made available to all the people who attended the 1856 peace celebrations 161 years ago in Brighouse.