Queen Victoria's Jubilee

When the first of Queen Victoria's Jubilees came in 1887, the local Vestry was unable to decide how to celebrate. A Library, a new Town Hall, the removal of a pestiferous dust heap, had all been suggested but failed to raise enthusiasm. At the last moment the local paper suggested an old fashioned Fete - cakes and tea - and Beachcroft offered the free use of his Cricket Ground.

The Paddington Jubilee Celebration, on July 7th, 1887, went off with a bang. It was a great success in every way. A massed choir of 1000 local school children sang.1 There were races and high jinks.

The Daily Telegraph reported:

'Some 1,500 old men and women and 8,500 boys and girls from some thirty Sunday and Day Schools were admitted to the ground at noon and held festival until quite late at night. An excellent hot dinner was served in the tents to the old folk. Then, after four o'clock, the youngsters and after them the old people, had tea. There was Punch and Judy, fireworks, music.

'There was more behind this movement than yesterday's enjoyable scene. Paddington has no playgrounds. A township of 120,000 souls, equal to a third rate provincial town, has no open spaces for football and cricket. Miles and miles of streets spring up each year and the green fields vanish. Mr Beachcroft and his allies conspired yesterday to demonstrate to the residents of the North-Western suburb the absolute necessity of rescuing the site for their fete as a playground for ever.'

An Historic Event at
The Paddington Recreation Ground.

Mr Du Cross and Mr Macready starting
for the first race on Dunlop Pneumatic Tires.

Subscriptions to the Fete amounted to £857.1s.lld. After providing for all the expenses of the Festival and for the presentation of a souvenir mug to each child, the Committee was still able to hand over a substantial balance to Paddington Children's Hospital.


The 1887 Slump

That same year as the Jubilee there was a slump and great unemployment all over Britain. This was the period when Tom Mann said in a speech that he had a vision - a vision of the ‘Docker's Tanner’ - Dockers would be paid a full sixpence an hour. This was for casual labour, so that some days the dockers went to the dock gates and failed to be taken on, even at less than sixpence an hour. In 1887, these conditions were made worse by the general slump. There was no work for thousands, and this in a world where there was no Unemployment Pay or Old Age Pension.


  1. There is a photograph of this mass choir in the Westminster City Archives
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Updated July 5, 2011