This weekend marks the second time that Wimbledon has celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of a reigning Queen.

Back in March 1897 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, a committee of leading local residents raised funds and planned events.

They included Colonel Thomas Mitchell of Cannizaro House who said at least £1000 would be needed and donated £25 himself.

So did the Member of Parliament, Cosmor Bonsor.

Others included Gertrude Murray of Wimbledon Lodge (see Heritage story 2 December 2011), Laundy Walters, Francis Fox the engineer, Mrs Miland, donor of two local almshouses, and Alfred Halfhide, founder of the jewellery business.

The celebrations included a tea for 4000 children from elementary and Sunday schools and a dinner for around 200 elderly folk aged over 70. Those who could not attend were given money for a meal at home.

Entertainment on Wimbledon Common included fireworks, roundabouts, swings, performing dogs, Punch & Judy, a ‘burlesque’ performing donkey, a clown, brass bands, and a hot air balloon.

There were also plans to use celebration funds for an extension to Wimbledon Cottage Hospital at Copse Hill.

As you might expect, commemorative mugs were produced to celebrate Queen Victoria’s long reign since 1837. Two of these can still be seen today at the Museum of Wimbledon in 22 Ridgway, one with the inscription The Empire on which the sun never sets. The Museum also has two brass celebratory medals

A more lasting jubilee memento was the building of Victoria Crescent in the town centre between The Broadway and Hartfield Road.

Rebuilt over 100 years later in 2001 simply as The Crescent, this now runs between Morrison’s supermarket and the Odeon Cinema leading to the Piazza.

Back in 1897 a builder’s yard at No 20 The Broadway was demolished to make way for it and the new crescent opened on 8 June 1898, a year after the jubilee itself.

It later contained one of Wimbledon’s first ever charity shops, the Wimbledon Women’s Social & Political Union which sold soap and other items in support of the Suffragettes.

Another rather more short-lived means of celebrating the Queen’s 60 years on the throne was to name little girls in her honour.

Records show that vast numbers of girls were christened ‘Victoria’ but ten were actually named ‘Diamond Jubilee’.

One notable child born in nearby Wandsworth was even called ‘Diamond Jubilee Victoria’. She married one Harry Field, came to live at Cromwell Road in Wimbledon, and ran the tea bar on the platform at Wimbledon Station.

The Wimbledon Society is working with the Wimbledon Guardian to ensure that you, the readers, can share the fascinating discoveries that continue to emerge about our local heritage.

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