When crowds flocked to Heckmondwike

ROYAL WALKABOUT A mounted police officer clears the way along Westgate for the royal visit in 1912.
ROYAL WALKABOUT A mounted police officer clears the way along Westgate for the royal visit in 1912.
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Last week’s Spenborough Guardian headlines brought promises of a bumper year for Heckmondwike as lots of things are planned for the town.

The Heckmondwike Business Alliance and the Crown of Lights music festival organisers are hopeful that their various events, which include music, craft fair, summer beach party, a maypole and classic car and motorbike shows will bring people flocking into the town.

RED CARPET Crowds gather around the Memorial clock for the 1918 visit by the King and Queen.

RED CARPET Crowds gather around the Memorial clock for the 1918 visit by the King and Queen.

So this week, we thought we would delve into the pages of Norman Ellis’s Images of England – Spen Valley to show how packed the town used to be for special events in the last century.

All three pictures are of royal visits, so it’s hardly surprising that they brought out the crowds.

The first two pictures are of the visit by King George V and Queen Mary as part of their tour of the West Riding on July 10, 1912.

The royal party arrived in Heckmondwike from Batley by late afternoon, and the first picture shows a mounted policeman clearing the way for the royal party along Westgate. In the background are W Mitchell’s Westgate Bakery, Stead’s chemists and the Queen Hotel.

ROYAL CELEBRATION Heckmondwike folk pictured outside Althams in Heckmondwike, while waiting for the royal party to arrive.

ROYAL CELEBRATION Heckmondwike folk pictured outside Althams in Heckmondwike, while waiting for the royal party to arrive.

The second picture was taken on the same day and shows the crowds gathered outside the Althams store which was at the corner of Regent Street and Westgate.

Althams was famous for its tea, but was also equally renowned for travelling requisites and railway tickets. The shop no longer exists in Heckmondwike, but there is still an Althams Travel Agency in Batley.

Our final photograph was taken six years later as the royal couple again visited Heckmondwike.

The King and Queen were undertaking a four-day wartime tour of the West Riding’s industrial towns.

The photograph shows the crowds of people around the Memorial clock as King George and Queen Mary, having emerged from the first car, are welcomed on a carpeted platform in the Market Place.