CLEETHORPES’ Silver Band, a resort beauty queen, a guard of honour and crowds lining the streets – September 23, 1936, was the day the town united to celebrate one of the most important dates in its history.
British monarch at the time, King Edward VIII, remains famous across the world for his abdication and subsequent marriage to divorcee Mrs Wallis Simpson. However, in Cleethorpes, he is best remembered as the King who granted the resort Charter Status – leading to a glorious celebration on that September day.
Today, 85 years on, the day is still firmly fixed in the minds of resort residents who have championed Cleethorpes – and who celebrate its emergence as a leading east coast resort with a wave of improvements taking place.
In the last three years, Government grant-supported investment has seen the revamp of Sea View Street, along with a whole raft of improvements along the seafront and there is more to follow as a Cleethorpes Masterplan is in the offing – shaping its future for the years ahead.
“We are ever proud of Cleethorpes both as a wonderful resort, but also as a community with people who love where they live and care for those around them. Of those people there are many who are extremely proud of what we have here and how that Charter Day back in 1936 really instilled such pride,” said Cllr Keith Brookes, who was a former member of the old Cleethorpes Borough Council and is a long-standing resort representative on North East Lincolnshire Council.
In the years ahead Cllr Brookes and his colleagues are looking at ways in which they can pay further tribute to the people almost 90 years ago who were integral in the awarding of The Charter of Incorporation under the Great Seal of Edward VIII.
The charter, which was granted to the people of the Urban District of Cleethorpes on July 8, 1936, meant it had the distinction of being one of the few towns to be raised to Borough status during the short reign of Edward VIII. Just five months after the granting of the Borough Charter to Cleethorpes the King abdicated and subsequently assumed the title of the Duke of Windsor.
So how did this come about for Cleethorpes and what then happened?
- On January 31,1934 the Urban District Council of Cleethorpes issued a petition to King George V requesting that the monarch might grant a Charter of Incorporation to make the Urban District of Cleethorpes a Municipal Borough
- The Council was subsequently asked to submit a draft of its proposed charter and on June 16, 1936 notification was received from the new monarch, Edward VIII, that the document had been approved
- The new charter became fully effective on November 9, 1936 and in the interim plans were made to a celebrate the town’s new status with a Charter Day. The date for the official celebrations was set for Wednesday September 23, that year
- A Charter Mayor was chosen to officiate during the day’s proceedings and the man appointed was Cllr Sir George Moody. Sir George, who had played a prominent role in local government for more than 40 years, was a widower and therefore chose his daughter, Mrs Dudley Nelson, to assist with the proceedings as Charter Mayoress.
The celebration day is well documented and talks of large crowds lining the streets to welcome important dignitaries and guests who arrived:
- The first of the day’s events took place at the junction of Clee Road, Humberston Road and Weelsby Road. A large crowd gathered in the sunshine to greet Lord Heneage, the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, who had driven over from Brocklesby Park bearing the King’s writ. Lord Heneage’s car drove under a temporary ornamental arch on the Clee Road, which bore the message “Welcome to the Borough of Cleethorpes”.
- A fanfare sounded by Mr G Herbert of the Cleethorpes Branch of the British Legion heralded the arrival of Lord Heneage. A guard of honour from the Legion was drawn-up near the arch by Captain Aspinall MC and included in the ranks of the old soldiers was J D Gordon MM, who had served in the Boer War. Having inspected the veterans, Lord Heneage proceeded by car to the Pier Pavilion where the Charter Mayor entertained a large group to lunch.
- At the entrance to the pier, the Charter Mayor and Lord Heneage were met by Mr J Harvey, Chairman of Cleethorpes Council, Mrs Harvey, and other members of the council. The Chairman read an address of welcome to Lord Heneage and presented him with a bound copy of the text in an album. Bouquets were then given to the Charter Mayoress, the Deputy Charter Mayoress (Mrs Houghton) and the wife of the Chairman by Joyce Rimington and Marie Robinson, the Beauty Princess and her deputy. Lord Heneage proposed the toast “Success to the Borough of Cleethorpes”. He then congratulated the Council on its new honour.
- The presentation of the charter took place in Sidney Park and the Grimsby Evening Telegraph reported that “All space available for the public was packed long before the strains of “The Lincolnshire Poacher”, played by the Cleethorpes Silver Band, and the breaking of the Borough Standard from the flagstaff near the park entrance announced the arrival of Lord Heneage…”.
- After inspecting a guard of honour from the 5th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, commanded by Captain C G Franklin, Lord Heneage and the Charter Mayor planted two scarlet oak trees in Sidney Park. The official party then proceeded to the bandstand where the Charter of Incorporation was handed to the Charter Mayor by Lord Heneage. A choir of children sang, accompanied by the Cleethorpes Silver Band. The day of celebrations concluded with a Charter Ball at the Pier Pavilion and a firework display near the Bathing Pool.
- On Friday September 25, 1936 residents of the town over the age of 70 could claim a free tea at either St Aidan’s Church Hall or Mill Road Methodist Church Hall. On the same day, unemployed men and their wives, and those in receipt of Public Assistance, could gain free entry to the Royal and Empire Cinemas at 6.15pm and 8.30pm.
As Cllr Brookes looks at ways in which himself and others can build upon celebrations for Charter Day in years to come, he looks back to how great that day must have been: “Of course, us proud ‘Meggies’ as an administrative borough are now a part of North East Lincolnshire Council. But we will always remember our loyalties and passion for Cleethorpes whilst it was a borough in its own right and now as a splendid town within North East Lincolnshire.”
Also reflecting on Charter Day Cllr Callum Procter, the Portfolio Holder for Economy, Housing and Tourism, says the pride that was felt back in 1936, lives on today – and there’s a bright future ahead.
Cleethorpes is the jewel in the crown along our East Coast and we are building, year by year, a wonderful seaside resort that has a charm and identity of its own. Reading about the events to mark Charter Day, I can see how the honour and pride that was enjoyed then, is still reflected across our resort.”
Members of the public are invited to come along to a short service outside St Peter’s church at 2pm on Thursday 23 September when the Cleethorpes Borough flag will be raised to commemorate Cleethorpes Charter Day.
Those on Facebook can enter the Cleethorpes Charter Day competition to win some great Cleethorpes goodies including a large framed print of Cleethorpes by local artist Eve Leoni, a Dudley Donkey mug and a seagull canvas bag by Bee and the Sea Illustration. Pop over to the Discover North East Lincolnshire’s Facebook page for more info and to enter.