The Liverpool Pageant 1907


1207-1907, 700th Birthday celebration

Liverpool Pageant Aug 3rd, 1907





Every seat was filled in the grandstands, accommodating 4,500 people, every bit of room in the uncovered enclosure was filled.

At 2.30 pm on Saturday the proceedings began. A few minutes before the Mayor and Lady Mayoress drove in state into the arena, carriages followed in their train the occupants of which included Lord and Lady DERBY [of whose forbearers played an important part in the city's history], Lord LATHOM, Sir William TATE [High Sheriff]. The Mayor and Mayoresses of all the neighbouring towns and our guests of Liverpool's Chief Magistrate at an inaugural luncheon at the Town Hall these honoured visitors took their places with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress on the centre-grandstand

Mayors attending

Mr H. HOPTROFF, Mayor of Crewe

Mr S. OWEN, Mayor of Widnes

Mr W. E. ORD, Mayor of Preston

Alderman E. JONES JP, Mayor of Rochdale

Mr and Mrs W. V. BLACK, Mayor and Mayoress of East Liverpool, Ohio

Mr R. B. CHAMBER, Mayor of Derby

Mr James SMETHURST, Mayor of Warrington

Mr RUTHERFORD, Mayor of Bootle

Alderman FRANKENBURG, Mayor of Salford

Mr T. T. FRANKLIN, Mayor of Blackburn

The show consisted of twelve periods and six episodes. The periods a representation of the chief events in the city�s history, in the form of allegorical cars, banners and trophies, the rolls of the actors in these themes assumed by citizens who donned the garb of the different times. The episodes, enactments of local incidents that left a mark on the city's history. The affair one-third of a mile in length and in which 1,500 people took part.

The procession first of all passed through Wavertree Park, the arena at this time on Edge Lane [Edge Lane Hall Estate} was occupied by 2,000 school children performing physical exercises based on the Swedish system. The Children dressed in white with different coloured sashes, black stockings and white shoes. Directed by Sgt PATTERSON were put through a series of evolutions the precision and briskness of which was marvellous. Combined with a charming colour effect the movements were fascinating 4,000 arms went up and down together resembling the rise and fall of the sea waves. The "bounce" was performed in unison converting the human sprightliness into a huge bobbing platform the interlacing gyrations dazzled like a bewildering kaleidoscope. Spectators burst into applause and were thrilled with delight. Never before had so large a number of children given such a display. By the time this item had concluded the procession had finished its tour round the park and had entered the arena.

Map of Arena

A stirring fanfare sounded by the heralds announced its approach. As period 1 passed the grandstand the choir of 1,000 voices led by the City Police Band rendered William WATSON'S, "Anniversary Ode". The onlookers were taken back by the moving picture before them to post pre-historic times.

Before Liverpool was, Ancient Britons, Norsemen and Saxons moving in solemn procession to the strains of beautiful music. This was "the beginning of things", in the city's history when a primeval race of Celt a Calder stones [Wavertree]. The review of seven centuries begins with Period 11. The historical outline and succeeding periods show the city's career to the present day.

The granting of the Charter by King John, the building of Liverpool Castle, the visit of King Edward 11 in 1324, early life of the town, the various charters granted, the construction of the first dock, the great commercial development during the later half of the last century, her trade with the world and present eminence are depicted in the characters. Gorgeous symbolic cars each bearing its historical tableau the quaint costume of the people and resplendent dress of the nobles, mounted knights in armour, warriors bold armed with weapons of the period, allegorical banners, flags and bannerettes, contribute to the inspiring aspect of the moving spectacle.

The Grand Finale, is brilliant and inspiring 1.500 characters enter the arena, with the grand car of Liverpool hovering in the centre, making a gorgeous picture, an inspiring tableau, the beauty and majesty of which appeals strongly to the imagination as the choir sing "Land of Hope and Glory".

It is the second period, the time of the Normans and Plantagenets that Liverpool first comes into the picture. Though the city has not the honour of being mentioned in the Doomsday Book, as then more important places as West Kirby, Everton, Kirkdale, Bootle and Esmedune [Smithdown] do find their moment of antiquity. West Derby indeed being a Royal Manor and held up to his death by Edward the Confessor who built a castle here. This is the period of the centre figure of the pageant, King John himself who in the regretted absence of the Town Clerk Mr PICKMERE through an accident was ably personified by Professor MUIR one of the promoters. These are the days of chivalry and glitter of mail-clad squire attended knights on heavy chargers, heralds, banners, pages and monks.

Dated AD 1,000 rides astride his charger, Henry de Ferrers [A. D. HARPER], who visited south west Lancashire as a member of the Doomsday commission, then two Norman knights in full armour, four attendant squires and two scribes with inkhorns and scrolls. The banner of Edward the Confessor precedes the banners of Crosby, Everton, Litherland, Bootle, Walton and Toxteth, next rides in state the earliest landlord of Liverpool Sir Roger de Poiton [Mr G. HEWITT] who rented the lands between the Ribble and the Mersey including the site of Liverpool by the conqueror only to be ejected, later on by Henry 1.

Then comes Goisfred [Mr S BROOKFIELD] the Sheriff of Lancaster under William Rufus who granted the Manor of Garston to the Monastery of Shrewbury, and Henry Fitzwarine the Falconer [Mr G. A. CAIN] who in 1193 got the grant of the Lordship of Liverpool by Prince John, in consideration of the annual provision of falcons for the Royal sport, and with whom the king in 1207, perceiving the possibilities of a seaport, bargained for its return in exchange for land near Preston.

Preceded by trumpeters and heralds and the charter trophy, King John appears sealed in a canopied throne, riding in a gorgeous car designed by Mr G. W. HARRIS, and decorated in proper Norman style. Robed in red as in the Royal effigy in Winchester Cathedral, and crowned and be whiskered, the now popular monarch is attended by the steward of the West Derby Hundred [ Mr J. A. DODD], the town Reeve [Alderman TURNER] and four armed knights, and a page. He holds the famous first charter of 1207 which contained a general invitation to come to Liverpool and take up burgages or free grants of the land of the borough. Knights, soldiers, banners and bannerettes and dignity and stateliness to the scene, the chapter is further enriched by the advent of the Sheriff of Lancaster [Mr J. Wynne JONES] with the charter of Henry 111, dated 24th March 1229, which declared Liverpool a free borough for ever, and constituted the burgesses into a Merchant Guild with the exclusive right of trading in the town and with the freedom from paying tolls in all of the English seaports.

Charter of King John

The really superb picture of this period is designed by Mr P. F. GETHIN, commemorating the end of the 13C, of Birkenhead Priory in which Liverpool is now taking great pride as some compensation for past neglect. The car designed in an ecclesiastical style and drawn by a team of oxen, was one of the most pleasing. Beneath an ornamental canopy was seated the Prior [Mr F. ROUGHAN] receiving from the founder Hammond Masci [Mr H. MCARDLE] third Baron of Durham Massey and his wife [Mrs MCARDLE] a model of the Priory.

The Black Benedictines were then a power in the land. They conducted a primitive ferry between Birkenhead and Liverpool. An entourage of black hooded monks, deacons, acolytes and pages supported the Prior, the tout ensemble giving a sensation of a sudden transition into the middle ages, a rude obliteration of the centuries and a bringing together, of the infant Cathedral of the 20C the venerable pile of the 13C now a mouldering ruin. The choral contributions for the period were, "The Viking ship", " The song of the charter" and the "Chant of the Monks".

Days of the Barons the next period that the pageant introduces, carries the mind back to the days of the Barons. The period is announced by a banner depicting the Everton Beacon. The beacon stood on the present site of St George Church and fell in a great storm in 1803. The banner, it is shown against a sky and sea in a sunset afterglow, with a boat of the 13C on the water. The artist is Mr Isaac COOKE who is to be congratulated on the excellence of his work. Accompanying the banner is a bannerette displaying the arms of Ranulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester.

Next to greet the eye is an exceedingly handsome gilded canopy designed by Mr F. V. BURRIDGE in Early English style, and surmounted by a trophy of the Liverpool Castle. It is carried by four Masons and beneath the canopy walk, Sir William de Ferrers [Mrs H. M. ROBERTS]. The introduction of those personages directs attention to the fact that on the death of Ranulph, Earl of Chester, the ownership of Liverpool passed to his sister Agnes who married Sir William de Ferrers [afterwards Earl Ferrers and Derby]. The association of the couple to Liverpool is of more than passing interest because to them Liverpool Castle owed its erection. It was built on the top of the ridge between the river and the Pool, just about the site of the existing St Georges Cresent.

The Stanleys and the Molyneuxs

One of the most interesting episodes is the fight between the Stanleys and the Molyneuxs. This was well brought to the front in the Liverpool Pageant. The scene was laid in an open space of Liverpool, there were more open spaces in Liverpool in the 15C than now, in fact all was, or nearly so, open and beautiful, the scenes magnificent. Beeston Castle was visible from the height of Everton, and Hatton Castle, the Cheshire shore and the Welsh mountains were within eye range and could be distinctly seen, there was sward, heath and heather in all directions. The Stanleys and the Molyneuxs retainers often invaded the spot and spent a lot of time in it. Descending the heights of Edge Hill and Everton the Stanleys and the Molyneuxs retainers would occasionally meet in the small, narrow streets of Liverpool. The Retainers of one, and the other great houses were sometimes rude to the people, but no one then thought much of it as we would now. Grand games, good matmesbury and a quatern or two of ale makes a difference to a man. When the Stanleys and the Molyneuxs met the fight was as far as ones readings can go to which lineage had the best sack, best food, and had the most kindly manner of treatment. Such a trend of thought made men very kindly disposed and woe betide the invader of such privileges was real, there was the rough retainer the resisting citizen, there was the frequent murder, and, of course, the general melee impossible to repress on all such occasions.

The garrison of the Castle lost its temper, the citizens would not part with their dignity or independence, and the row commenced forthwith. In those days early closing had not been thought of, and such knights as the old Sir Thomas of that ilk had not been recorded in the births and deaths column of local journalism. The Stanley and Molyneux factions often had a rare time and enjoyed it to their hearts content.

Friendship restored by the Stanleys and the Molyneuxs

The passing bell indicating a tragedy was heard. The procession of monks chanting the "Miserere," was a happy relief to the comedy [in a way] which had occurred. It was a fine scene and happy were those who realised its beauty and effectiveness as many present did. The ring of "Kyrie eleison", "Lord have mercy on us," stole over the field as if a real funeral was taking place, and the old days came in a live strength in pageantry which is often copied, but unbeaten to this hour of human history. The portion of the procession which portrayed Sir Richard de Radcliffe was exceptionally fine.

Midsummer eve 1560, Reception of Queen Elizabeth
Midsummer eve revels

Nothing short of superlative delight was afforded by the Midsummer Eve Revels, indulged in by the townspeople. At the beginning there is a summons to the festival by the ringing of joy bells, a call responded to with wholesaled alacrity and heartiness. An interesting scene is presented when the townspeople having for the nonce abandoned all work, and troop into the welkin ring with shouts of, "The Queen is coming" Then from the Castle, in the direction of which all eyes are focused, emerge the Mayor, Chaplain, Mr Ralph Sekkerton, Mr John Ore [the Grammar School Master] the bailiffs and the town officials, all radiantly bedecked ready to receive the Queen Elizabeth, who is the Lady of the Manor of Liverpool, and who auspiciously enters the "Village Green" with a large retinue.

A dutiful address on behalf of the town is presented by the Mayor and then her Majesty signals for the revels to begin. The lovely car of the Rose Queen [Miss Olive JAPP daughter of the Lord Mayor] is drawn into the circle, and a right merry time ensues for the townsfolk. In their entire conception and consummation the Midsummer Eve Revelries, were voted by one and all who saw them, a brilliant success.

Scenery at the Arena, the Castle

Though curtailed a little as time was flying, the fifth episode "The surrender of Liverpool" by the Roundheads to the Royalists in 1644, received enough dramatic treatment to convey an idea of the waving of fortunes of Charles 1, an idea of the waning of fortunes of Charles 1 and the horrors of a civil and fratricidal war.

Some of the characters, a medley of costumes

The Processional Cars

Enthusiastic cheers greeted the appearance of the various cars in the procession.

The Viking boat with spearmen and oarsmen AD 800-900

Mounted on a car representing the rolling waves of the ocean, it bears a striking figurehead of a sea-dragon and carries the least amount of masts and rigging consistent with the Norsemen's idea of speed.

That Norsemen held rule about Liverpool is made certain by the local place names, of Norse and Danish origin. Thingwall "The hill of justice", West Derby, "the place of the beast". Kirkdale, Crosby, Ormskirk and Garston. They came by way of the Irish Channel towards the end of the 9C.

King John's car granting the 1st charter in AD 1207

Designed by Mr G. W. HARRIS it is built and decorated in Norsemen style. The huge canopy of white and gold supported by four fluted columns of green and white. The Kings white throne is a raised pedestal of white marble, on the lower step kneels the Steward of West Derby Hundred, receiving from the King's hand Liverpool's first charter.

The Birkenhead Priory Car AD 1200

Drawn by six mighty bullocks it makes an appropriate and expressive entrance. The best artistic talent has been devoted to designing the cars and banners, Birkenhead Priory car is an example of the artistic success by the designer Mr P. F. GETHIN.

The Everstan Mill AD 1351

The period of early trade in Liverpool is aptly introduced by the quaint and picturesque car, "The Everstan Mill" designed by Mr Charles S. HAWORTH. After the gleam and glitter of white and gold the sombre tints of grey and green moss-grown stone is particularly pleasing. The Mill , a large working model with sails was designed from a drawing of the 14C. With William FITZADAM the miller and his wife Catherine. The site of the mill first built as a water mill in 1257 was behind the present art gallery

The Tudor ship car AD 1500

A ponderous model of a ship of the period is mounted in a car resembling waves of the sea. On the panels of the decorated pedestal are the names of the great discoveries of the time, Barbary, Guinea, Cathay, Hayti, Muscovy, El Dorado, Labrador and the West Indies. The ship designed by Mr W. J. MEDCALF, is 22ft long and representative of the type used by the discoverers of the 16C. Sails decorated according to the custom of Shaw Tarleton and Geg, merchant traders of Liverpool of the time.

The car of the Rose Queen, Elizabethan period 16C

Perhaps the most beautiful car in the procession designed by Miss Constance COPEMAN and Mrs Herbert GORST. The foundation is formed of panels painted with showers of roses from this rise slender poles hidden entirely by trails of smilax. The throne in the centre of the car is a perfect bower of roses and garlands. The car is draped in pale pink and green and the beautiful horses caparisoned in pink and silver. The Rose Queen [Miss Olive JAPP] is dressed in soft pink and crowned with roses. She is surrounded by small maidens and pages, dressed in the same delicate colours, and from the back of the car three lovely rose-maidens shower rose petals in their train.

Prince Ruperts car, surrender of Liverpool AD 1600

Belongs to the period of the Civil War, when, in 1644 Prince Rupert captured the Castle of Liverpool. The tableau typifies the besieging camp of Everton by a pavilion carrying the Prince' own banner, the group of figures include Prince Rupert with attendant officers and guard, Colonel MOORE [Governor of the Castle] and the Mayor [John Williamson] who surrenders the Castle keys, attended by page and Roundhead Pikemen. Splendid dappled greys selected from the Corporation teams, attired in netted trappings of blue plush and gold lead the car, which is handsomely draped with similar colours and decorated with heraldic shields displaying the arms of Charles 1, as Sovereign of the Order of St George, his initials of Carolus Rex, also the arms of the Commonwealth. The car, trappings and tableau are designed by Mr H. Bloomfield BARE. F.R.I.B.A.

The Slave Trade car AD 1709 Of pathetic interest, designed by Mr G. CHOWNE, manacles and fetters hang round the sides of the pedestal giving an awesome reality to the idea of slavery. Seated on the throne under a canopy of gold and brown is a draped figure typifying "wealth"holding in her hands a golden cornucopia. She is supported on either side by " slave captains" John NEWTON and John CROWE. The former commanded a slave ship while studying for the ministry and was afterwards a highly respected Liverpool divine. Behind "Wealth" stands another famous slave-trader and at each end of the car is a group of slaves.

The car of Charity

A large open platform representative of Charity is draped in blue on which hearts are embroidered, and the stone seat is ornamented with crimson hearts surrounded by laurel leaves. On the car are grouped children from Liverpool institutions and nurses in uniform round the figure of charity who holds out her hands in blessing.

Liverpool Triumphal car, current day 1907

The most striking feature of the procession is the Grand Car of Liverpool designed by Mr A. H. BAXTER. Seated in the centre on a lofty marble throne is the Goddess of Liverpool [Miss CAMERON], wearing classic robes of golden yellow. On her head a naval crown and laurel leaves, in one hand she carried a Liver Bird sceptre, the other an orb with a ship. Below her in a pedestal stand four figures typifying literature, with pen and book, science with globe and compass, art with palette and brushes, mallet, and model of building, and music with scroll and pipes. On the four corners are seated four groups each group with two figures representing the trades and industries of the city. In the front of the car is a figure of Britannia [Mrs Lyle RATHBONE] with trident of gold and crimson and gold drapery, at the back is a figure of Erin with harp. Round the base of the car is the motto of Liverpool. The car is drawn by six horses in trappings of gold. The colour scheme is one of white marble and glistening gold with touches of black. The picture banners illustrate themes of special note in the history of the town.

The Old Mail coach and 4

The first journey from Liverpool to London was made on July 25th 1785 and took about 30hrs. The first Liverpool to Prescot road was made in 1760 up to then there was no means of entrance to Liverpool for a wheeled carriage, the first stagecoach from Warrington to London started in 1757, passengers from Liverpool rode to Warrington on horseback starting from there on Monday morning and reaching London in good weather on Wednesday evening.

Liverpool in Apotheosis

The final episode was in the nature of a magnificent tableau representing the Apotheosis of Liverpool. All the characters of the last period of the procession returned to the arena in the order in which they had left, and were joined by an assembly of figures of the 700yrs, spread out over the entire ring, the stately Liverpool car towering in beauty above all else. When the actors had settled in their places a choir broke out into the song of acclamation :-

Hail! Queen and Goddess of our City

Nestling on seven hills, and ruling Mersey's tides!

Strew the posies in her way; make a merry holiday.

For in triumph see: the Goddess gaily rides.

The actors held their places till the jubilant song had finished. Then, with only a moment interval the band announced the familiar strains of Elgar's Coronation song, "Land of Hope and Glory" and the pageanters slowly moved off, joining the chorus as they went.

And so the Pageant ended.


It was dark before the pageant closed and the wind was blowing coldly, but, the great crowd remained till the National Anthem.

The final scene was lit up by 29 arc flames, 2,000 candle power each, 12, 100 candle power acetylene lamps, 2, 400 candle power Well's lights, and 4 other 800 candle power lamps, the effect was grand, and the pageant may be truthfully said to have ended in a blaze of glory.


All records broken

The fifth performance occurred on Tuesday evening with such success that all previous records were broken, nearly 20,000 people paid for admission at the gate, the total attendance was not less than 30,000. It was the "naval night" and citizens were determined the jolly men of the fleet should see the city at its best on its 700th birthday.

The Lord Mayor's guests who were included in the invitations to the civic supper occupied places of honour, the distinguished company included Admiral Lord Charles BERESFORD, the Vice Admiral, the Rear Admiral and some twenty officers. The fleet was also represented by 150 other officers, and 500 men, while our allies of Japan looked on the revelries in the persons of Commander MATSAMURA and Commander ABO.


The committee have decided to repeat the whole pageant this afternoon commencing at 5 o' clock, to cover the expenses of the extra performance the reduced prices of 2/6d and 1s will be charged for stand seats, but the rest of the accommodation around the arena and in Wavertree Park will be free, the times have been fixed for the convenience of many, and no citizen, however humble, can now complain of being excluded from the rejoicings.

Officials at the Pageant

The officers worked nobly, part of their success consisted in eliciting the enthusiastic help of a large number of well-to-do citizens. For months past they have laboured night and day, their names should be inscribed in the roll of fame :-

Mr F. J. LESLE, Chairman, Mr Frank L. JOSEPH, Vice chairman, Mr Percy F. CORKHILL, Secretary. General management, Mr James H. SIMPSON, Treasurer, Mr F. V. BURRIDGE, Art director, Mr J. G. LEGGE, Master of the childrens drill, Mr D. Arcy de FERRARS, Master of the pageant, Mr R. W. LOMAX, Stage manager, Mr G. W. HARRIS, Master of cars, Mr T. Eaton JONES, Master of the horse, Capt BLACKBURN, Mr D. E. GARNETT, Mr H. A. BRANSCOMBE and Mr F. H. BURSTALL, Musical conductors, Mr Ralph H. BAKER, Musical director, and Mrs Stephen PORTER, Mistress of the characters.

Pageant fireworks

No part of the Septcentenary celebrations gave pleasure to a greater number of people than the gorgeous display of fireworks which was given in the three largest Liverpool Parks, Sefton, Stanley and Newsham on Monday evening. That many thousands of people thronged to the parks to witness the shows may be gathered from the fact that when the shows were over it was difficult to get folks out of the grounds in less than half an hour. The grounds leading to the parks were practically impossible by vehicular traffic for upwards of a mile.

At Sefton Park the display lasted three-quarters of an hour, at Newsham many thousands enjoyed the display, whilst at Stanley Park the show attracted an extraordinary amount of attention, everything was the best, and those who saw the display went home with the conviction they had seen something which made one of the best features of the celebrations attending this unique occasion.

Commemorative Ball at the Town Hall

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress gave a ball on Wednesday evening in commemoration of Liverpool's 700th birthday, at which was entertained Admiral Lord Charles BERESFORD and officers of the Channel Fleet. Invitations had been eagerly anticipated and acceptances were so numerous that special arrangements had to be made in the civic mansion. The large and small ballrooms upstairs were quite adequate. The Old Cotton Exchange was utilised as a supper-room. The floral decorations were delightful, the banks of cool blossoms in the ballrooms much admired. The crimson covered stairway was bordered with tall lilies and hydrangea, overhead were innumerable coloured lights. Dress was very dainty and appropriate for a summer ball, and the gleams of gold and occasional splashes of vivid red broke the monotony of the gentlemen's black coats.

August 3rd 1907

Beautiful banner from East Liverpool, Ohio

The Mayor and Mayoress of East Liverpool, Ohio [Mr and Mrs W. V. BLAKE] arrived in Liverpool on Monday and paid a visit to the Liverpool Town Hall, en route to Prescot, where they will remain the guests of friends during the pageant celebrations.

They left with the Lord Mayor the gift bannerette promised some months ago by their fellow-citizens as a contribution to the pageant display. I was very neatly packed in a deal case and covered with waterproof, so that it was found in perfect condition.

The bannerette is of rich silk, surmounted by the American eagle in gilt. It bears a finely painted eagle, together with the stars and stripes and a vase, the last being typical of the staple industry of East Liverpool, Ohio.

The inscription is :-

"East Liverpool, Ohio, U. S. A, 1797-1907. Prosperity follows industry. Greeting to Liverpool from her young namesake, East Liverpool, Ohio, America's Crockery City."

Golden fringe and tassels complete a bannerette which will well bear comparison with the many already awaiting display. It has won unstinted admiration and is certain to be heartily applauded at every appearance. After the pageant arrangements will be made for its preservation in a public building.

Grand Finale
Transcriptions taken from the Liverpool Weekly Mercury and The Sphere supplement

Many thanks to Ron JOHNSON for providing me with the photographs from the Sphere Supplement, his hard work is most appreciated

Liverpool as it was during the last quarter of the 18th C, Richard BROOKE

Channel Fleet in the Mersey Aug 1907

Pageant snippets Aug 1907

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