Looking Back October 18, 2018 edition - Thousands line the decorated streets as Rugby becomes a borough
Huge thanks to Memory Lane regular Howard Trillo for writing this week’s column...
Tomorrow is the 86th anniversary of the day that Rugby became a municipal borough, entitled to have a mayor and corporation of its own. An Urban District since 1894, the King, George V, granted a Charter to the town and it was delivered on the 19th October, 1932, by Sir Austen Chamberlain, KG, PC, MP.
The day had been keenly anticipated and many people were at the boundary of the new borough, just outside Bilton, when the Charter (and Mace presented by the Rugby Advertiser) arrived in the official car at 10am, accompanied by a peal of bells from St. Andrew’s Church and the firing of maroons.
Crowds lined the be-flagged streets cheering Sir Austen and the Charter Mayor (Mr TA Wise) as they drove to the gates of Whitehall Recreation Ground, where Sir Austen laid a wreath to the Fallen, before making his way to the decorated pavilion. Suddenly, it was realised that the Charter itself was still in the official car! The Deputy Mayor raced after it in a police car and retrieved it, amid smiles from the few knowing spectators and dignitaries!
The waiting crowds had been entertained by the BTH sound van and the choirboys of St. Andrew’s and Holy Trinity churches, and now the Rugby School OTC Band played the school song, “Floreat Rugbeia,” also the motto of the new borough.
Sir Austen spoke: “Recognising the stage at which the town has now arrived, it has pleased His Majesty to grant a Charter to the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Rugby, and I have the high honour to hand this Charter to you, Mr Charter Mayor.”
The Mayor responded appropriately and, after a short service including the hymn “Now thank we all our God” sung by the vast throng of spectators, the Charter was blessed by the Bishop of Coventry.
The (200!) civic leaders and guests went off to the Co-operative Hall to enjoy a luncheon and more speeches, while the populace looked forward to the Procession that was to take place.
150 vehicles left the Fair Ground at 2.30pm, the line stretching some two miles along the route – Craven > Manor > Newbold Roads, Oliver Street > Lawford Road > Warwick Street > Hillmorton and Clifton Roads > North Street. Every firm (BTH, Willans, Portland Cement, Sam Robbins, etc.), every service (Police, GPO, Fire Brigades, the Gas Company), every social group (Trade Unions, the Buffaloes, Friendly Societies, Scouts, Guides and the like) were represented in the vast array of imaginative tableaux, industrial and architectural models, displays, historical themes and figures, not forgetting the two elephants that “strolled sedately along at the end” – all enjoyed by the vast crowds lining the streets in bright October sunshine.
The evening rain did not dampen the enthusiasm as people met in the town centre, under the bright lights of Overs and the Saracen’s Head, as bands played, people sang and no doubt enjoyed a festive tipple.
The schoolchildren of Rugby were given a booklet to commemorate this auspicious occasion in Rugby’s history, but when a search was made two years ago neither the Library, the Museum nor the County Record Office had one!
Recently, however, Miss Mary Hinde, former headmistress of St. Oswald’s School, generously gave her own copy to the author.
With the title “Rugby – Past, Present and Future,” it outlines the history of the town, describes the Petition for the Charter and explains the Borough Arms and Crest. It provided the inspiration for this article...
Note: there is a short film-clip online showing Sir Austen Chamberlain presenting the Charter; it can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRfXD2i-n9g