When the Prince and Princess of Wales came to Blackburn to lay the foundation stone of the technical college in May 1888, businesses and homeowners with large front rooms with window spaces and front gardens were advertising the letting out of viewing spaces. In the days before television coverage and social media, this was the only way that you would have been able to get a chance to see the heir to the throne. This was also the first time the town had welcomed a royal visit. The places you could hire extended along Preston New Road and King William Street which was the key route for the procession and some of these window spots claimed to offer a clear view right down to the town. The Exchange advertised the use of the five bay windows which would have offered a birds eye view of the procession as they proceeded from Blakey Moor to the town hall.
The Mail reported that the town was ‘en fete for the occasion, the royal route being one long unbroken line of Venetian masts and streamers.’ It was a beautiful sunny day when the couple arrived at Cherrytree Station at 10am where they were greeted by Lieutenant-General Fielden MP of Witton House. Here’s a photo from the Newsquest archives of the carriage with the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra arriving at Witton House which they visited first for breakfast.
Thousands of spectators were arriving in packed trains hours before and lined the route to Blakey Moor where the laying of the stone took place in ‘a monstre marquee’ where 5000 people had bought tickets for the event. The royal visitors then proceeded to the town hall, travelling alongside and then opposite the Exchange, for a mayoral lunch with about 400 civic guests.
After lunch they travelled to Blackburn train station where the crowds had moved to and massed. Here’s a link to a print on the Newsquest archive which shows people in window spaces and on the rooftops.
On 19 May The Graphic carried a half page pictorial with an artists impression of the milestone moments of the day.