Royal visits to Liverpool are now so routine that only a few ardent royalists tend to turn out. Back in the nineteenth century, there were fewer visits and preparations were on a far grander scale. The photograph (and detail) above were taken on the occasion of the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales in September 1881 to open the newly built Alexandra Dock.
What I like about the photograph is that it has captured the excitement of the waiting crowd. On the left is St George’s Church (where the Victoria Monument is now). A grand arch has been erected to create a spectacular entrance to the Town Hall. The Graphic magazine covered the event and produced an illustration looking out from the Town Hall.
In the detail of the top image, a photographer can be seen sitting on a ladder in anticipation of a memorable photograph. Interestingly, The Graphic also has an illustration caption Photographers Going Home – with two urchins chasing the speeding carriage. Photographs of such events pre-1890 are surprisingly rare. There are quite a few of the key buildings such as the Town Hall, the Exchange and St George’s Hall but not of events such as this Royal occasion.