Framed invitation card (No 1942) issued to Mr John Hunter for the Laying of the Tower Bridge Memorial Stone by HRH the Prince of Wales KG on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen on Monday 21 June 1886. It is signed by Edward Atkinson (Chairman of the Bridge House Estates Committee).
Charles Welch describes the unveiling of this stone in his History of the Tower Bridge…  –
“On Monday June 21st , the memorial stone of the new Tower Bridge was laid by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. In addition to the members and officers of the Corporation, invitations were sent to members of the Houses of Lords and Commons and to all the official and leading men connected with the City of London. Upwards of 200 visitors from India and the Colonies, who had come over to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, were invited to be present, and a tent was constructed to accommodate between 1500 and 1600 guests. The band of the Coldstream Guards was stationed at the south end of the pavilion, and a choir from the Guildhall School of Music under the direction of Mr Weist Hill sang selections before the commencement of the ceremony, which took place at four oclock in the afternoon.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was accompanied by their Royal Highnesses the Princess of Wales, the Prince Albert Victor and the Princesses Louise, Victoria and Maud of Wales. A company’s escort of the Life Guards accompanied His Royal Highness from Marlborough House to the Tower. On his arrival at the pavilion the Prince was received by the Lord Mayor, with the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, the Bridge House Estates Committee and the officers of the Corporation. The Bishop of London and the Secretary of State for the Home Department awaited the arrival of the Prince of Wales at the dais, where the Recorder read the following address to His Royal Highness:- [about 400 words] to which His Royal Highness made the following reply [about 140 words].
The stone having been ‘well and truly’ laid by the Prince of Wales, the Bishop of London offered a short prayer and the auspicious event was announced by the firing of a salute from the Tower guns. The chairman of the Bridge House Estates Committee presented to the Princess of Wales the emblem of the Bridge House Estates set in diamonds, which was graciously accepted. After the usual presentations the proceedings were brought to a close with the Naitinal Anthem sung by the choir of the Guildhall School of Music. The City architect, Mr. Horace Jones, shortly afterwards received the honour of knighthood.”
Reference: Welch, Charles. History of the Tower Bridge and of Other Bridges over the Thames…Smith Elder. London, 1894.
For the full text of the address to His Royal Highness and his response click here and go to pages 175-6.
At the time John Hunter was in a senior position with Sir William Arrol and Co Ltd (see https:// www.gracesguide.co.uk/John_Hunter).
This item was loaned to South Ayrshire Council for an exhibition Spanning the Centuries Sir William Arrol’s Legacy in Steel, Stone, and Culture. Roselle House Museum & Galleries, Ayr. February – May 2023.