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Don’t rain on my Parade.

Cleethorpes loves a parade and our area has seen many – rain or no rain.

One would expect the main parade area would be the sea front but this does not appear to be necessarily true.   Grimsby Road would certainly appear to be a main contender as well, perhaps going back to the late eighteen century when the area was a mere pathway but nevertheless ran alongside a racecourse.

At that stage the foreshore from distant Lock Hill in Grimsby was the start of the Grimsby Blue Stone racing ground and it continued to where the Clee Common began which was the start of the Cleethorpes racecourse which continued towards the Clee drain outlet.

Crowds would parade to see races for ‘Horses of all ages’ on both areas. These occasions would often also include events for donkeys, sack races and general foot racing events. Such race days were very popular and attracted large crowds.  They continued into at least the 1840’s .

Being held on open ground, there was of course, no protection from the weather but rain or shine the races were always well attended!

Then came the railway into Grimsby and that area expanded quickly.  New ideas soon came to the fore and the idea of seaside holidays become interesting and affordable to ordinary people and not just the wealthy.  The pathway to Cleethorpes from Grimsby became regularly full of people making their way to the new seaside area of Cleethorpes, forming a different style of parade. Eventually the road between the two areas was constructed and the old saltmarsh path was gone forever.

The extension of the railway to Cleethorpes was quickly followed by a Royal visitor.  This was not the first member or the royal family to visit our small town, but the parade was the most imposing.

The visitor was Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward (known as Eddy to his friends), who was the elder son of Prince Albert Edward who, on the death of Queen Victoria, became King Edward VII.  He was in direct succession to become the next King but died young, being one of the victims of a serious influenza epidemic in 1891/2.

 At the time of his death, a week before his 28th birthday, he was engaged to Princess Mary of Teck, who after his death eventually married his brother George (later George V) and eventually became Queen Mary.

At the funeral, Mary left her bridal wreath of orange blossom on his coffin.

Eddy came to open the new Pier gardens in 1885, 7 years prior to his death, and to see the new 20ft high sea wall which stretched for about three quarters of a mile.

His parade was quite magnificent, which was well in character, as he was said to be not particularly bright but was certainly very self-indulgent.  Ten special trains were required to bring his friends, coaches and horses to Grimsby station. The parade started there and was joined by various Grimsby notables, Railway officials, Corporation officials, wives and landowners, before proceeding to inspect the statue of the Prince’s grandfather, the late Prince Consort.

 It then proceeded to Cleethorpes where at the boundary they were joined by various brass bands, the fire brigade, various club and friendly society officials and members of the Cleethorpes Local Board.  They were accompanied by a large police escort with a guard of honour provided by the Lincolnshire Rifle Volunteers and the Lincolnshire Artillery Volunteers.

It was a large and imposing parade along Grimsby Road.  The Prince had lunch, planted a tree, made a speech and departed by train from Cleethorpes railway station, which hardly gave him time to view the huge triumphal arch made of 30 tons of ice, and no time to see the evening firework display.

It was much later (1962) that the story was widely circulated that he was suspected of being Jack the Ripper!

And by the way – it rained.

Another imposing parade was at the opening of the Kingsway and the Kings Parade on the 12th July 1906.

The Manager of the Gas Works, who was also Chairman of the Urban District Council, tried to make a holiday out of the occasion and gave his employees the day off.  He appealed to other employers to do the same.  Some did – some did not.

 This formal opening was performed by Lady Henderson wife of the Chairman of the GCR and Liberal Unionist M.P. ,  who had done so much to build Cleethorpes into the hugely popular tourist destination it had become.

Lady Henderson, who in the morning had cut the first sod of the new Immingham docks, was met with her entourage at Park Street and proceeded along Grimsby Road which was decorated with arches and flags. A scene not to be repeated until the end of the two world wars.

Crowds lined the street and every window was said to have been occupied.  Cleethorpes rejoiced and the sunshine made the morning all the more pleasant.  The result was that the new promenade seemed to bring even more record crowds to the resort.

But again, on the day in question in  the early afternoon, the rain fell in sheets.