The Royal Visit of 1912

105 years ago today, Merthyr was honoured with a visit from King George V and Queen Mary.

On 25 June 1912, the Royal Couple had embarked on a three day visit to Wales, the primary reason for which was to lay the foundation stone for the new National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. The King, however, had expressed a wish to see the social conditions of the area and Sir William Thomas Lewis (see previous posts) arranged a tour.

The Royal Train at Treherbert

On the 27 June they travelled on the Royal Train, first visiting the Lewis Merthyr Colliery at Trehafod, then on to the Mines Rescue Station at Dinas. The tour then continued by train through Pontypridd, Llancaiach, Bedlinog, Cwmbargoed, to Caeharris (Dowlais) Station where the King and Queen were scheduled to visit the Dowlais Works.

Dowlais Works decorated for the Royal Visit

To mark the occasion, craftsmen at the Dowlais Works had specially constructed two monumental archways for the Royal Couple to pass through – one made of coal and one made of steel.

The Coal Arch (left) and the Steel Arch (right)

They entered the works on foot, through the ‘Coal Arch’, and were greeted by a rousing rendition of ‘God Save the King’ by the Penywern Choir, who had been invited to entertain the Royal party. A message was later sent by the King and Queen to the conductor of the choir – Mr Evan Thomas, complimenting them on their singing, saying that the Penywern Choir “were the best choir of voices they had heard on their tour of South Wales”. The Royal Couple then entered Dowlais House where they met several invited distinguished guests and were served a sumptuous lunch. The Penywern Choir entertained the visitors during the lunch from a marquee that had been specially erected in front of the dining room.

Following lunch, the King and Queen were given a tour of the Works by Sir W T Lewis and Mr Arthur Keen, the owner of the works (he had purchased to Dowlais Iron Company from Ivor Bertie Guest in 1899, and the Works were now operating under the management of Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds). Having visited the Blast Furnaces, the Bessemer Plant, Goat Mill, Sleeper Mill, Sole Plate Mill, Fishplate Mill and the Siemens Plant, the Royal Couple exited the Works via the ‘Steel Arch’, and proceeded to Merthyr in their own Daimler car, to arrive at the Town Hall steps at 4.00pm where Sir W T Lewis presented them to the Mayor and Mayoress, Mr & Mrs J M Berry.

The King and Queen at Dowlais Works
Crowds outside the Town Hall in a specially erected stand

The Dowlais Works have since closed, the Steel Arch was dismantled in the 1920’s and the Coal Arch was dismantled in 1960.

Photographs courtesy of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/index.htm

2 thoughts on “The Royal Visit of 1912”

  1. What a great post – thanks. Was glad to see the early C20 Dowlais pictures and reflect on that sumptuous lunch and accompanying music!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. There will be more about Dowlais in the next week……keep watching!!!!

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