The Borough of Reigate's Celebrations
In May 1935 the Borough of Reigate put on a number of special events to celebrate the 25 years on the throne of King George V. This page tells the story of those events and attempts to give some small idea of how things were in the mid-1930s in the towns of Redhill and Reigate and surrounding area.
 Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert, second son of Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was born at Malborough House on 3rd June 1865, two years after the Borough of Reigate came into being. On 6th July 1893 he married Princess Mary of Teck, a great-granddaughter of George III. On 6th May 1910 he ascended the throne. It seems that in his youth he had been quick tempered and his educational standard was particularly low. During his life he remained a staunch conservative and had, it is said, the outlook of an 18th century squire. He did, however, display good common sense and a deep national pride. By 1914 he had established a good reputation and enjoyed the trust of politicians. It is reported that throughout WW1 he set an example of confidence, courage and sacrifice, and that afterwards displayed loyalty to his ministers and staff and a stern and strong love of his country. Throughout he always praised the help that he received from Queen Mary. No wonder, then, that the people Borough of Reigate, along with the rest of his subjects, held him in high esteem.
King George V survived a serious illness in 1928, his recovery creating aditional affection for him in the country. If further proof were needed of the depth of this affection then it manifested itself in the celebrations of his Silver Jubilee in May 1935.
The King died on 20th January 1936. Queen Mary lived on until 24th March 1953.
The programme of events was a follows: -  

May 1st - A firework display at Gatton Park. Such displays seem to have been a favourite of Sir Jeremiah Colman and occurred during most notable celebrations. This display was billed as 'distinct from the Borough Celebrations; the date has been arranged so that it may be linked up with them and form part of the general rejoicings'. Clearly its organisation was firmly in the hands of Sir Jeremiah and not the Silver Jubilee Committee, but that was how Sir Jeremiah liked things to be, and besides, he was celebrating not just the Royal Jubilee but also his and Lady Colman's Golden Wedding. The programme for this event was impressive. It began with the ascent of a 'Monster balloon carrying firework effects' and continued with an 'opening barrage of fifty 'Crystal Palace' rockets'. It continued with a 'Flight of twelve 'Silver Jubilee' rockets, and the rest of the programme needs to be read to be appreciated as much as it can be without having been there.
The names of many of the rockets fires were imaginatively chosen; those who read the programme before attending must have had great expectations of a spectacular display. That the firework manufacturers, Brocks, were in charge of the display is probable, and the intervals during which the two bands played were possibly used to set up parts of the display.

Sir Jeremiah Colman as pictured
in the programme of events

At the end of the display the mansion was illuminated by fifty special lights. This must have been rather an eerie spectacle in itself considering that in this year of 1935 the building was newly rebuilt after only the year before being burnt to the ground.

Advertisements from the 1935 programme
In 1935 James Knight's shop had already been established for many years. The telephone number of 195 was then served from the manual exchange over the Bell Street post office. In 1937 a new exchange was built in Church Street and the number became prefixed by 2. It has since been prefixed by a 4 and the a further 2, making it a six digit number today. Lamberts of Redhill were an even older firm than Knight's according to the above advert, having been making bread since 1803. Presumably they became established in Redhill around the 1860s. Their shop on the corner of the High Street and Cromwell Road was a delight for anyone to enter, being always warm and full of the most delicious smells of newly baked bread, cakes and buns.
May 6th, a Processonal Pageant  
The main celebratory event was a processional pageant on Monday 6th May that displayed events from the nation's history, each being organised and portrayed by members of certain groups or individuals within the community. Starting in Garlands Road, Redhill, the parade passed along the High Street and then made its way to Reigate Heath via Station Road, Blackborough Road, Bell Street, Reigate High Street and West Street. The events portrayed and the groups responsible are listed below.
Group No.EventGroup Name
1BoadiceaThe Redhill Branch, British Legion
2The RomansThe YMCA, Redhill
3King Arthur and the Knights of the Round TableMrs Spranger and Mr Richard Spranger
4St AugustineRedhill and Reigate District Girl Guides Association
5Alfred the GreatMembers of St Mark's Club
6William the Conqueror and Norman knightsThe Rover Scouts
7Henry II and BecketThe South Park Women's Institute
8The Canterbury PilgrimsMerstham Village
9King Richard I and the CrusadersRedhill and Reigate Group of Toc H
10King John and the BaronsPupils of Reigate Grammar School
11Robin HoodThe Earlswood (2nd Reigate) Troop of Boy Scouts
12King Edward III and Queen PhilippaReigate St Mary's (boys') Parish school
13King Kenry VThe Southern Provincial Police Orphanage, Redhill
14Wars of the RosesThe Junior Imperial League, Redhill and Reigate
15Richard, Duke of GloucesterPupils of the County School for Girls
16Henry VIIIThe East Surrey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society
17Queen ElizabethThe Battlebridge Women's Institute
18Charles IThe Rotary Clubs of Redhill and Reigate
19Queen AnneBuckland Women's Institute
20The Artists of the 18th CenturyThe Redhill and District Amateur Light Opera Society
21The RegencyThe Victory Club, Reigate
22The Victorian EraThe Women Citizens
23His Majesty's SubjectsThe Reigate Branchof the British Legion
 The postcard picture left shows Bill Gumbrell in a procession. On the back of the card is written 'Cousin Bill in the Merstham carnival'. In the 1935 pageant Bill Gumbrell is listed as the herald for item 20, 'Artists of the 18th Century'. The job of the herald was to carry a banner bearing the title and number of the group as shown in the programme and is described as a members of the 7th batt. Southwark Regt. of the Church Lads' Brigade, St Matthew's, Redhill and St Katherine's (Merstham) Companies. The subject of the tableau was Gainsborough painting the portrait of Mrs Siddons the actress. In the picture there is a lady sitting, and possibly an easel but Bill is not carrying a banner and there is not enough evidence to say that this was actually him in the 1935 pageant,so it will have to remain as the Merstham carnival of an unknown date. Nevertheless it is good to have a picture of Bill Gumbrell, here dressed as a dandy, and who in other circumstances was the manager of the Redhill Gas Company
Advertisements from the 1935 programme  
An advertisement for electricity from the programme. In 1935 Reigate Corporation had its own electricity generating plant Bucklands is one of a very few 1935 enterprises that are still in business today, and in their case still at the same address. Note the double wheels at the rear of this 1935 removal van.
May 6th, A Grand Fancy Dress Ball  
Also on the Monday there was a ball at the Redhill Market Hall with dancing from 9pm until 1am. There were refreshments in the small hall and a licensed buffet in the supper room. Dance tickets were priced at 3 shillings and tickets to view the dance were 1/- and were available from the Ancient House Bookshop in Reigate and Tyndall's Music Shop in Redhill.
May 7th, Entertainment of the Children  
On the Tuesday there was an open air service on the common at Mill Street. Following this there was entertainment and tea at three venues: - Reigate children went to the County School ground at Rushworth Road, Reigate; Redhill children to the Memorial Sports Ground at Redhill; and Merstham children to the Merstham cricket ground. Punch and Judy shows, living marionettes and clowns were among the attractions and there was a presentation of souvenir mugs and beakers.
May 8th, Entertainment of Old People  
Concerts and musical events follwed a supper that was on for those of 70 years and upwards at the Colman Institute, Redhill, and the Reigate Parish Hall on the Wednesday.
May 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th, Play at the Market Hall  
The Local Amateur Players presented 'Alibi', a detective play founded on one of Agatha Christie's novels. It was put on at the Market Hall and tickets were priced from 5 shillings down to 1 shilling, all proceeds going to the East Surrey Hospital.
May 12th, Thanksgiving Service  
A special service was held at the Memorial Sports Ground, Redhill, as the final event of the celebrations. Presented at 3pm by the Rural Dean of Reigate and the President of the Free Church Council, there was also an address by the Bishop of Fulham.
Not Mentioned in the Programme  
On Redhill Common there is a memorial to the Jubilee of King George V about which the programme of events in completely silent. The memorial was converted from a sighting pillar, built when the railway first came through Redhill; it is clearly seen centre right of the adjacent picture of the common. It was originally constructed in 1841as a point from which to plot the route of the long straight of the Tonbridge line from the Philanthropic bend to the Ashford tunnel.
The main proponent of the conversion from sighting pillar to memorial was Alderman Frank Lemon who had for many years been the chairman of the Commons Conservators. Some opinion in 1935 was that the sighting pillar should have been preserved at all costs, not sacrificed to a memorial that could have been erected elsewhere, and as conservation was Aldernam Lemon's apparent duty he was the very one who should most have been aware of this. Alderman Lemon, whose name appears on the stone, did not live to see the memorial he so keenly favoured, as he died after he had initiated the idea but shortly before it was completed.

Mre information about the memorial can be found on the page about Redhill Common. Information about Mr Lemon can be found on the 'Mayors' page on this web site.

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