Winton Forum


Winton's Royal Visit

Winton has had just one official royal visit. It was on 19 October 1927 and the visitor was Edward, the Prince of Wales.

Nine years later he plunged the nation into an abdication crisis after becoming king and then insisting on marrying his American divorcee lover, Mrs Simpson.

In 1927, though, he was visiting every part of the country as part of a "see and be seen" campaign.

The previous year Britain had been in the grips of its first General Strike - an event that had struck fear into the hearts of the Royal Family in particular.

They saw it as the possible prelude to a Bolshevik-style revolution that could end with them sharing the fate of the Russian Tsar and his family. The execution of the Russian Royals was still relatively recent - just nine years before.

The roots of many of the problems afflicting Britain and the rest of the Western World lay in the terrible losses of the First World War. Most men who survived returned home scarred in one way or another - and there was a questioning discontent about whether it had all been worth it.

Not surprising then, that when the Prince of Wales visited Winton his first stop was a special workshop set up to employ disabled servicemen.

The Disabled Soldiers and Sailors Workshop was built on Peter's Hill next to a plot that was to be the site of the Fire Station. It was run by a formidable lady known as Miss H A Smith.

She had started her work for disabled servicemen in 1915 when she began to raise funds from a kiosk on Bournemouth Pier selling woollen garments, soft toys, hand-painted calendars, basket work and needlework. Gradually she gathered a small army of helpers, including Major General Sir Harry Brooking who was to become chairman of the charity.

When it started operation in 1922, the workshop employed eighteen men. The pay was small and they could not compete with able-bodied men. But they retained their pride, self respect and hope for the future. They produced leather work, basket work and toys.

The Prince of Wales's car arrived at the Workshop just before three o'clock in the afternoon. He talked to the men and looked at their work. After brief conversations with Miss Smith and Major General Brooking he was off again, waving to assembled onlookers and making his way to the British Legion Hall a hundred yards down the road where he met more war veterans. Next stop was Jameson Road where the new YMCA building was due to open in a few months time..

For years afterwards a local resident used to tell the story of how a crowd of mothers with young children were standing on the corner of Jameson and Wimborne Roads. As the party made its way down Wimborne Road, the Prince apparently looked thoroughly fed up. He was surrounded by civic officials and aides, but when he saw the children on the corner he broke away from the official party, came across and bent down to talk to the children, his face warm and smiling. After several minutes one of the officials came and said something to him (possibly reminding him opf his timetable). He looked annoyed, stood up and walked on up Jameson Road.

In spite of his playboy lifestyle and later abdication, a mother who witnessed it all said she felt she had seen the human side of the man.

British Legion Hall, 1927

A short time later it was back in the car and off via Edgehill Road, Frederica Road, Talbot Road, Talbot Avenue and Wimborne Road to a Toc-H Ceremony of Light at St Augustine's Church.

Toc-H was another charity with its origins in the First Word War. Dedicated initially to giving hope, comfort and respite to men in the trenches, its iconic lamp symbolises a spirit of unselfishness and service to others.

The Bournemouth branch had been established in 1925 when it received its symbolic Lamp at a ceremony in London from none other than the Prince of Wales.

After the Toc-H ceremony at St Augustines the Prince made a brief visit to Poole and was back on the 5 o'clock train for London.

It had been a busy day. Before he even arrived in Winton the Prince had inspected five different guards of honour and viewed five different buildings and then listened to eight thousand schoolchildren, Scouts, Guides and Boys' Brigades sing 'Land of Hope and Glory' at a rally in Meyrick Park .

But all that was nothing compared to the fuss that was coming in 1936!

The Moordown Guides and Brownies were almost certainly present at the rally which the Prince reviewed. Here is a picture of them taken in the mid-1920's.

The Royal visit was of course timed and organised down to the last minute. Less so were the odd occasions when VIPs happened to pass through Winton on their way to somewhere else. Possibly the most notable of these fleeting appearances was in 1909 when King Edward VII's motorised entourage swept through cheering Winton crowds on its way from Bournemouth Railway station to Milton Abbas where the king was to spend a couple of days pheasant shooting. A photographer managed to capture the procession.