Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When the Prince came to Ballarat in 1920

The rain fell in torrents on the cold June day, but excitement swept through the crowd.  The handsome Prince of Wales would arrive soon! The Lucas girls* massed on each side were especially delighted.  The Prince was going to formally open the Avenue of Trees and the impressive Arch of Victory, and the Lucas girls had waited a long time for this day.

The girls were famous for their fund-raising efforts during the First World War, but this was the highlight.  They sold dolls made from scraps of the clothing made in the factories, and they also gladly sacrificed some of their pay, so that this tribute to the fallen soldiers could be built.  When the time for the Prince's arrival drew near, the Lucas girls even armed trucks with bricks so that the Arch could be completed in time!

The avenue of beautiful trees, including elms, oaks and poplars, named the Avenue of Honour, was almost 14 miles long. Bronze plates with the names and battalions of each of the fallen soldiers from Ballarat were attached to every tree. The girls and other volunteers planted the trees lovingly during cold, wet and windy weather.

The huge crowd cheered when Prince Edward arrived.  He was presented with a pair of gold scissors, so that he could cut the greenery across the arch.  The girls giggled when one of the heads of the firm also gave the Prince a pair of silk pyjamas which he accepted with a blush.  The pyjamas had a picture of his crest on one side and a picture of Victory on the other.  I somehow doubt that he wore these pyjamas when he was with the Duchess of Windsor!

* The Lucas girls worked for the Lucas clothing factory in Ballarat.

1 comment:

Hels said...

Early this year I went on a Prince of Wales tour of Ballarat and talked about the pyjamas.

If the exchange of official gifts on a State visit often served as a gesture of goodwill between the visiting and the host nation, and if the gifts represented some part of the nation's heritage, then the good citizens of Ballarat felt neglected by the Palace. Thank goodness for the Governor-General Quentin Bryce!

Have a great 2015 and thanks for the link