This day of big celebrations all over the country, with a school holiday and shops closing, was inaugurated in 1902, the year after the death of Queen Victoria, and was to be celebrated annually on the Queen’s birthday May 24th... “to remind children that they formed part of the British Empire, and that they might think with others in lands across the sea, what it meant to be sons and daughters of such a glorious Empire. The strength of the Empire depends upon them, and they must never forget it.”

These days, with considerably less of an Empire in our possession, this celebration takes place on March 13th, and is now known as Commonwealth Day.

However it passes almost without comment, unlike the scenes depicted here.

I have featured an Empire Day page before, but using pictures of a 1934 parade in the High Street and complete with a “John Bull” character on horseback. Here are some earlier pictures, with the Causeway obviously being a popular place for assembling and merrymaking.

The picture top right would appear to be the oldest, with a definite Victorian look about it, especially the lady dressed in black. In the background, what is now Burgers would have then been Carter’s Restaurant.

The two Causeway pictures looking in the opposite direction, one captioned 1906 on the rear, give an idea of how the area looked in the time prior to the War Memorial; the wall across the road enclosing the private Court Garden Estate.

The Empire Day line up of prettily dressed young ladies is probably a similar date, but the location is known, as result of the building in the background – the rear of Remnantz House.

General Sir George Higginson also held an Empire Day party in his Gyldernscroft grounds, and lower right is a nice Scott & Smith postcard of the scene.

Contact Michael at or 01628 486571