See Southampton Heritage Guides – Sightseeing tours, tour guides and accessible tours

Queen Victoria

As a young Princess, Victoria stayed at the Star Inn in 1831.
On 8th July 1833 she formally opened the Royal Pier, accompanied by her mother, the Duchess of Kent.

Queen Victoria loved the south coast, especially after her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. Five years later they started to build (1845-1851) Osborne House on the Isle of Wight as their summer retreat.

In 1843 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert arrived at the Terminus Station to go on a marine excursion on the Royal Yacht “Victoria and Albert”. Although the rain was descending in drizzling showers of sleet and the wind was blowing cold and comfortless, thousands of people were assembled to see the Royal couple proceed up the High Street in the Royal carriage to the Bargate, where they were met by the mayor. The High Street was decorated with flags, banners, and pennons. The whole procession then proceeded from the Bargate to the pier. All the vessels in Southampton water were dressed in their colours.

For some reason the Royal Yacht had not been brought close to the pier, so that Victoria had to step on to her barge. To get her there dry-footed, the mayor and aldermen took off their official robes (being scarlet) to make a pathway for the Queen. Apparently Her Majesty was delighted!

When the Crimean War came to an end she ordered a military hospital to be built in the UK. Its purpose was to train army nurses and doctors and to treat military patients to ensure their swift return to duty. Netley was chosen as the site because it was near to Southampton so that hospital ships from around the British Empire could safely dock and disembark patients.

The foundation stone, a two ton Welsh granite stone, was laid by Queen Victoria on May 19 in 1856. The monarch Victoria arrived at Royal Victoria Hospital Netley by Royal Yacht. The Jetty by the hospital was specially built for her visit and a scarlet carpet covered the walkway. This occasion was marked by the firing of a Royal Salute. Unfortunately one gun fired prematurely and two sailors were killed. The laying of the foundation stone ceremony still went ahead.

Beneath the stone a copper casket containing the plans of the hospital, the first Victoria Cross, a silver Crimea medal with all four campaign bars and a set of British coins.

On 26th July 1890 Queen Victoria arrived on the Royal Yacht Alberta, originally built as a tender to the larger royal yacht HMY Victoria and Albert II, to open the Empress Dock. The only way the then financially troubled dock company could afford to build the new dock, was to enter into an arrangement with the London & South Western Railway Company.

It is rumoured that the Southampton Corporation sent Queen Victoria a bill for the red carpet laid down for her at the ceremony. Maybe this is the reason why she never returned to Southampton again!

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