Story and photos of Queen Victoria Monument and buildings
By Liz Smith, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland

The designs on the reverse of the coin
are enameled in colors.

Clasps fitted on the front of the coin allow
the coin to be worn as a broach.

Golden Jubilee 1887 Commemorative Coin
Issued in the United Kingdom to commemorate Queen Victoria's 50 years on the throne.
(Coin from the John Guthrie Bowman & Margaret Jane Kinnear collection)

Queen Victoria, born 24 May 1819 ruled Great Britain for 63 years.
Married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
on the 10th of February 1840 she had nine children.
One of her royal residences was located at Balmoral in Scotland.

Following are excerpts from the Dundee Advertiser describing how Scots people celebrated her Golden Jubilee

Dundee Advertiser

Saturday May 18th and Monday May 20th 1887


Celebrations for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee started officially on the evening of Friday 17th May 1887 with a bonfire on top of the Law. Normally this would have been seen for miles but, unfortunately, a heavy mist which came down late afternoon meant that the crowds which had gathered on Keptie Hill in Arbroath could see nothing. Across the water, in Newport, watchers there were able to see the display, which, though restricted by the mist, ‘reminded the spectator of descriptions of Etna or Vesuvius in eruption’.

Crowds had visited the hill throughout the day to watch preparations and by 10 o’clock a crowd of about 15,000 had gathered. They watched as flames rose to a height of about 70 feet engulfing a flagstaff and Union Jack which had been placed on the summit. Fireworks were let off round the bonfire, which continued till well after midnight.


Saturday 18th May had been’ set apart by the Provost and Magistrates as a holiday in Dundee in commemoration of the Jubilee of Her Majesty’s reign’. (This did not meet with the approval of everyone.) Most of the mills and factories were to close at 9 o’clock that morning and ‘the employers have generously resolved to pay the whole day’s wages.’ Most shopkeepers had agreed to close for the day ‘though this means a great sacrifice on their part’, (Saturday being the day when they usually did most business.)

That Saturday morning the weather was ideal holiday weather. Dundee was in holiday mood and huge crowds gathered along the route of the procession. The Advertiser wasn’t too enthusiastic about the street decorations, ‘Truth to tell, in the matter of decoration Dundee does not seem to have exerted herself to any considerable extent – little combined effort has been shown.’ However, many buildings had been decorated and the overall effect must have been very colourful. One building singled out was Queen’s Hotel ‘whose bright illuminations showed to fine effect’ in the evening.


Various important people, the Provost and Magistrates, a Detachment of Police, representatives from: the Parochial Board, the Free Library Committee, the Gas Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, the Harbour Board, the Three Trades, the Nine Trades, the Guildry, the High School, the University, Consuls, the Faculty of Procurators, the Civil Service, Justices of the Peace, the Police Commission and the Volunteers, were to assemble in the Albert Institute.

They would leave in procession, march down Reform street and go from there, along the High street to the Parish Church. Here they would file into the church and proceed to their allocated places. After the service, which was to be conducted by various ministers and was to last from 11 o’clock till noon, the procession was to return to the Picture Gallery, Albert Institute.

Unfortunately it was not ideal weather for marching in procession down Reform street – especially for those in uniform. As the Courier reported, ‘It has been said that we in Scotland are not skilful in the management of processions. The experience in Dundee on Saturday was in favour of this view of us. It was a patched and piebald arrangement which called forth more smiles than compliments. The burden of fur-lined robes and tropical heat is too much even for Magistrates.’


After the Thanksgiving Service about 250 people gathered in the Picture Gallery in the Albert Institute. This occasion is notable for the fact that most of the members of the Town Council had voted against money from public funds being spent on this. In the event Provost Ballingall paid. He made a speech and various toasts were made before ‘the proceedings were brought to a close with a rendering of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow.’


Provost Ballingall’s Entertainment to Poor Children

Provost Ballingall went on to entertain about 2500 poor children to dinner. This took place outside in the Barrack Square When the children were seated on the grass they sang a hymn. This was followed by a speech by Provost Ballingall. Dinner was hot meat pies, cakes and lemonade. Each child was given a large packet of mixed sweets from Messrs Lindsay and Low. They (the children) were loud in their thanks to the Provost.’ They were also given as a permanent memento a Jubilee medal and the jugs they had used for their lemonade. ‘The gathering proved a resounding success.’


Ex-Provost Moncur’s Dinner to the Poor

This took place in the Volunteer Drill Hall, ‘tastefully decorated with banners.’ About 1300 people were ‘provided with a hearty repast of beefsteak pies, potatoes and a Jubilee pudding.’ After the National Anthem had been sung and three cheers given for the Queen, ex-provost Moncur made a speech.

Several other things were done for the poor to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. Various other dinners were given, most of which seemed to involve quantities of substantial food and speeches. Money and groceries were also distributed.



Throughout the afternoon various events took place, which kept the crowds entertained. At 1 o’clock the Artillery Volunteers fired a Royal salute of 21 guns in the Barrack Square. At the same time the Highlanders fired a ‘feu de joie’. Manoeuvres took place at Magdalen Green where another ‘feu de joie’ was fired. Open-air band concerts took place at different parks: Baxter Park, Lochee and Balgay Parks, and Magdalen Green. ‘Merry chimes were rung on the Old Steeple bells at intervals during the day.’

Street vendors abounded selling Jubilee pipes, cigars, medals, puzzles and, an invention of the Carse o’ Gowrie Dairy Company, drinks of ‘sour dook’.

The weather continued to be mostly favourable although, as the Advertiser put it, ‘A tropical heat prevailed during the forenoon, but in the afternoon we were treated to a display of heaven’s artillery, a sharp thunderstorm breaking over the town, followed by a downpour of rain. The sky soon cleared, and, during the remainder of the day the weather was cool.’ The downpour meant that from 4 o’clock till 7 o’clock many of the crowd left the streets but by 9 o’clock most had returned to watch the evening’s fireworks display.


The day culminated in a huge fireworks display. Most of the fireworks were let off from the Tay Bridge and were best seen from Magdalen Green. The display was organised by Messrs Brock & Co. It was estimated that a crowd of 50,000 gathered in Magdalen Green, on the Esplanade and in the streets leading down to the river. A large stand had been erected for the Town Council and their friends and about 500 people were able to watch from there.

Several boats were anchored in the Tay acting as grandstands and from one of these, the yacht Princess Louise, several ‘grotesque balloons’ were released at intervals throughout the evening. ‘The balloons are made in imitation of elephants, horses, lions, tigers, donkeys and other animals, and inflated by the burning of spirits of wine.’

The programme had such interesting items as:

The Nest of the Fiery Vultures

The Grove of Golden Palms

The Bombardment of Alexandria

The Cascade of Golden Fire (100 feet long), a mighty torrent of granulated iron in combustion, falling into and reflected in the water, and producing an effect like the roaring of a mighty cataract.’



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