As we prepare for the reopening of Tamworth Assembly Rooms later this year, we’re shining a spotlight on all things Victorian and the era’s many significant contributions to the shaping of Tamworth as we know it today.
The historic theatre in Corporation Street was first proposed as a fitting monument to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. It was officially opened to the public in October 1889 and therefore celebrates its 130th birthday this year.
Tamworth Assembly Rooms is currently undergoing its most significant transformation to date, with a major multi-million-pound refurbishment and expansion project to ensure it can be preserved at the heart of the community for another 130 years.
A number of events are being planned throughout the year to celebrate the reopening of the historic venue and the Victorian era. As well as giving us our iconic Assembly Rooms, the Victorian period (1837-1901) had a significant impact on the shaping of the town we know today, including the development of key buildings, the birth of influential people locally and nationally, and historic events which forever changed the town.
This Victorian heritage and Tamworth Assembly Rooms are key themes of the 2019 Tamworth in Bloom campaign of ‘Blooming Tamworth – More than just flowers’ as the town goes for gold for a 10th time.
The campaign involves a celebration of the town’s community and heritage and reflecting some of these in the Tamworth in Bloom flowers and events. The Moor Street traffic island at the end of Lichfield Street, for example, will include a raised flower bed with a special tribute to Queen Victoria; this May also marks the 200th anniversary of her birth.
A FREE musical event is taking place in the Castle Grounds on Saturday, July 6, with a special evening Bandstand concert. Music Under the Stars will pay tribute to some of the amazing acts which have graced the stage at Tamworth Assembly Rooms over the decades, featuring music from The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many more.
Audiences will be taken on a musical journey through time by Sonic Harmony, Liam Rhodes and Daniel Hatton, performing songs from artists who have performed at the Assembly Rooms. The beautiful Castle Grounds and the iconic Bandstand – which was also brought to Tamworth by the Victorians, having been constructed by the Price brothers in 1900 – provide the perfect backdrop for a summer evening of entertainment. There will also be street food and drinks vendors.
Continuing the celebrations, the bandstand will also host a celebration taking place on Tamworth in Bloom judging day on July 16, where every group that has supported Blooming Tamworth, and anyone else who wants to view the beautiful flowers in the grounds, will be invited to bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon of free music by Amington Band.
Then in September, Victorian history will be brought to life at a special Victorian Living History Weekend at Tamworth Castle. This will take place on September 15 and 16 and invites visitors to join the governess, housekeeper and servants as they go about their daily tasks.
Throughout the year, we will also be sharing information, milestones and anniversaries of other key Victorian people, buildings and events that have shaped Tamworth.
For example, these include Tamworth Railway Station (built in 1839), the iconic 19-arch viaduct which celebrates its 180th anniversary this year, and Tamworth Castle being given to the people of the town 120 years ago in 1899 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
The era also gave birth to many influential Tamworth people who went on to have a great impact on the town and further afield, such as founder of Reliant Tom Williams and William MacGregor, and companies including Gibbs and Canning and Wilnecote Works.
Even the very shape of Tamworth as we know it today was determined by the Victorians, when in 1889, boundaries were altered to place Tamworth wholly in Staffordshire for the first time.
Of course we also have the influence of Sir Robert Peel, MP for Tamworth, who served twice as Prime Minister, including during Victoria’s reign.
Sir Robert had a huge impact on the UK and its politics, known most for inventing the modern police service and repealing the Corn Laws. He also issued what became known as the Tamworth Manifesto, which is widely credited by historians as having laid down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based.
This year, Tamworth Peel Society celebrates its 40th birthday having been founded in 1979 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Metropolitan Police Force.
More interesting information and anniversaries will be shared during the coming months via the Visit Tamworth Facebook page.
For more information about Music Under the Stars, please visit www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk.
To book tickets for the Tamworth Castle Victorian Living History event please visit www.tamworthcastle.co.uk/events.
For more information about this year’s Tamworth in Bloom activities, please visit www.tamworth.gov.uk/tamworth-bloom.