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Queen Victoria

2 February

Today in Gosport’s Past:-  on 2 February 1901, Queen Victoria made her last journey from Gosport when her funeral train took the coffin from Clarence Yard. The coffin had spent the previous night on board HMY “Alberta”, which it had borne from Trinity Pier, East Cowes, on 1 February, with a guard of honour in attendance throughout.

The Bishop of Winchester & clergy led the cortege taking the coffin from “Alberta” to the Queen’s station in Clarence Yard, and transferred to a railway carriage of the LBSCR. Massed bands at the quayside played Chopin’s ‘Marche Funebre’.

The train was hauled from Clarence Yard to Fareham by LSWR ‘A12’ Class 0-4-2 No.555. The loco was taken off at Fareham, and two LBSCR ‘B4’ Class 4-4-0 locomotives, the leading loco being No.54 “Empress”, attached to the other end of the train, which then proceeded along the coast route, passing through Cosham, Chichester, Worthing and Hove, where it took the Brighton avoiding line through the tunnel towards Preston Park, then Redhill, East Croydon and Clapham Junction, and on to to London Victoria, from where the coffin was transferred onto a gun carriage, which was then hauled by eight white horses (as per the Queen’s wishes) to Paddington station; this was not without event, however.

During the journey to Paddington, the horses got ‘unruly’ and broke their harness; alternate arrangements had to be made post-haste, so a communication cord was attached and used as an impromtu harness, and the coffin continued its journey pulled by the sailors who’d formed the naval guard of honour, instead of the horses.

Meanwhile, those walking ahead of the gun carriage were unaware of such events, and had continued to march solemnly as far as the end of Windsor Street, where they were alerted to the situation, and marched back to the scene before it could continue again.

Upon eventual arrival at Paddington station, the Queen’s coffin was then taken to Windsor via the GWR route through Slough, hauled by GWR ‘Atbara’ Class 4-4-0 3373 “Atbara”, temporarily renamed “Royal Sovereign” (nameplate borrowed from ‘Achilles’ Class 4-2-2 No. 3050) , the driver being one David Hughes.

The funeral service was held on the following day (3 February), then the Queen lay in state in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. On 4 February, she was laid to rest in Frogmore Mausoleum, which she herself had had built for Prince Albert when he died. Together at last….

Anyhow, here’s a few relevant photos; the first is of a locomotive of the type used from Gosport, but this is No.600, not the actual loco (No.555) although they were the same, other than the post-1923 Southern Railway livery seen on No.600.

Credits to original photographers.