The Nineteenth Century’s Greatest Athlete visits Stanley Park

Wednesday, May 29 – 1878
Stanley Hospital Bazaar And Fancy Fair.
There is little doubt that the monster gala and bazaar to be held in Stanley Park during Whit week, in aid of the funds of the Stanley Hospital, will be on scale of magnitude and will display a variety of attractions which have never been equalled in Liverpool; and it is to be hoped that the financial success of the gala gathering will be what the excellent charity deserves and what the self-sacrificing efforts of the ladies and gentlemen who have been toiling for weeks to secure that success really merit.

The whole of Stanley Park has been secured for the fete; the Earl and Countess of Derby have graciously consented to give becoming eclat to the inauguration of the week’s work of charity by opening the bazaar; military music, Scottish sports, athletic contests, theatrical amusements, balloon ascents, band contests, and numerous other elements of attraction will be provided by the host of committees now hard at work; and all that is needed to make the “Stanley” gala a brilliant success is the all-important matter of good weather.

The organisation arrangements connected with this great undertaking go on bravely in the various committees, where incessant activity is the order of the day and night, and as a consequence the whole scheme will be found in apple-pie order on the day of opening.

The bazaar, which will embrace seven stalls, naturally forms a prominent feature of the scheme, as it will doubtless prove the leading source of revenue to the hospital funds. The “Derby” stall will be presided over by Mrs. T. Major Lester, the “Sefton” by Mrs. J. Kellett Smith, the “Walton” by Mrs. I.E. Bennett, the “Everton” by Mrs. A.C. Hughes, the “Stanley” by Mrs. John Houlding, the “Kirkdale” by Miss Costine, Miss Jones, and Miss Liversage, and the refreshment stall will have as its superintendents Mrs. F. Wilkinson, Mrs. Jones, Miss Vines, Miss Marsh, Miss Orrell, &c.

The gifts, which take almost every conceivable form, continue to come in from many quarters in great abidance; and the wealth of display which the stalls will exhibit ought to prove sufficient to tempt the opening of the most carefully closed pocket. Some of the contributions are exceedingly valuable, and notice is especially deserved bu a “black and white” picture entitled “The Fairy Glen,” kindly painted and given by Mr. John Brunton, the scenic artist at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. The picture is quite a gem in its way, most carefully and artistically executed, and will be a prize to the lucky holder of the winning ticket. The other donations to the bazaar stock extend over a very wide field, comprising as they do a “duck” of a pony, gold and silver watches, piano, sewing and washing machines quite a host, fancy goods, oil and water colour paintings, carved oak chair, &c.

The gifts to the refreshment department are also numerous and varied, and as a consequence there is little prospect of a famine with respect to the all-important “creature comforts.”

The committee have very wisely resolved upon making music a conspicuous feature of the festive-charitable gathering, and the committee entrusted with this special department have made it their business to secure both quantity and quality in this direction. The bands already secured for the fair are her Majesty’s Grenaider Guards’ band (Mr. Dan Godfrey conductor), her Majesty’s 5th Dragoon Guard’s band, her Majesty’s 96th Foot band (from Chester Castle), the Liverpool police band, the band of the 1st L.R.V., the band of the Indefatigable, and many others, the whole being expected to number about 18. Band contests will also probably form an interesting item in the exceedingly attractive programme, and vocal concerts will be given by local and other talent in the tents during the evening. It is very likely that the great Scottish festival, comprising athletics, piping, dancing, &c., of which Sir. A. Barclay Walker is the president, will constitute one of the most attractive features of gathering. The Royal and Braemar champions of Scotland have been specially engaged, and amongst these is the well-known Donald Dinnie (the greatest athlete of the age, who is said to be able to lift 15owt., and walk off with half a ton), Messrs. Davidson, Fleming, and McRae, besides Mr. Gilroy and his troop of champion pipers and dancers in Highland costume, who have been retained for the whole of the week. A combination of northern talent like this altogether about 50 string, has very rarely been seen on this side the Tweed, and this enterprise on the part of the committee ought to prove most successful in every respect. Scottish competitions, athletics, pony and other races, polo matches, old English sports, &c., are also set down as portions of the extensive programme, and the extent of these contests may be gathered from the fact that no less a sum than £1,000 will be given away in prizes.

Messrs. Elkington and Co., of Church-street, furnish the cups and medals, and their name is a sufficient guarantee of the quality of the prizes to be competed for. Beside this, that firm will give a beautiful vase for the purpose of being handed over to the most successful competitor in the contests.

Mr. Youens, of London, will bring down three magnificent balloons (one of which will be named “The Stanley”), along with three men, so that the trio may make an ascent each day, and the festivities will be closed each night during the week with a brilliant display of fireworks by Mr. Wilder, of Birmingham.

Lovers of the drama will have their tastes gratified by the performances in a specially-erected tent of dramatic representations, under the general direction of Mr. Frank Emery, lease of the Prince of Wales Theatre. The stage will be erected and scenery furnished by Messrs. Wilkinson and Robinson, theatrical property manufacturers, Warren-street, and the dramatic fare will be provided by the companies from the Alexandra Theatre, Amphitheatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Theatre Royal, &c. Richardson’s show will again have a place on the ground, and amongst numerous contributors to the general amusements will be Mr. Sam Hague’s Minstrels and the New Star Music Hall company. Punchinellos, optical illusions, “fine art temples,” acrobats, and gymnasts will likewise be found amongst the persons and things which will be furnished to give amusement to the thousands who will throng the park to give their countenance and help to an effort to establish a noble charity on a proper and satisfactory basis, and entirely free it from the debt with which its good work at the North-end is at present greatly hampered.
(Liverpool Mercury, 29-05-1878)

Donald Dinnie
Donald Dinnie

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