VIDEO: Princess Alexandra returns to Lancaster
Lancaster’s own royal returned to the city on Wednesday to join in three special celebrations.
Princess Alexandra, who became founding Chancellor of Lancaster University 55 years ago, officially opened the new Community Fire and Ambulance Station and visited residents of Penny’s Hospital Almshouses and Westfield War Memorial Village.
The almshouses in King Street are exactly three centuries old while Westfield in West Road has just notched up its centenary.
A helicopter brought the royal visitor to the Giant Axe Field before she was driven to the £2.4m Fire and Ambulance Station in Cable Street.
It is 15 years since the princess retired after 40 years as Chancellor during which she was a regular visitor to the university and Lancaster.
She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree on her retirement.
“The princess has strong links to this area so it felt really fitting that the opening of a building which has been so carefully designed to reflect the character of the historic but forward-thinking city was celebrated in this way,” said Mark Hutton of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
Trustees, residents and wardens welcomed the Princess to Penny’s Hospital, which was originally built by William Penny in 1719 for 12 poor old men and is run by Lancaster Charity.
She unveiled a commemorative plaque and was presented with framed old and present day photographs of the historic property as a keepsake.
At Westfield, which was built after World War One for the Armed Forces community, Princess Alexandra viewed the distinctive monument in the centre of the village before unveiling a commemorative stone and meeting trustees, veterans and their families.
The village was founded by the Storey family and landscape architect Thomas Mawson.
Before leaving, the princess said she had very much enjoyed being back in Lancaster and had been fascinated by everything she had seen.
Eagle-eyed onlookers spotted Princess Alexandra wearing a badge of Lancaster’s coat of arms.
The badge was a gift from the city, which awarded the princess the Honorary Freedom of Lancaster back in 1987 on the golden jubilee of city status.
Lancaster was raised from borough to city in 1937 on the Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth the Queen Mother, a year after the princess, their niece, was born.
The princess was welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire Lord Shuttleworth and the new Mayor of Lancaster, Coun David Whitaker.
With Princess Alexandra was her Private Secretary Diane Duke, of Lancaster, former ceremonies officer at Lancaster University.
Half a century on, it was a return meeting for the princess and Roger Carradice, chairman of Lancaster Charity trustees.
He reminded her that the last time they met was 50 years ago when she conferred his degree at Lancaster University.
At Westfield Village Princess Alexandra was greeted by president Tom Bowring, a descendant of the Storey family, and chairman of trustees Dr David Elliott.