Huge bonfire was built at Mapperley Brickworks to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII and could be seen for miles around

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After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 the new King Edward Vll’s Coronation had been set for June 26, 1902. This however had to be  postponed “owing to our illness.”

The proclamation issued by the palace stated that it was postponed “ indefinitely, and great grief prevails throughout the metropolis.” “His Majesty”was suffering from  Perityphlitis, a malady resembling appendicitiswith, an abscess in the right side . This was reported by the Globe newspaper, on June 25, 1902.

Five days later on June 30 the Globe stated that “the King had made a remarkable recovery, was completely out of danger” and the bonfires could be lit in celebration.

These simple statement in the press did not convey the seriousness of the situation.

Edward’s coronation had originally been scheduled for June 26, but two days before on June 24, Edward was diagnosed with appendicitis.

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Thanks to the discovery of anaesthesia he was able to undergo a new  life-saving operation which was performed by Sir Frederick Treves who was a prominent British surgeon, and an expert in anatomy.

Up until this time appendicitis was not treated operatively and thus any one suffering from this complaint had a mortality rate of greater than 50%. The chance of survival was small.!

When the King objected to missing the coronation to have the surgery, the famous surgeon Sir Joseph Lister told him, “Then, Your Majesty, you will be attending it as a corpse”.

Lister was a British surgeon who was  a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. Lister also promoted the idea of sterile surgery, some thing still new at the time, while he had been working at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

These two, the  most eminent surgeons of their day, were consulted on Edwards Condition. Treves, with Lister’s support, then performed what was at the time a radical operation. They drained the infected appendix through a small incision. The next day the future King  was sitting up in bed smoking a cigar! Two weeks later it was announced that he was out of danger.


As a result of this success Treves was honoured with a baronetcy and as a consequence appendix surgery entered the medical mainstream for the first time in history. Its practice and popularity then grew in no small part to the fact that it had been performed on the highest in the land, and he had survived.

It was ordered, that as part of the celebrations for both the coronation and the Kings recovery, bonfires were to be lit on the high points around the country.

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A site on Mapperley Plains, part of the old brick works, was chosen for this area. This position was opposite the west end of Wells Road and was one of the highest points in the county. This fact  would ensure that the fire was seen for many miles.

The huge bonfire was constructed from old railway sleepers, pit props, trees and tar barrels rising over 40 feet in height. It was surmounted by a tower built from sleepers on which was erected a flag pole. The whole effect looked like an old roman signal station. A special guard, including police officers, was placed on the construction to make sure that no one damaged or set fire to the bonfire, before the allotted time.

Monday evening, June 30th 1902 at 10pm was the time set for the lighting of all these countrywide fires. When the time came the Mapperley offering was lit amongst great civic ceremony and speeches with all the local dignitaries being present for the occasion.

This was a big event for the area and attracted large crowd of onlookers to witness the experience., At the appointed time the fire was lit and was soon highly visible right across the hills to the next fire, in the line across the country.

After all the problems and delays the Kings Coronation finally took place some 2 months later  on August 9th 1902.

The Edwardian era had arrived, the last period of British history to be named for the reigning monarch..

This Edwardian period is sometimes portrayed as a romantic golden age of long summer afternoons and garden parties, basking in a sun that never sets on the British Empire. This perception was created in the 1920s and later by those who remembered the Edwardian age with nostalgia, looking back to their childhoods across the abyss of the Great War. 

The Edwardian age was also seen as a mediocre period of pleasure between the great achievements of the preceding Victorian age and the catastrophe of the following war.

Edward ruled Britain for nine years from 1901 until his death in 1910.


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