Celebrations unveiled to mark Reigate and Redhill's borough status milestone

A Victorian market, historic buildings opening to the public and special theatre presentations are among celebrations which have been unveiled to mark a milestone in Reigate and Redhill's borough status.

This September will see the 150th anniversary of the Royal Charter granting Municipal Borough status to the towns of Reigate and Redhill.

To mark the locally historic date on September 11, 1863, a programme of events will take place with a Victorian theme.

They will include a Victorian market in Redhill's Belfry Shopping Centre and High Street, a week of special presentations at Redhill’s Harlequin Theatre, and many of the borough’s historic buildings opening to the public on Heritage Open Days.

In Reigate, there are plans to recall the occasion 26 years before the Charter was signed when Queen Victoria visited the town en route to Brighton by recreating the floral arch put up across the road in 1837 to greet her arrival.

The events to mark the 150th anniversary were unveiled last week by the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, Councillor Roger Newstead, at a reception in the Harlequin Theatre attended by representatives including local retailers and businesses, the police, historical societies and charities, together with several councillors.

Stressing the significance of the anniversary, Coun Newstead said the celebrations would provide people with an opportunity to “acknowledge the debt we owe to those in 1863, who were dissatisfied with the almost feudal system of government which existed then and fought for a democratically elected council.”

He said: “I hope that the events taking place during this summer will help to enhance the sense of community pride we have in our two towns and their shared history.

“This is particularly important in a cosmopolitan and mobile population such as we have in Reigate and Redhill today.”

He added: “I especially want to endorse the proposals being put forward for schools to mark this anniversary in some way. “It is so important that we pass on to each generation both a knowledge and an appreciation of our past.”

A website is in preparation to carry up-to-date news and information about the anniversary events, and banners will soon be appearing in both towns promoting the ‘Summer of Celebration.'

Community events planned for this year with a Victorian theme include this Sunday’s YMCA Fun Run in Reigate’s Priory Park, with participants being encouraged to dress in Victorian costume.

Other ideas being developed include the placing of commemorative plaques on local buildings which are associated with people of national significance, the planting of 150 trees in public places, schools and private homes in the borough, and putting the original charter on permanent display.

People are also being invited to submit pictures reflecting the character of Reigate and Redhill in 2013 for a photographic competition.

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