'The end of an era' is an overused phrase, but when Queen Victoria died 120 years ago, it was very much the case.

At 6.30 in the evening on Tuesday, January 22, 1901, the momentous Victorian age came to an end.

For 64 long years the queen had ruled over a nation that was transformed by an industrial revolution, and a mighty overseas Empire that had gone from strength to strength.

Victoria acceded the throne in 1837 and, when the end finally came, she had reigned longer than most of her subjects had been alive.

Despite the frequently dreadful social conditions and inequality which Britain’s rapid industrialisation had foisted on many people, there was great affection and respect for the queen.

If London in 1901 was the emerging development banker of the world, Newcastle was the beating heart of a region which built things, dug stuff out of the ground, and whose ships crisscrossed the oceans of the world.

Tyneside was one of the mighty powerhouses of the British Empire.

Here's how we reported on the death of 81-year-old Queen Victoria and the local reaction 120 years ago.

Evening Chronicle, Wednesday 23 January, 1901

Death of the Queen

"Newcastle realised this morning, in common with the rest of the nation, the extent of the loss it had suffered in the death of Queen Victoria and mourned quietly, but deeply.

Few of the inhabitants had ever seen Her Majesty but all knew of her good works, and cherished towards her a feeling of love and reverence, and the news of her death, after so brief an illness, came upon them as a great shock, filling their hearts with sorrow.

The queen had reigned longer than most people had lived, and had come to be regarded almost as an institution, immovable and imperishable.

No one had any thought of death coming to Her Majesty until a few days ago, and when the end came, with dreadful suddenness, a feeling of awe overtook the people, and left them depressed.

Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901
Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901

This morning, some households and shops left their blinds drawn, and business people went to their offices with a spirit of subdued sorrow upon them.

Otherwise, matters went on very much as usual. Flags were flying half-mast everywhere, from the town hall and the Castle, from churches and chapels, from clubs and offices, from residential villas, and from all the foreign consulates in the city.

These were the chief outward manifestations of the city’s sorrow. Business was conducted in the morning very much as on any other day. The board schools were open but will probably close on the day of the funeral.

At the municipal buildings, the mayor was down early, and had a consultation with the town clerk, but it was stated that there was nothing to report.

The mayor has dispatched a telegram of condolence to the royal family on the preceding night, but beyond that nothing had been done.

At the local police courts, the presiding magistrates referred to the queen’s death in terms of sorrow.

The Tyne Theatre will be closed this afternoon and evening, but the performances will be resumed tomorrow.

In Gateshead, profound sorrow was expressed by all classes of people.

Entertainments and other functions in the sister borough were abandoned on receipt of the news. At the parish church of St Mary’s the bell was tolled.

In the mid-Tyne district, at the shipyards, works, public offices and many private houses, the Union Jack was displayed at half-mast.

On the river, vessels of all nationalities and of all sizes, from Parson’s tiny Turbinia; to the big Japanese battleship at present lying at Hebburn, were flying flags in the customary way as a mark of respect to the memory of the dead sovereign.

A large number of men at Jarrow's Palmer’s shipyard took holiday today and other establishments were similarly affected."

The people of Tyneside – and beyond – were now living in a new Edwardian era.

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