Sixty years ago on Feb 6th it was announced on the radio that King George VI had died peacefully in his sleep during the night at Sandringham House and that Princess Elizabeth had now become Queen Elizabeth II. I was just four and a half years old at the time and so the news did not register much to me, but I do remember that all radio programm's were stopped and for the next few days all that could be heard was sombre music. It must have been a very sad and final occasion for many, they had lost a king who had stood by them during the dark days of the second world war, who had shared there grief and who gave them courage through their darkest days and had shared also in their triumphant celebrations when victory was assured. It was just seven years since the end of the war in Europe and much of England was still in ruins, there must have been uncertainty, how would the young princess cope, would she be up to the task.
Just over a year later 60 years ago tomorrow June 2nd . Things were very different I was just two months short from my sixth birthday and I have quite a few memories of that day. The day started very wet in fact according to the weather reports of the period we were in the middle of a period of atrocious weather that would go on till the middle of June http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/philip-eden/Coronation-Weather.htm.
There was some news circulating that morning about Edmond Hilary had reached the summit of Everest but I was too excited about the forthcoming party to care much about that. I was at one of my Aunts at the time and she was one of the few residents in the street with one of these new fangled contraptions called a television or as my Uncle referred called it, a goggle box. It seemed to me that nearly half the street had packed into my Aunts front room to watch the very small screen in the corner of the room and all the time us kids played together in the background. I recall seeing the gold coach coming down the Mall. I also recall seeing snippets of the arrival at the Abbey and of the crowning ceremony, but for us kids it went on far too long.
Finally it was over and I can recall going out into the street and watching a small parade with a made up band of people playing a variety of instruments including someone with a zinc bath strapped to his front and was hitting it with too much force for my liking. After the parade had passed the trestle tables came out and everyone on the street had worked together to provide a feast of proportions I had never seen before, how they had achieved this when you recall that many food items were still under rationing is anyone’s guess. We all had a great time and each of us kids went away with a coronation mug provided by the committee.
The one constant person through the lives of all who can recall that day in 1953 is our queen. Family and friends have come and gone, for some of us our surroundings have changed a few times along with our places of work but our Queen Elizabeth has ruled and shared with us our joys and our sorrows. We have learnt to enjoy the many celebrations, the weddings, the births, the Birthdays and the anniversary’s of her reign.
I remember very well the celebrations surrounding her silver Jubilee in 1977. We were living in Derby at the time and were keen walkers. I had spotted an article in our local newspaper about the Jubilee celebrations in Matlock. They were holding a competition to discover the person who could show the most unique way of reaching the town for the celebrations and we decide that we would walk the 25 miles from Derby to Matlock and at the same time raise money for The Princes Trust. We decorated our rucksacks with Union Jacks and wore red white and blue woollen hats. Just as in the morning of the Coronation the weather was atrocious, we got soaked to the skin even before we reached Belper. But with a few pints inside after a few stops at the local hostelries it didn’t seem too bad. Eventually it began to clear up and by the time we reached Matlock Bath the sun was sinning and our collection boxes were feeling full. We reached Matlock just in time to join the parade and we were later presented the trophy for the most unusual way of reaching Matlock. Much later after having our photo taken and an interview for the Derby Evening Post and many more pints we caught the train back to Derby having had a wonderful day out.
Again I am looking forward to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Skegness; I will be putting the effort in and decorating the Mobility scooter just as I did for William & Kates wedding. Sunday June 3rd is the big day in Skegness, they are pedestrianising part of Lumley road where they will be having craft stalls, live music and a gathering of famous mascots throughout the day and later in the evening we will be attending a traditional street party. Let us hope that this time the weather will be fine, but come rain or shine I will be raising my glass and once more and will be singing God Save the Queen and hoping she will reign over us for many years to come.
Please feel free to share any of your own memories