Wonderful four days of Celebrations to mark the Queens Diamond Jubilee here in Skegness. As always the weather played a big part in how the events panned out, but overall we were very lucky as they say 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. Saturday started us of with a mainly sunny start, I have a very relaxing day in Tower Gardens, enjoying the exhibition of work by some talented artists from the Skegness Art Club, Browsing through some well preserved Vintage cars and motorcycles from Boston and sitting back and enjoying the wonderful sounds of Brass from the talented Skegness Silver band, what more could you ask for. Unfortunately I arrived home to see my horse (bonfire) in the Derby put on a dismal display to come in way down the field behind the Triumphant Camelot.
Sunday was a complete washout as far as the main celebrations in Lumley Road Skegness went. It had persistenly rained all through Saturday night and Sunday morning. The main shopping area had been closed off to traffic and groups and a parade had been booked. The groups had to be moved indoors and the parade was cancelled, so disappointing for all the orginizers. We made the effort to be there for the opening ceremony but only got drenched in the process and it was so cold as well.
We had been invited to a local street party at 4pm on the same day and it was still raining but by now it had been reduced to a drizzle. We arrived to find the party still set to go on and small band was playing under a make do shelter and one of the hotels in the area had opened up there dining room for the food. It was a case of carry on regardless and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The earliest street parties were held around the end of World War I in 1919 with “Peace Teas” to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. They were tea parties that were focussed on a special treat for children in those times of hardship and were quite formal sit down affairs. These street parties organised by residents were very popular and were probably a development of the more formal public street dinners that had historically been held for occasions such as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Since that time the community get-together has grown in popularity as famous events are celebrated across the nation on a local level. 1945 saw the VE (Victory in Europe) Day street parties as streets gathered together to celebrate the end of the war in Europe. Cries of “God save the Queen” rang through the street parties of 1953 as the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation on 2nd June brought thousands to the streets to welcome their new monarch and watch the first Coronation to be broadcast on TV. It was on this day that a British classic dish was born - Coronation Chicken which remains a popular nostalgic party dish to this day.
Other major events that have been celebrated with street parties include the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in1977, the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and, of course, last year’s Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. It has not only been Royal events that have joined residents together though as England’s World Cup Victory in 1966 had people across the country joining together to celebrate with street parties.
Originally, the traditional street party was at times of austerity so food would have been simple and consisted of whatever was available. In 1953 for the Queen’s coronation, food was still rationed after World War II but households were given an extra pound of sugar and 4 oz of margarine for the celebrations.
The parties of today may not have the same constraints but they will still be a celebration of traditional British food and tradition. I hope the tradition of holding street parties will go on long after my generation have vacated this earth, we all need an excuse to get to know our neighbours and this often leads to bonds being formed in the community that last long after the party has ended.
I will continue this look back at the 4 days of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in my next blog.