Coronation Memories (as published in Bawburgh News)

Bawburgh’s Coronation celebrations were held on 2nd June 1953, on the field to the east of Harts Lane, where races were held in threatening drizzly weather.


Second left Evelyn Minter’s Mum Olive Temple, and in the bathchair, 93 year-old Mr. Henry Woods. Percy Garrod, who took the photo tells us children wrecked the chair later!

Evelyn Minter tells us she remembers taking part in the races, wearing a new red, white and blue dress. But she was so enthusiastic that the new dress split, and she had to go home to change (fortunately not far!). Evelyn also saw the Queen in St. Stephens Street, whilst working at Mackintosh’s sweet factory. This could have been the visit to open the Operating Theatres at the old Norfolk & Norwich Hospital in 1957. All Norwich children received a round tin of Toffees from Mackintoshs as a souvenir of the Coronation (see below with the purple covered book also received).

June Farrow remembers flag waving to the Queen after a Norwich visit en route to Sandringham, along Dereham Road, Costessey (also possibly 1957). June also remembers the street party put on for the Coronation Celebrations, when they had jellies and cakes whilst living at Richmond Road, Costessey.

Wally Gould is far left on the photo right, which shows the children’s tea-party put on at the old Village Hall on Coronation Day.

Ivy Baker had just moved back to Bawburgh and remembers the races, and also a social evening at the Village Hall that night.

Brenda Bell was also at the tea-party, but cannot be seen! Headmaster, Mr. Steed and Vicar Rev. Davies (far right back) are in attendance. On the 29th May 1953 Bawburgh schoolchildren were presented with Coronation Souvenir mugs and New Testaments.

Jack Clements was living in Little Melton, but remembers watching the ceremony on a “home made” television at the Kings Head—made by Joe Flitton, the landlord! It was a very snowy picture. He can also recollect the Coronation (in 1937) of King George VI, because there was a tea party at Little Melton and a mug presented.
Outside the village, Kath Gould remembers a street party where she was living in Essex.
Jean Blake in Norwich remembers receiving the Book and commemorative tin of toffees (see left, Editor’s book and tin).
Janet Hubbard also received the tin of toffees, and remembers watching the ceremony on a small black and white television.
Averyl Richards was in Bexley where they received a mug and Coronation Crown, and she remembers listening to the Coronation on the radio.
June Tucker was in Letchworth, and she remembers having time off school to see the film of the Coronation at the cinema after the event.
Carol Stephens also remembers seeing the Coronation film at the cinema, with the school (in Suffolk).
Gwyneth Boswell was in Southport and remembers her whole family travelling to nearby Hightown on the train in order to see the Coronation on the television of her parents' friends. Ten people were crowded round a small black and white set and what is still memorable is the pouring rain and the solemnity of the actual crowning.
Victoria Smillie went to her Auntie Daisy's.  They had more money and had a television.  So with big sister Margaret and cousin Bruce they sat and watched the Coronation, drinking Heinz tomato soup from their Coronation mugs.  Sadly she broke her mug fleeing from a bee shortly afterwards.  She also had a Dinky or Corgi Coronation coach & horses, long since gone.  There was a cut out of the coach & horses on the back of the cornflake packet too!
Terry Molloy’s memory of the 1953 Coronation was as a six year old boy, attending a boarding prep school on the outskirts of Bridport, Dorset. They were given the day off and dressed in Sunday best before being walked in a crocodile down into the town, clutching Union Jack flags to wave at the gala procession of floats in the High Street. They then assembled at the Town Hall and, along with all the other children in the town, were presented with a Coronation Mug by the Lord Mayor. Sadly, Terry’s mug stayed with him for many years before being lost in the mists of time and many house moves.
Roger Thompson’s Coronation Day was spent steaming very very slowly across the Indian Ocean in a rusty troopship called The Empire Trooper.  He was en route to Hong Kong via Suez (no landing because of tense Anglo-Egyptian standoff), Aden, Colombo, and Singapore.  At parade on deck that day, the C.O. announced that Tensing and Hillary had conquered Everest; all heads turned northward, expecting to see the pair giving them a wave from the summit. He also remembers having the cook's speciality of Bombe Alaska for pud that evening, and that there was considerably increased nocturnal activity among the gnarled old soldiers and their temporary girl friends, wives joining their husbands in Singapore.  When they arrived there, the old soldiers donned dark glasses and lurked in corners, while the wives greeted their husbands with enthusiastic delight at the gangway.
Garry Wheatley’s most vivid memory of the day was also the announcement that the New Zealander,
Edmund Hillary, had conquered Everest and thinking what a wonderful coronation present it was for the Queen!
Colin Robinson says he was living in the village where he was born, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex. The village held games in the playing field and he remembers being entered for the sack race, and the egg & spoon, but does not think he won! He was given a coronation spoon and plate to keep. The weather was sunny.
Rosemarie Robinson was not far away also in Sussex, but they did not know each other. She remembers going to the hall that was attached to the local pub and having jelly in a corrugated waxed dish that was fluted at the edges. She was given a mug and her Dad insisted she got a plate as well.  She thinks he had been out celebrating in his own way!
Marie Firrell tells us that as the 1953 Coronation excitement was building, she was preoccupied with her Dad seriously ill in hospital. But travelling through London to visit him she does recall a fantastic atmosphere, with flags flying, the horse guards practising and streets being shut off. “There was a real hustle & bustle” she remembers. On the day itself she and friend Marjorie saw events unfold on Pathe News at The Empire in Great Yarmouth. A very different day to earlier that year when she’d left the cinema to find herself ankle deep in seawater. 1953 was also the year of the great floods all along the east coast.
Malcolm Tucker’s Mother took him in 1936 to Hammersmith Broadway to see King George V and Queen Mary celebrating their Silver Jubilee - over that summer they processed in various parts of the country. Then many years later after the war, Malcolm became the catering manager for Taylor Walkers Brewery for nine years. One of the public houses he had catering control of was the Red Lion Parliament Street, (opposite the Cenotaph) and it was from there that he was able to have perfect viewing of the Armistice Parades, King George VI funeral , our Queen’s Coronation and various other Royal Occasions.. The Red Lion was outside the main gate to Scotland Yard and was known as the Scotland yard Tap, and was well used by the CID in the Dive Bar. Malcolm tells us he was also privileged to be able to park his car in the yard, and always got a smart salute by the police man on duty as he drove in. The Coronation Day weather was raining all day, and he also remember Queen Salote of Tonga drenched to the skin laughing and waving as she was driven past in her open landau.
Tina Feilden’s family rented a caravan to sleep in, which was in Kensington, as an overflow to the flat of a friend.  Her father worked for Barclays Bank, and had been given two tickets for seats on the corner of Haymarket and Pall Mall.  Her parents and younger brother went to a cinema to watch, while she and her elder brother had the seats outside and a television inside the bank.   They saw the procession pass twice in the drizzle, with big cheers for Queen Salote of Tonga, who was the only one to brave the weather in an open carriage.  Sadly most of the other monarchs and VIPs were hidden in closed carriages, but the soldiers, bands and general atmosphere were terrific.  She remembers that London was wonderfully decorated with flags and flowers, a sight not seen since before the War. Tina was also presented to the Queen with the last season of debutantes at Buckingham Palace in 1958. She amusingly tells us she had broken her leg skating the week before, was in plaster up to the knee – and could not curtsey. She deliberately left her crutches behind, and was determined to try to curtsey, but discovered on the way to the Throne Room that she would fall over backwards. She wore one of the newly fashionable dresses just on or above the knee, which did, therefore, show a greyish gap between plaster and leg – so elegant! Two of Tina’s dresses, actually were part of an Exhibition at Kensington Palace three years ago, regarding those “last Debutantes”.
Sandy Munro remembers that his parents got hold of a TV set and this meant that almost the whole of their street crammed in to watch the coverage of the Coronation.  The screen was so small, and the day itself so dull and rainy, that it was hard to make very much out from the pictures, but he remembers (as did Malcolm and Tina) seeing Queen Salote of Tonga sitting in an open carriage in the procession, in the rain, with a huge peacock feather sticking up out of her hair.  She was a big lady, and this made her look even bigger! The other thing he remembers, apart from receiving the miniature State Carriage and horses (see previous page), was writing to the Queen's dressmaker, Norman Hartnell, to find out what national emblems were incorporated in the Queen's gown she wore at the Coronation.  He had a school quiz one holiday after the Coronation, and this was one of the questions.  He got a very friendly reply, with a picture of the gown and details of the emblems incorporated in it, representing the four countries of the UK and seven Commonwealth countries.

With many thanks to Victoria Smillie for her inspiration and help in assembling Coronation memories.