Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: 1926-2022
September 15th, 2022
As the country and world mourn the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II we are reminded of the many memories of the Queen that you have added to our website over the years. We have selected a few memories below which we hope you will enjoy and will inspire you to add your own memories of the Queen.
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The death of the much-loved King George VI in 1952 heralded a new Elizabethan age. The Coronation of his 27-year-old eldest daughter as Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953 took place amid a huge air of reverence and optimism. The Coronation ushered in an age of opportunity, equality and prosperity, and banished memories of pre-war hardships. For most people in the 1950s the wireless was at the centre of family life, but when it was announced in 1953 that the Coronation would be televised, this prompted thousands of people to buy their first television set to watch the historic event.
"I'll never forget the day television came to our house. Mum had picked out a tall console model with a circular screen, and it arrived just in time for the Queen's Coronation. Most of Dad's fifteen siblings and Mum's eleven converged on our little house, with their respective spouses and offspring in tow. Mum borrowed every available chair from the neighbours, and still we had to watch the Queen get crowned in shifts. From the living room where the telly took pride of place, first shift moved to the kitchen, where Mum and her sisters had prepared a moveable feast, and move it we did! With plates held aloft, the next stop was the front parlour where the third shift were still waiting their turn, and we'd fill them in on what they were missing while we devoured Cornish pasties, pickled onions and Scotch eggs."
"The actual day of the coronation it rained not only in London but also at the village of Cresswell, home of my mother's family for several centuries. The rain didn't bother us as we spent most of the day in the house of my great aunt watching the ceremony on her 9 inch TV, the only set in the row of fisherman's cottages once known as Fisher Row but now gentrified into South Side. Some days later we had our actual Coronation Party organised by the Women's Institute and held in what had once been the lifeboat house. We of course were given a Coronation mug, a splendid feast and a fancy dress competition, which I won dressed as Old Mother Riley. The celebrations were rounded off with a bonfire on the green."
"I can remember Coronation Day in Shillingstone, the weather was not settled and there were showers. I remember watching the crowning of the Queen on a TV which was in Mrs Fudge's house at the lower end of the village. In the afternoon we had a parade of fancy dress and walked to the recreation field where a fete was held, with skittles and side shows. Shillingstone folk were always ready to celebrate in style."
Places all around Britain commemorated the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 in a variety of ways. Here is one example at the pretty village of Waddington in Lancashire erected a Coronation Bridge and laid out Coronation Gardens, as seen in this view.
The crown in the garden in Bristol's city centre seen in this view was made as part of the decorations for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and was sold to Canada after the celebrations.
The physical landscape of Britain changed significantly throughout Queen Elizabeth II's reign - for example, this was the era that saw the development of motorways, spectacular feats of engineering like new bridges, tower blocks of flats and offices, and New Towns like Stevenage, Basildon, Harlow and others. The creation of New Towns was a significant contribution to resolving post-war housing problems. Stevenage, the first, was born in 1946, and was planned to house 60,000 people in 20 years, as Londoners were relocated and their families grew. Its facilities were attuned to the advent of consumerism; Queensway, the pedestrianised shopping centre, was the first traffic-free shopping zone in Britain. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959, hence its name.
The suspension road bridge that crosses the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal at Runcorn Gap between Runcorn and Widnes was opened by Princess Alexandra on 21 July 1961. More than 5,000 tons of steel was used in the bridge's construction. If the curve of the bridge looks familiar it may be because it reminds you of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was built by the same company, Dorman Long, who also built the Forth Road Bridge, the Severn Bridge and the Humber Bridge. Within 15 years of being built the bridge needed to be widened so that today it carries four lanes of traffic. When this work was completed in 1977 the bridge was renamed the Silver Jubilee Bridge in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee that same year - a most appropriate name as it glistens like silver when the sun shines on it.
"I cannot be specific as to the date of the Queen's visit because I was very young at the time. On the left hand side of the road you can see what was at one time the post office but which later became a carpet shop. On the right hand side of the road (slightly obscured) was Harold Jones's coal merchants yard and next door to it was the green grocers shop which was run by his wife. Everyone was very excited because they were going to see the Queen. Ledsham Road and Chester Road were lined with people all penned back behind metal barriers with innumerable policemen trying to keep the heaving throngs back. The rain poured down and no one could see for the umbrellas. Everyone was soaking wet. The Queen came speeding around the corner in her black, shiny car and everyone cheered and waved their flags even though no-one could see her properly. Luckily I was sitting on top of Harold Jones's wall with my sister Margaret and Doreen, Harold Jones's daughter and for our trouble we got a fleeting glimpse of a tiny figure huddled up in the back seat."
"I used to fly my control line model planes in the car park shown in the photo. My mother and I lived in Highbridge from 1957 until 1960 when we moved to Burnham. I went to the school in Highbridge and remember the Queen being driven past the school on her way to see the flood damage in Devon. We all waved flags as she sped past! On her earlier Coronation I and the kids at the school all got commemorative medallions courtesy of the owner of the big hardware store at the town clock. Good days."
"I attended the Bakery Department Denbighshire Tech. from 1960 to 1962. Mr Nash and Mr Hawkins were the tutors. I went to the Tech rather than getting a job in a bakery because my Youth Employment officer said I was too small for bakery work and needed to gain weight and strength! I won the Burton cup and the Renshaw cup during my time there. I can remember all my classmates but not all their names! Tom Dooley gave me a ride back to Ellesmere Port with my big silver cup on his scooter! Wild ride! I remember a girl with tight curly hair called Angie, also Gwyneth, Brenda, Mike, John Ptitchard, and Donald Mac Master from Rhyl where I worked 2 holiday jobs and lived at his house (his dad was the local vet), he had a sister called Margaret. I remember vividly the big red dragons on the tiles up the staircase at Tech. The Queen visited Wrexham one year and we made the cakes for the official afternoon tea, I remember they were the best Petite Fours I have made. I have been retired one year now after 50 years of baking and yes - I put on weight - too much! I had my own bakery with my wife here in Woodville, New Zealand for 27 of those years. Does anyone else from the Bakery Department from 1960 - 1963 remember me? Is the old Tech. still there?"
A feature of the Great Hall in the castle at Oakham is the astonishing display of more than 200 horseshoes presented by peers of the realm and visiting royalty to the Lord of the Manor. Queen Elizabeth II paid her forfeit with the horseshoe in the centre of this photograph when she visited Oakham in 1967. Her father's is above, made on his visit during World War II. As we can see, the horseshoes became symbolic over time, and sometimes very large.
"I remember the Queen's visit to Rutland in this year. I remember all the children from the local schools forming the shape of a horseshoe in a field/park? and the Queen being driven around the horseshoe waving to us all."
"My grandmother worked in Killips in Wembley. I used to walk up the alley from Harrowdene Road besides the railroad tracks up to Killips to visit with my grandmother. I loved visiting Wembley from North Wembley, most especially on FA Cup Final days. My mum and I would go up to Wembley High Road and wait to wave at Queen Elizabeth as she rode by to attend the FA Cup Final."
"I remember well receiving the Silver Jubilee coin (still have it!) when my sister and I had just started at Merland Rise Primary School. The headteacher became Mrs Pepper but I can't recall the name of the lovely lady who was headteacher before her. We used to always go to Tattenham Corner Station to wave at the Queen on Derby Day with the school but like other memories posted here, we never saw the Queen, only a waving glove! We used to have to use toilet rolls trimmed with red, white and blue crepe paper to wave! Magical memories. I grew up in Merland Rise from 1972 until I left in May 1997. It still looks much the same when I look on Google Maps. I see Masters and the Co-op still at Tattie Corner."
"I vividly remember the day a young Queen Elizabeth II visited my home town of Dewsbury. We were in a fever of excitement at my Junior and Infants school, waiting for the bus to take us into Dewsbury town centre to welcome the Queen with hundreds if not thousands of local people. On arrival in Dewsbury we were shepherded by our teachers to our appointed place. Great! We had a wonderful position on the Long Causeway to the left of the Town Hall. We were all given Union Jacks and told to be patient, the Queen would soon arrive. At long last there she was, in this [to me anyway] great big car. The crowd went wild, the cheering was deafening, I got a brief glimpse and then she was gone. I waved my Union Jack for ages after that moment in time, carried away by the sheer excitement of it all. The local paper printed pictures of that day, one shows the roundabout in front of the Town Hall where my mother could clearly be seen together with my younger brother."
"I was sixteen and my brother did the food for the Queen and all the MPs, he got to meet her! I got so close I could touch her - it was the most fantastic day - followed by street parties that seemed to last forever."
"I remember, when I was a Van salesman with Sunblest in Aberdeen - my round was Royal Deeside. My morning started at 02.30hrs in Northfield in Aberdeen, loaded I would head for Deeside. I enjoyed my round but more so when I reached Bridge of Gairn, for my first cup of the day. We had long chats over our tea, did Mrs Don and I. Somehow or another, we always got round to speaking about the family that lived in a castle not far away. Mrs Don would tell me stories of Prince Charles and Princess Anne when they were small children. Word has it they and their mother would visit her Post Office and General Store to purchase sweets regularly, on the way home. One of the so called visits to her shop, Mrs Don said to the Queen that the children could have the sweets for nothing, their mother replied "They have their own money, they will pay their way". If only that were the case today. Happy memories of Mrs Don and the Bridge of Gairn PO & General Store."
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