Report by Alex Evans, Reporter
Monday, June 4, 2012
‘THERE has been no Coronation like this one. The Coronation ceremony has ceased to be the prerogative of lords and ladies’ – these are the words printed on the front page of the Mercury almost 60 years ago about Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.
The Mercury has dug through its archives and found the issue from the week our diamond monarch was first celebrated, at her original coronation.
The Weston Mercury and Somersetshire Herald, as it was then known, explained in its edition of June 5, 1953 how ‘rural district folk’ celebrated and ‘danced beneath the fairy lights’ during the first coronation screened on television.
The 14-page broadsheet, which cost 3d, reported news from across the area both in its town and country editions.
These photographs handed in by Mercury readers show coronation street parties in Weston – one is, aptly, Jubilee Road, and the other Upper Church Road.
Christine Osbourne, aged 67 and a resident of Banwell in 1953, shared a photograph of Coronation celebrations in the village, when men dressed as women and vice versa.
She said: “It is just absolutely wonderful that Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for 60 years.
“When the coronation was held, rationing had just ended and we had a party with chocolate and cakes.
“We all crowded round a 9-inch TV set to see it and ever since then I have always been a massive fan of the Royal Family.”
Much as they will this week, crowds gathered, celebrated and toasted the monarch together.
‘It was very gay between the showers’ was one of the more eye-catching headlines from the parties described in the edition.
The story described how children had to hide under tables at Axbridge’s coronation tea party due to a freak hailstorm.
Meanwhile, free cider in Congresbury kept revellers happy: “The cold evening may have meant that a little more cider was consumed by the roadside at Congresbury than was anticipated.
“But there were a couple of barrels on the farm waggon, and the drink was free to all who danced beneath the fairy lights.”
Fatted calves were also killed in the village: “Sports were followed by the fare including salads and ham and veal (a calf was killed especially).”
Children gathered at a village hall in Uphill to watch the ceremony at a time when televisions were far less common.
It was the role of television that the Mercury alluded to most often that day. The newspaper seemed to be responding to a seismic shift in media, much like the growth of the internet today.
The Mercury’s leading article on the front page said: “There has been no Coronation like this one. It has left a nation almost stupefied at the wonder of Television. We have shared, as never have the English people have shared before, the solemnity, the piety and the beauty of a Coronation service.
“The Coronation ceremony has ceased to be the prerogative of lords and ladies... It is immensely for the good that the sight of the crowning of an English Queen should have been opened up to millions
“’What, no colour?’, they will say. But we in our generation are content. We have looked, and we have listened.
“On Coronation Day 1953, we could not be drawn from the chimney corner.”
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