Royal visit - Weston is 'first class' says princess

PUBLISHED: 15:30 25 July 2011 | UPDATED: 16:31 25 July 2011

(click on image for larger view)  The Princess Royal visiting Weston TIC, Sea Front, Pier and Pier Square for official reopening.

(click on image for larger view) The Princess Royal visiting Weston TIC, Sea Front, Pier and Pier Square for official reopening.

Archant

HUNDREDS of excited revellers crammed along Weston seafront to catch a glimpse of a royal figure today (Mon).

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne arrived at the Winter Gardens at 11am before strolling along to the area known locally as pier square.

Last week the Mercury exclusively revealed the news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth had given her personal approval for the square to be named after Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Wearing big black shades and dressed in a long cream skirt and orange jacket, the princess officially unveiled a plaque for the square, opposite the Grand Pier, which is now named the Princess Royal Square.

As eager crowds gathered and waved Union Jack flags, the princess, who last visited the town in 2008, took to the microphone to say how impressed she was with the resort.

She said: “Thank you very much for the honour of unveiling this plaque and using my name for the square.

“Can I just offer my congratulations to all of you and everyone who has been involved in this fascinating transformation for Weston.

“I hope that everybody who comes here will appreciate the effort that has been put in in order to maintain Weston’s place as a really first class venue for an enjoyable holiday experience.”

During her visit she walked with North Somerset Council’s chief executive, Graham Turner, and met many people, including Mary Macfarlane, the great-granddaughter of Thomas Macfarlane, who donated the square’s water feature in 1913.

The princess viewed the new tourist information centre before perusing an exhibition of the seafront enhancements programme in the Winter Gardens ballroom.

She also went on the Grand Pier, which was decorated with bunting and a huge welcome banner.

She met with the attraction’s owners and was invited to unveil a plaque to commemorate the reopening of the pier.

North Somerset Council contractors started work on the £3.9million square back in 2010 and it opened in February this year.

Before work began the historic Coalbrookdale fountain, known as the Boy and Serpent, was removed to be refurbished as part of the multi-million pound project.

The area, stretching from Salisbury Terrace to Carlton Street and from the promenade to the junctions of Oxford Street and Regent Street, has a new pedestrian section with granite paving, stone seating areas and lawns.

KEEP an eye on this website for a video and photo gallery of the royal visit.

Here is what some people thought of Princess Anne:

Kewstoke couple, Paul and Carol Bressington, said they were thrilled to see the princess.

Carol, aged 67, of Norton Lane, said: “We saw in last week’s Mercury that she was coming so we came along and followed her from the Winter Gardens along the seafront.

“She was dressed smartly, with subtle tones, and I think this is a great thing for Weston.”

Paul, aged 66, said: “She didn’t rush through. She spent a lot of time taking the trouble to speak to people and I think it’s nice we got permission to name it after her.”

Teresa Hughes, aged 52, of Stonebridge Road, Weston, said: “We were in town so I brought the grandchildren along to see the princess.

“They liked it and we have all had a great time.

“It’s good that she has come here as it brings a lot to the town.

“I think she looked smart and sophisticated.”

Holidaymaker Valerie Sim has been coming to Weston with her family since the 1970s.

The 64-year-old said: “Our kids have grown up with holidays in Weston.

“We always come here and we think the work the council has done is fantastic – we just now hope that something will be done with Birnbeck Pier.”

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