Damp Streets, it’s Cold and Windy but the Partying Carries on!

As we mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th anniversary of her Coronation this weekend, we take a look back at local events celebrating this joyous event which took place on 2nd June 1953, following the death of her father, King George VI, on 6th February the previous year.

The coronation was a momentous occasion, especially since it was the first coronation to be televised, broadcast from Alexandra Palace by the BBC. In the weeks and days leading up to the Queen’s Coronation, there was a frenzy of television sales and rentals as families didn’t want to miss out on watching the big event, with television sets often going on “special offer” in the shops.

People enjoyed a public holiday and if they were not able to travel to join the crowds in central London, they got together at home to watch the Coronation on their new or rented television sets and celebrated with family, neighbours and friends.

A truly British day

The day itself was, in truly British fashion, rather cold, grey and rainy. And in true British fashion the celebrations continued despite the weather, with over 1000 children joining in the celebrations at parties and entertainment across halls, front rooms and makeshift tents in the Borough of Hornsey – Hornsey, Highgate, Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Harringay and Stroud Green.

Children at eating at trestle tables at the  Coronation Street Party, Malvern Road, Turnpike Lane
The children’s Coronation Street Party, Malvern Road, Turnpike Lane

As a last minute decision to avoid a soaking in the rain, the Mattison Road fancy dress parade was held inside South Harringay School. The Borough winners of the fancy dress parade were a girl dressed as a doll in a box, and two boys, one dressed as a beefeater and the other as a scarecrow. 96 children played games, watched a Punch and Judy Show (one of several that day!) and took part in ‘community singing’.

A makeshift tent

In Campsbourne Road, a makeshift tent was set up in the middle of the street, under which 260 children had a celebration tea. More tarpaulins were erected to provide space out of the rain for the talent and fancy dress competitions. It was a late night for the Campsbourne Road party-goers with many going to bed at 2am having danced “Knees up, Mother Brown” in the rain.

Children in fancy dress at the Malvern Road street party
Children in fancy dress at the Malvern Road street party

Many other parties took place in the borough, including one at Rectory Road (demolished late 1960s – editor) where there was a firework display, and at The Grove, Crouch End, there were Punch & Judy clowns, a conjurer and a three piece dance band. At Canon Road (demolished 1968 – editor), a joint party was held for 250 children from seven different streets. Over 1,000 cakes and 160 sausage rolls were provided for the children, and a quarter pound of sweets and a piece of Coronation cake was given to each child. At almost all the parties, children were given gifts such as Coronation mugs and plates, as well as prizes for various contests.

More to come

However, Coronation Day itself was not the end of the festivities. There was a “Coronation Variety” revue show at Hornsey Town Hall, with performances during the week of the coronation, and with a cast of 170 performing original ‘sketches, songs, dances and ballet’.

On the Saturday following Coronation Day, 6th of June, several street parties took place, taking advantage of better weather. The Mayor of Hornsey (Alderman Grimshaw) and his deputy (Alderman Muldoon) attended 22 parties between them and awarded certificates to Bryanstone Road (Crouch End), The Grove (Crouch End), Mildura Court, Church Lane, (Hornsey), Campsbourne Road and Middelton Road (Hornsey) for the best street decorations.

The Mayor and Mrs Grimshaw visiting the Hawthorne Road Coronation Street Party
The Mayor and Mrs Grimshaw visiting the Hawthorne Road Coronation Street Party

We extend very best wishes to Her Majesty on this her Platinum Jubilee.

Written by Bella Wilkinson, of City of London Girls’ School Sixth Form (Y12), undertaking work experience with Hornsey Historical Society

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