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Coronation Celebrations for Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation took place on 2nd June 1953 and like towns across the Country, Hartlepool and West Hartlepool planned many forms of entertainment to commemorate the occasion. Most households decorated their homes in bunting and union jacks, with some streets doing a coordinated effort like Alma Place, West Hartlepool where “the railings at the front of the houses were decked in red, white and blue paper with every door and window coloured in the same way” (Northern Daily Mail Newspaper, 1953). Businesses went all out with their decorations too, including the Borough Hall in Hartlepool and the Town Hall Theatre in West Hartlepool.
A town show was held at Ward Jackson Park on the 15th of August with marquees that showcased tropical fish, a small gauge railway, the amateur radio club, a pottery demonstration, 750 horticultural entries, and 130 rabbit entries. Entertainment was provided by Durham police dogs, the Boys’ Brigade, Scottish and country dancing, and the boys’ Coronation Cup Race. This show was later held at Grayfields for many years until the costs became unsustainable.
Schools also joined in with the celebrations with lessons postponed and instead, pupils sang songs and said prayers for the new Queen. A special train was put on by the NER (North Eastern Railway) for the children from the colliery communities so they could get home in time for the celebrations. Memorabilia was handed out to school children including this mug which is part of the museum collection.
Dyke House School which was decorated inside and out for the Coronation and some of the students created small tabletop displays.
Many parties were held across the two towns including a Coronation-themed birthday party with union jack hats and a cake. Rationing was still in full effect during the 1950s and things like cake were a rare treat. A fancy-dress street party took place in Turnbull Street and Street parties were funded by the residents themselves, with everyone chipping in.
An ox Roast took place on the Bull Field on Victoria Road behind the Town Hall and the Grand Hotel. People were said to have queued for miles for an ox sandwich, it was the talk of the town. The ox was donated for the event by Mr. E Walker and was slow-roasted throughout the day. The first slice was cut by the Deputy Mayor and the entire event was free to the public. Police were brought in to control crowds due to the popularity of the event.
Seaton Carew put up over 4,000 fairy lights to illuminate the town and held a special bonfire on the town moor.