Wearside Echoes: Queen’s first visit to Sunderland

CORONATION CELEBRATIONS: Dressed as Queen Elizabeth (left) and Queen Victoria are Mrs C Maxwell and Mrs M Burke. Pictured on Saturday, June 6, 1953.
CORONATION CELEBRATIONS: Dressed as Queen Elizabeth (left) and Queen Victoria are Mrs C Maxwell and Mrs M Burke. Pictured on Saturday, June 6, 1953.
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LAND of Hope and Glory rang out from the crowds as the former Princess Elizabeth made her first official visit to Sunderland as Queen in October 1954.

“She smiled and acknowledged the crowds with a gloved hand. The Duke of Edinburgh gaily waved at the 3,000 folk who had braved the downpour,” reported the Echo.

The visit was part of a whistle-stop Coronation tour of Britain, which saw the Royal couple cover dozens of towns and cities in just a few days.

Tea at the Town Hall was the major attraction of the Wearside visit, with the Royal couple greeted on the steps by the Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham and council members.

“After taking tea in the Mayor’s Parlour, the Queen and the Duke signed the visitors’ book and left by the south entrance to inspect a guard of honour,” said the Echo.

“As they emerged, the crowd surged forward and almost surrounded Her Majesty. A path was cleared to the saluting platform and the Queen took the Royal salute alone.”

As darkness fell, so the Royal couple headed to Sunderland’s central station – which had been transformed with banks of flowers and palms for the occasion.

After climbing aboard their train, the Queen and the Duke opened two windows to lean out and say goodbye. Following a short delay, the Duke joked to the Mayoress: “I expect they are looking for the key to wind it up. Isn’t it always the same when you are late?”