WEARSIDERS went “Coronation Crazy” in June 1953 – refusing to let torrential rain dampen their patriotic spirits on June 2.
“Parties were the order of the day, only ranking second in importance to the Coronation ceremony itself,” reported the Echo at the time.
“Groups of neighbours huddled around TV sets early this morning, anxious not to miss a moment of the day’s events as the Princess was crowned Queen.”
One Echo reader, who was 18 at the time Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen, still has vivid memories of the wet, windy – but ultimately cheerful – day.
“We must have been the only ones round our doors with a TV, judging by the number of people who came to our house when me dad rented a telly from Rediffusion,” she said.
“I helped me mam to make tea and sandwiches and we had a bit of a sing-song after. The Coronation was shown at the pictures, but sharing round the telly was the best experience.”
Staff at the Echo were in a party mood too – running a hugely-popular Coronation Excursion to London, leaving from Sunderland Central Station the night before the ceremony.
Those not lucky enough to get to the capital were invited to enjoy the royal fun at the Roker Hotel instead, where a television had been specially installed in the lounge.
And for Wearsiders who felt the urge to celebrate with a little dancing, the Seaburn Hotel hosted a special Coronation Ball on June 2 – complete with novelty prizes.
Other events across Sunderland and East Durham included:
l The presentation of three shillings and sixpence to 558 pensioners by Houghton District Urban Council, in an envelope with the Queen’s portrait on it.
l A replica of the Buckingham Palace balcony, complete with a picture of the young Queen, which was set up in Horden and drew the crowds.
l A Coronation party in Seaham, with a gigantic six-sided cake as the star attraction. Made by five local women, it was eaten by 260 local residents.
l A beacon bonfire – one in a country-wide chain – which was lit at Penshaw Hill. The bonfire was 25ft high and built by Penshaw Boy’s Scoots Troop.
l A competition hosted by Blackhall Coronation Committee, won by 13-year-old Heather Hall with a quilt which took two years to make.
l The crowning of the Coronation Youth Queen at the Embassy Ballroom in Wheatley Hill. Elizabeth Covery, of Ludworth, won the title.
l A tea for 400 pensioners held at the Welfare Institute in Thornley. Mrs Million, who tied the knot at 16, was named as the youngest to marry in the group.
l Two thousand free sandwiches filled with tinned ox, made by two Houghton tradesmen, handed out free from a butcher’s shop in Sunderland Street.
The men of the Durham Light Infantry, who were holding the top of “Little Gibraltar” in the Korean frontline, marked the Coronation in a very special way.
“They leaped from their trenches, gave three rousing cheers for Queen Elizabeth, then jumped back before the astonished Chinese had time to fire,” stated the Echo.
“Earlier, the Chinese had awoken to find a huge Coronation emblem stuck right in front of their trenches, carried over earlier by a team of Durhams.
“As one soldier put it, ‘We thought we ought to do something for the Coronation’.”
l Vaux Breweries provided three teams of horses for the Coronation procession, with one of the teams being driven by Vaux chairman Mr F. Douglas Nicholson.