CELEBRATION: The booklet printed by the Mercury as part of the coronation in 1953
CELEBRATION: The booklet printed by the Mercury as part of the coronation in 1953

IT was 65 years ago – but to some of our long standing readers, memories of the Queen’s coronation spark memories of how the town celebrated the event.

One such reader, sorting through some family memorabilia, came across his mother’s copy of a souvenir programme which was designed and printed by the Mercury in 1953, and brought it back into the shop on Market Place thinking we and other readers may be interested in recalling how the coronation was marked.

The booklet was priced at one shilling and included a schedule of events organised to mark the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2 that year.

However, celebrations took place between May 23 to August 1, to ensure they coincided with the Barnard Castle Meet parade.

Festivities included judging the best-decorated street, house and shop competitions, an open golf tournament, archery and fencing demonstrations and matches at Barnard Castle Cricket Club.

On the day of the coronation, bells rang at St Mary’s Parish Church and special services were held in churches throughout the town.

A children’s sports event took place on the town’s cricket field followed by tea in the Witham Hall.

The day concluded with a bonfire and fireworks display on the lower Demesnes which was provided by Glaxo.

The 31-page booklet indicates that The Bowes Museum’s gardens reflected the occasion with a central floral crown.

The terrace was filled with coloured sunshades and visitors enjoyed open-air dancing in the park. Inside the museum, coloured reproductions of kings and queens of England were on display and refreshments were served.

The booklet featured a short biography of Queen Elizabeth II up until the death of her father King George VI and the day she was proclaimed queen.

It also included photos of Her Majesty including one with her husband Prince Phillip and their two eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

Barnard Castle Coronation Committee organised the celebrations, which were sponsored by the Barnard Castle Urban District Council.

Cllr Mrs A M Rutter, chairman of the coronation committee, wrote somewhat prophetically: “This souvenir programme is a small memento of a great occasion.

“In years to come our children and grandchildren will value it more perhaps than we do ourselves as a record of generous endeavour.”

The booklet prompts one question.

When the Queen passes, how will Barney mark the coronation of the king – presumably Charles III?