Southport acclaimed Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip “joyously” when the royal couple visited the town in 1955.
As the state funeral takes place today to commemorate the Queen, who reigned for an incredible 70 years, those who were around at the time will look back fondly on her visit to Southport all those years ago, just a few months after her Coronation.
Queen Elizabeth also visited the town in 1985. Do you remember either visit?
The momentous occasion in the 1950s was recorded by both the Southport Visiter and the Southport Guardian newspapers.
The Southport Guardian, published on Saturday, 16th April 1955, ran with the headline: “25 Historic Minutes – Town Acclaims Queen and Duke Joyously”.
The report said: “The plaudits of the wildly excited thousands who saw Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and her handsome consort the Duke of Edinburgh have died away, but the memory of that golden afternoon remains forever stamped as the highlight of five decades of Southport’s history.
“From the moment the happy Royal couple swept in their shimmering limousine across the borough boundary, they received a tumultuous welcome from the huge crowds packing the lavishly decorated four-mile route through the resort – a welcome unsurpassed in its warmth and sincerity anywhere in Her Majesty’s two-day tour of the County Palatine.”
The visit brought back some memories for people in the Stand Up For Southport Facebook group.
Penny Powell said: “I lived on Preston New Road. The cavalcade drove down there and everyone lined the pavements, with flags flying and bunting everywhere.”
Helen Jenkins said: “I was at Churchtown Primary and they took us all to Preston New Road with flags to wave as she passed.”
Justin Waddington said: “I remember when she came in the mid ‘80s. I was an Air Cadet at RAF Woodvale and we performed a guard of honour as she was driven onto the airfield.”
The newspaper reports of the Queen’s visit in 1955 are part of a display celebrating Britain’s longest serving monarch on the first floor of The Atkinson, on Lord Street in Southport.
It was created to herald Queen Elizabeth II becoming the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee earlier this year, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom and beyond.
The exhibition includes commemorative ceramics from The Atkinson’s collection as well as the newspapers recording the royal visit to Southport in 1955.
One fascinating item is a ticket for the Coronation Celebration Swimming Gala at the old Southport Sea Bathing Lake, admitting one pupil, on Wednesday, 3rd June 1953.
Organised by Southport Education Committee, the event hosted pupils from schools including: Southport High School for Girls; King George V School; Technical College; and School of Art.
The Atkinson is also displaying two pastel paintings by artist William Dring RA, both gifts of Councillor Paul Carter, which were acquired in 1948: HRH Princess Elizabeth receiving the Freedom of the City of London, and a portrait of HRH Princess Elizabeth.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, The Atkinson hosted a book of condolence which allowed hundreds of local people to sign and remember the monarch in their own words.
As a mark of respect, the flag at the nearby Southport Town Hall was lowered to half-mast.
The Princess Diana Memorial Gardens on Lord Street, Southport meanwhile was designated as a place where residents could leave floral tributes in memory of Her Majesty the Queen.
Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Clare Carragher said: ““While we all deal with loss differently, we can remember the Queen fondly and look back at the many occasions she visited our wonderful borough and touched the lives of so many.
“She officially made numerous visits to Sefton including a stop off in Bootle and Crosby in October 1954 and a tour of Lancashire which included a motor cavalcade driving through Southport in April, 1955.
“The Grand National at Aintree was attended by the Queen in March, 1956 and it wasn’t until December, 1962 that the Monarch returned to Bootle.
“Further visits to Bootle were recorded in June 1977 as part of her Silver Jubilee Tour and also in May 1993 when the Queen visited Bootle Town Hall commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.
“Prior to that Her Majesty the Queen spent time in Southport in June, 1985 which included a visit to Altcar Training Camp.
“I’m sure so many people will remember these visits to Sefton with great fondness and contentment.”
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