Celebrations for the June 2 Coronation of Elizabeth II started well before that date in Ulverstone.

The biggest social event was the Church of England Coronation Ball. According to The Advocate’s expansive piece published on May 22, the town ‘made history’ by holding the first large scale event featuring Coronation emblems. It was held in the Leven Theatre on May 19. In pride of place above the stage was a large, jewelled crown, suspended by a rope of autumn foliage. Another five crowns of royal purple decorated the theatre, outlined in gold chrysanthemums and marigolds. Streamers of red, blue and white were threaded through the crown above the heads of the dancers.

I love that Miss Andrews was one of the judges of the Belle and Matron of the ball. I remember her so well from the Lady Clark Childrens Library. She was involved in most community events, from the Red Cross to the Repertory Society.

On the day itself there was a huge procession through town, led by the Municipal Band, the Salvation Army Band and the local CMF unit [Citizens’ Military Force.] The latter had been asked to assemble at the drill hall dress in full battle dress, with gaiters, rifles and sidearms. Local dignitaries, service organizations, member of the public, scouts, guides, and Ulverstone’s largest number of marching schoolchildren ever assembled followed. Many people were in fancy dress in response to the following request;

Pedestrians, and everybody with bicycles, trucks, cars, perambulators and dogs please decorate, and be at the monument at 1.30, Tuesday…The more fancy dresses the better fun. Prizes for the best exhibits. (Advocate, May 30 1953).

One float in the parade was a tableau of St George (on his draught horse) slaying the dragon. The dragon was a 25ft ‘monster’, snorting fire.

The Sacred Heart Catholic church’s contribution was a presentation of St Patrick.

SOURCE – Mrs Pat McCulloch via the Ulverstone History FB group.

When the procession reached the oval the Methodist Church presented a tableau titled Brittania, featuring a message from Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth I. Next there were patriotic speeches, including some final words from Warden G.M. Lakin. Perhaps his description of the day being the most memorable in the world’s history was a little over the top, but never mind;

The CMF then fired a 21 gun salute, which had some unforeseen repercussions.

ULVERSTONE – POLICE WARNING – Two rounds of .303 ballastite (Ball Powder) and eight rounds of blank ammunition were unaccounted for at the conclusion of the C.M.F’s military salute on the recreation ground on Coronation Day. It was thought the ammunition was taken by children who rushed up to grab empty shells after the salute had been fired. The ammunition could be most dangerous, and parents are requested to check with their children on the matter. Police ask that those finding the ammunition should leave it at the police station. (Advocate, June 4 1953)

Oh my word, I wonder if any was handed in? There may still be a few pieces of Coronation Day ammo rolling around in drawers. 😎

I had no idea I participated in any celebrations, as I was only two years old. However, when I checked my father’s diary he had written;

June 2 – Queen’s Coronation, helped the kids build a bonfire.

So there you are. I was probably running around the fire waving a flag in a state of great excitement. We even had visitors at the farm for the occasion; my paternal grandmother, my aunt and uncle and my cousin John. I must ask John and my older brother Ken if they remember the occasion.

There were lots of bonfires and fireworks as night fell, both at private residences and in public places. The largest was built across the Leven River at the South Road corner.

No doubt things will be a little quieter for the Coronation of Charles III. How times have changed, but how precious are memories.

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