James Shaw IV

Coronation 1953

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - 2nd June 1953

(Some memories from childhood)

composite picture of subject items
Flags, bunting, ciphers, jam pans, coins, bibles, muffin men and mugs

  • Union Jack: We had a large Union Jack hanging from an ensign staff (brand new broom pole) mounted on the upstairs bedroom window cill.
  • Royal Standard of Scotland: Alongside the Union Jack, to show his Scottishness, Dad flew a matching Royal Standard of Scotland. Technically this is illegal but someone must have been making and selling the flags!
  • Union Jack Bunting: Lots and lots of this. I remember the walk to the haberdashers with Mum to buy bunting in the form of multiple prints of the flag on a wide bolt of material. Each flag had to be cut out, hemmed and sewn onto white tape.
  • Royal Cipher EIIR: Dad drilled out a piece of hardboard to take a set of Christmas tree lights arranged in the pattern of the cipher. It was placed in the top light in the middle of the downstairs front room.
  • Jam Pan: Mum's jam pan was set in the front garden to act as a reflector for Dad's extension lamp. The whole lot was held down with a few house bricks. At night the two big flags on their ensign staffs were lit up magnificently!
  • Coronation Crown Coin: Possibly every child in the street got one of these in a plastic case with a sliding lid. Personally I would have preferred two half-crowns, at least I could have spent them! Four to the pound sterling (¬£).
  • Coronation Bible: Every child in our street was given one. Nominally the boys got one with a blue cover and the girls one with a red cover. I got told off for telling this to the girl, only-child, next door, who got a blue one because they ran short of red. Dad wrote each child's name in italic script on a paper label stuck onto a flyleaf, matching a similar area on the opposite page telling us that the Queen had been presented with a bible too.
  • Coronation Mug: I don't know if everyone got one of these but I was given a green one and my sister a pink one. (Jasper Ware - not rubbish).
  • Muffin Man: At the time the land alongside the south side of our road was waste ground, backing onto the gulley way, (back alley, twitchell, wynd etc.). This was used for a street celebration. A fancy dress competition was held for the children and I was dressed as The Muffin Man. I had a tray with real muffins baked by Mum. I recall not getting to eat any of them! The local parish churchwarden, a Captain Harrison, (Salvation Army?),  lent me his hand bell to complete the costume. I didn't win a prize.
1950s shopping street scene
Women with shopping baskets and prams. Looking at their infants, not their 'phones

... and Sixty Years on?

The Union Jack is renamed the Union Flag by the BBC and reviled by the political elite but loved by the people, as the 60th Jubilee celebrations showed. The nationalist Scots would keep the Queen, reject their fellow Scots that run Whitehall, embrace the Scandinavians and be crushed under the heel of Brussels. The non-nationalist Scots will carry on doing what they have always done, quietly running the rest of the world!

Bunting now only comes in plastic on a roll and is probably made in China. The haberdasher's was demolished to make way for sheltered housing.

The Royal Cipher, like all our heraldic devices, is slowly vanishing, to be replaced by trendy logos with a half-life of six months and a cost of millions. Germany appears to be wedded to its heraldry, however. Christmas tree lights are no longer as multi-coloured but are white, under the continental influence or of the limited colour range of light emitting diodes.

Jam pans, jelly pans, preserving pans. Along with Kilner Jars have become almost luxury items for the Aga Set, rather than a housewife's essential. I saw an empty jam jar and lid for sale at 49p recently. Cheap jam, (do they use sugar?), can be got for 22p and includes a free jar and lid.

Special issue coins are still a big confidence trick. Nobody spends them and so many are coined that their value never rises. Some things don't change.  

Two percent of the population of Pakistan are Christian yet Pakistan remains a 'Muslim' country. Two percent of the population of the UK claim to be Muslims, so we have become 'multi-cultural'. Nobody would dare suggest giving every child a bible now for fear of upsetting the political elite.

Get your mugs! Genuine China china mugs, none of that Potteries stuff anymore!

Muffins, over-sized, 'cup cakes'. What happened to our muffins? What happened to our 'fairy cakes'? What happened to our 'Cookery Books'? If our American cousins can cope with "Le Répertoire de la Cuisine" I'm sure they can cope with "Mrs Beeton's Cookery Book". Goodness knows what turncoat thought up "Ma Broon's Cook Book". Waste ground, do we still have any? That particular bit became a parade of shops. Our road in 1953 was visited by the milk van, bread van, (horse and petrol), laundry van, dustbin lorry, coal merchant and a Post Office Telephones van and that was about the lot. A few years later a tipper lorry and a chemical company lorry used to park up at night. Otherwise the roads were essentially clear for us. Now I think it is more or less continuous lines of cars on either side. The milk, bread, laundry and coal vehicles have all but disappeared. The dustbin lorry, manned by a team that would collect heavy coal ash from your back yard, has become a recycling truck. Woe betide you if your light-weight plastic bag or box isn't within a metre of the roadside.