That 12″ black & white, flickering tv….

More memories of events surrounding the coronation of our late Queen Elizabeth in 1953. This time it’s Rob Coles looking back to his youth and a royal ceremony viewed in black and white.

“I don’t collect “Royals” but I do have a large collection of magazines.   Copies of a few front covers etc attached,  

It was a dull overcast day.  I was living in Shakespeare Avenue, off the Bear Flat, we didn’t have a television. 

My grandparents who lived in Tennyson, Road, Lower Weston did so I was told/invited to watch the Coronation there. 

I sat in a darkened room watching a 12″ black and white, more grey and white, flickering TV and listened to a commentary by Richard Dimbleby whose voice I recognised from the popular radio programme Down You Way.

The ceremony went on forever, I wondered how a call of nature would be handled?  It was all very mysterious to a young school boy.   

The shots of the long procession back to Buckingham Palace in the rain was memorable, maybe it was the anticipation of it nearing the end .  I noticed that the crowds were facing the wrong way watching through periscopes. 

Release came after the sausage rolls and sandwiches.   It was then a cycle ride home via Victoria Bridge Road – past the Green Park engine sheds. That and the day off school were the best bits. 

What did impress me was the transatlantic flight of an RAF Canberra aircraft carrying the film – or was it tapes – of the event that allowed them to be shown in North America and Canada on the same day as an event tool place. A first!

A few weeks later the news of the  Royal Naval Review at Spithead impressed. Fourteen miles of ships, with them were Bristol Paddle Steamers, including the Bristol Queen and others that were household names.   

Incidentally the new Royal Yacht Britannia was not finished in time for the Coronation tour of the Pacific – including Australia and New Zealand – so the passenger liner Gothic was used instead.    A model of the liner was made by the Admiralty in Bath

A couple of Coronations earlier a great uncle of mine was a Royal Postilion and, according to family history, could well have been then on the Coronation coach.

PS. Now off to the Tower!”