Memories of the early 50s

I was fortunate to be able to go to High Storrs School in September 1951 and, in February 1952, I remember seeing pictures of George VI waving the then Princess Elizabeth off to Kenya. He looked so ill and of course he died in his sleep shortly afterwards.

On the day of his death we were told to go back to our classrooms and our form teacher told us that the King had died. We were all stunned and some girls burst into tears. We had great reverence for the Royal family in those days and the whole country was shocked by the news. We all loved him because he had devoted his life to the service of the country after the abdication of his elder brother Edward in 1936.

I remember too the excitement of the Coronation in June 1953. My parents were friendly with a family who lived in a prefab in Causeway Head Road and they had bought a TV for the occasion - the first one I had ever seen! The 12" screen was set in a box about 3 feet high which stood in a corner on the floor. There must have been about 15 people in that little room. The picture was in black and white, of course, but we were just grateful to be able to share in this wonderful event. We girls were particularly thrilled by the Queen’s dress and that special moment when the Archbishop placed the crown on her head.

All schoolchildren were given a present to commemorate this amazing event. Boys were given a penknife and girls a small pair of scissors inscribed with the date. I still have mine but they’re looking a bit rusty. You can, however, still see the date.

We had great hopes for this lovely young queen and she has never faltered in her devotion and service to the country since that time - 60 years ago.

Gosh, it makes me feel old - but I’m glad I was there.

Anne Thorpe