Solihull’s Coronation celebrations were spread over several weeks in 1953, rather than all taking place on Coronation Day itself – Tuesday 2nd June 1953.
In addition to organising a number of events, Solihull Urban District Council presented souvenir gifts to elderly and infirm residents, and framed photographs of Her Majesty were given to all schools (including private schools) in the district.
In conjunction with Warwickshire Local Education Authority, souvenir gifts were given to all school children in the district. Gifts were also made to all children below school age and a christening mug was given to every child born in the district on Coronation Day.
The Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser of Friday 29 May 1953 reported that eight police officers from mid-Warwickshire were to be amongst 46 officers from the Warwickshire Constabulary to go to London for Coronation Day duties, including one Policewoman – B. M. Timmins from Solihull.
The Coventry Evening Telegraph, 8th April 1953, reported on 55-year-old George Henry Askew of Meriden. As a Cadet with the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he had been one of the thousands of troops lining the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for the coronation of King George V in 1911, and would now be a Standard Bearer for the Coventry Branch of the Royal Artillery Association at the Coronation of King George’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
Meriden Rural District Council decided on a permanent commemoration of the Coronation, in the form of a £150 chain of office for the Chairman, which would be 47 inches long and wrought in 9-carat yellow and white gold.
Solihull town centre was decorated for the Coronation, with traders contributing to the cost.
Eleven area committees were set up across the district to oversee the celebrations and co-ordinate the making of bunting with materials purchased by the Council. Working parties in schools, Women’s Institutes and the Women’s Voluntary Service also helped with the decorations.
Coronation Menu and Recipe Contest
The Birmingham Daily Gazette held a contest in which readers were invited to submit menus and recipes to the newspaper. The edition of Thursday 28th May 1953 reported that the final winner was Mrs E. Little, of 128 Summerfield Road, Solihull, for her Coronation Day luncheon menu submission, for which she received a guinea:
- Tomato Ice;
- Asparagus and butter;
- Crab with potato salad, white-hearted lettuce, sliced tomato and hard-boiled egg;
- Strawberry meringues (colour one half white, the other pink; use blue cream for filling);
- Cold cheese creams;
The following events are known to have taken place:
31st May 1953
At 10am a procession and church parade took place in Knowle from Ardenvale Road and Warwick Road to Knowle Parish Church, where a service took place at 11am.
A United Open Air Service (pictured at the top of the page) was held in Malvern Park, Solihull at 3.30pm on Sunday 31st May, preceded by a parade of service detachments and uniformed organisations which left Solihull School Playing Fields at 2:45pm and processed to Malvern Park via Warwick Road, Poplar Road, High Street and Park Road.
At 4:15pm, the Parade left Malvern Park for Solihull School Playing Fields along a reverse route, with the Chairman of the Council taking the salute at The Council House, Poplar Road.
At 7:30pm, a free concert was given in Malvern Park by Shirley Silver Prize Band.
Castle Bromwich Parish Council judged entries in its Coronation gardens display competition during 30th and 31st May. Judging of the house displays took place on 1st June.
2nd June 1953 – Coronation Day
Public television for elderly people was provided.
At 2pm, Bentley Heath Recreation Ground was opened and there was a children’s fancy dress parade. This was followed by sports and races, and there were various attractions for children, including swings and a helter-skelter. Sports and races took place 5:30pm-8pm and there was a display by Knowle Aero Club, as well as “ankle and talent competitions.” The bonfire was lit at 8pm, and dancing followed. The broadcast speech of Her Majesty the Queen was relayed in Bentley Heath Recreation Ground at 9pm.
Babies born on Coronation Day were to have been presented with two souvenir saving certificates by Castle Bromwich Parish Council, but there were apparently no births reported in Castle Bromwich on Coronation Day.
Poor weather caused the cancellation of Coronation Night events in Castle Bromwich, so these were postponed until Wednesday 3rd June, although fancy dress parades for the children did take place on Coronation Day, as planned.
In Manor Park Road, Castle Bromwich, each child was given as a souvenir a copy of the New Testament with the Royal cypher embossed in gold on the cover. The presentation was made by Rev. H. N. Forbes, Rector of Castle Bromwich. Maypole ribbons got out of hand in the blustering wind and one of the residents apparently had to climb to the top of the pole to release them!
Several street groups ran their events on Saturday 6th June, However, festivities organised by Blythe Cottage and council house tenants in Water Orton Road, Castle Bromwich, did go ahead and were deemed “a complete success.”
Sports for adults and children took place in a field near Knowle and Dorridge Station, with a fancy dress competition also being held. There was a Children’s Tea at 4pm and a High Tea for Old Age Pensioners at 5pm.
In Earlswood there was a fancy dress parade, races for all ages, tea, a costume cricket match, tennis tournament and square dancing.
At 9:15am a United Church Service was held at Hockley Heath, planned either for the Recreation Ground or St Thomas’s Church, depending on the weather. Between 1:30-2pm there was a carnival procession from Aylesbury Road via Stratford Road to the Recreation Ground, with a fancy dress competition taking place 2-2:30pm. This was followed by children’s races, a balloon race and “bowling for pig.” There was a children’s tea at 4:15pm and folk dancing from 4:30-5pm. From 5-8pm there was a motor cycle gymkhana. Square dancing took place at 8pm.
A large-screen television “for old people” was installed at the Guild House, Knowle and at the Red Lion for people to watch the TV broadcast 10:15am-4.30pm. A TV screen was also installed at Hatchford Brook School. Children’s tea parties were held at 5:30pm at the Youth Club, Women’s Institute Hut, School and Men’s Institute. Between 7:30-9:30pm there was a special cinema show at Knowle Cinema for children attending the children’s tea parties.
At 3pm in Major’s Green Hall there was a fancy dress parade and a children’s fancy dress competition, with Prayers for the Queen at 4pm and a tea party at 4:10pm. Children’s sports took place at 6pm. At 7pm there was a play by Tidbury Green Amateur Dramatic Society and Old Time dancing took place at 8pm. Festivities continued until 11pm, including barbecue hot dogs and a bonfire.
Seven babies born at Marston Green Maternity Hospital on Coronation Day were given a “bounty” by Councillor W. Antrobus, Chairman of Meriden Urban District Council.
At 6:30pm there was a fancy dress competition in Malvern Park, which was also the location for an ox roast between 6:30-10pm. Dancing took place 6:30-7:15pm and 8:30-8:55pm. There was also fancy dress, eight-a-side football, Home Guard v. Cricket Club. Solihull Society of Arts performed “The Dumb Wife of Cheapside” in Malvern Park 7:45-8:30pm.
The broadcast speech of Her Majesty the Queen was relayed in Malvern Park at 9pm, followed by dancing. At 10pm there was community singing, and the lighting of the bonfire took place. A firework display took place at 10:30pm, followed by dancing from 11:15pm until midnight.
There was a children’s fancy dress parade with races, tea and a coach trip. At 7:15pm, there were adult races, competitions, music, dancing, a bonfire and fireworks.
Between 2.30pm-6pm at Tidbury Green School there was an opening ceremony, followed by traditional dancing, a children’s procession and fancy dress competition and children’s sports. At 6:15pm there was a comic cricket match and tug o’war. A film show took place at Tidbury Green School at 7:30pm and, at 8pm, there was a performance of “In Apple Pie Order” by Circle Amateur Dramatic Society. From 8:45pm there was a whist drive and dancing.
3rd June 1953
There was coach tour of the Cotswolds for elderly residents.
Several hundred people gathered on The Green for official celebrations organised by Castle Bromwich Parish Council and postponed from Coronation Day. These included a talent competition, a large bonfire and a firework display lasting for over an hour. During the event, 500 hot dogs were distributed free of charge. In the afternoon, 150 old age pensioners had a social, tea, and whist drive at the Victory Hall, receiving a souvenir Coronation mug.
An Old People’s Dinner was held at 1pm at the Greswolde Hotel, followed by a coach tour for old people to view decorations in Solihull, Warwick, Leamington, Coventry at Stratford. from 5:30-9pm there were children’s sports at the Sports Ground, Hampton Road, which also hosted maypole dancing at 6:30pm and a firework display at 10:15pm.
The Carnival King and Queen appeared at Sheldon Cinema.
4th June 1953
A High Tea for all those over 60 was held in Balsall Common, with a large iced cake surmounted by the Royal coach taking pride of place. Entertainment was provided by an accordion player and an acrobatic dancer.
5th June 1953
A firework display was held at Elmdon Park at 10pm.
Balsall and district Old Tyme Dancing Club held a Coronation Ball at Balsall Common Institute, with 60 dancers all in period costumes. Prizes were awarded by Mrs Milburn, whose wartime diaries were published in 1979.
6th June 1953
On Saturday 6th June there were carnivals in Knowle and Sheldon & Elmdon Heath (at Elmdon Park), with a coronation dance held at Hatchford Brook School, Sheldon.
At Balsall Common there was a carnival procession, headed by the ATC Band, no. 1459 Squadron and with practically every local organisation providing a tableau on motor- or horse-drawn vehicle. There was a fancy dress competition and children’s sports, after which the children marched to the schools where tea was served. The Cricket Club provided refreshments at the pavilion and there were various sideshows. In the evening there was a comic football match, sports for adults, and open-air dancing. As dusk fell, there was a fireworks display and a bonfire.
At Shirley Park there was an open fancy dress competition and children’s sports, followed in the evening by a bonfire and firework display.
There was also a fancy dress competition at Chapel Fields School, Olton and Jubilee Park, Lyndon Road. Jubilee Park was also the venue for a Punch and Judy Show, sports, and an ox roast.
8th June 1953
Over 100 members of Castle Bromwich Darby and Joan Club attended a Coronation party at the Victory Hall, Castle Bromwich.
13th June 1953
Elmdon Heath Recreation Ground saw a number of activities take place on Saturday 13th June, including:
- the start and finish of Birmingham Walking Club’s 15 miles Road Race
- the finish of a procession that began in Park Road, Solihull at 2pm and reached Elmdon Heath 45 minutes later, via Lode Lane, Hermitage Road, Cornyx Lane and Damson Lane
- fancy dress competition
- children’s sports
- gymkhana events by Solihull Riding Club
- side shows
- open baby show
- music by Shirley Silver Prize Band
- open air dancing in the evening
28th June 1953
Solihull Cycling Club held an Open Road Race, departing from near the Council House, Poplar Road, Solihull at 9am and covering 105 miles of Warwickshire lanes embracing Knowle, Temple Balsall, Balsall Common and Hampton-in-Arden. Riders had to complete seven laps of a 15-mile circuit.
The Mass Start race finished in Hampton Lane, near the main Warwick Road, opposite Pinfold Nurseries.
Sixty riders took part and the event was won by Mr A. King of Coventry Cycling Club, with his brother, Mr H. W. King coming second. Mr F. Krebs (RAF) was third.
17th-25th July 1953
Warwickshire Coronation Pageant was held at Warwick Castle 17-25th July 1953, with Solihull Urban District providing a complete episode, based on local history at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The episode was a comedy, being a skit on the Home Guard as it depicted recruiting for the 18th-century equivalent.
In many parts of the Solihull district, “street groups” arranged full programmes of activities for Coronation Day.
Superintendent H. Jones, Inspector E. S. Sanders, and Detective Inspector E. W. Jenkins, all of the Solihull Division of the Warwickshire Constabulary, received the Queen’s Coronation medal at a special parade at Woodcote on 14th June 1953.
A few weeks after the Coronation, special free matinee performances of the full-length colour film of the Coronation for residents over 70 years of age were held at:
- the Rex Cinema, Knowle
- Solihull Cinema
- Odeon Cinema, Shirley
- Olton Cinema
- Sheldon Cinema
Over 2,000 children from schools in Castle Bromwich attended the Castle Cinema on Wednesday 24th June to see a full-length film of Queen Elizabeth’s procession.
On 25th July 1953, a Coronation horse show and gymkhana was held at the Show Ground, Solihull Road, Hampton-in-Arden. In addition to the horses, there was a comic dog show, side shows, pony rides and rides on a model railway.
Balsall and district Horticultural Society’s annual show was turned into a Coronation Floral Fete and took place on Saturday 22nd August.
On 7th November 1953, six coronation trees presented by Solihull Horticultural Society to the Solihull district were planted in Brueton Park.
If you have any further information about local Coronation celebrations in 1953, please let us know.
Library Specialist: Heritage & Local Studies
© Solihull Council, 2022.
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