Coronation Streets

As I write this, there is a service taking place at Westminster Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

I would not consider myself a Royalist, or a Monarchist, or any other such ist that you may attempt to attribute to me (careful) but I can appreciate the sense of history and the sense of occasion. I know people of other nationalities who tell me that they envy the history and tradition that we have with our monarchy.

Marrying a post on national history with a little family history, I share with you this photograph from the 1953 coronation taken on Birtles Street in Collyhurst, Manchester. In that sea of young faces, among that wild throng, my Dad stares out. Also present are his two brothers, along also with two of his cousins.

As well as being a visual document of a historic occasion, I treasure this for being one of only a handful of photographs that exist of my Dad’s younger brother Frank, who was to die just twelve months after this was taken aged not quite four years old. That is him dead center, wearing the coat, his head turned to his right.

present are Dad,Brian,Frank,Richard Hamnett,Pat Curran

Another photograph being shared by Manchester Down Memory Lane today is this one capturing the women of Walter Street, Manchester, getting ready for their street party.

Look at that for elbow grease! How times have changed.

photo (21)

I have photographs from the Silver Jubilee party I was at in 1977, but I decline to include them  here as I do not want to inflict upon you the unsightly vision of my young, knobbly knees, laid bare in shorts.

Back then nearly every street held a celebratory party, with everyone contributing to the decorations, food and drink. I can recall one of the neighbours rolling out an out of tune piano to add to the caterwauling.

Come the Diamond Celebrations of 2012, and only a handful of the streets in my local area bothered to hold such parties. The national flags and bunting were as sparse then as they were this year for St.George’s Day. But when we have a World Cup or European Championship year, or for events such as the recent London-held Olympics, you can see them in abundance.

It seems that up here, in the north of England at least, there is a dearth of national pride until a sporting event awakens that slumbering sense of patriotism and brings the people together in a mutual air of hope.

But that hope inevitably disappoints, and the mood of the nation takes yet another dip.

Or, as of recent days, the death of a local serviceman calls the community to come together in a mutual need for solace, and comfort, and hope.

But parties? Royal celebrations? The jury is out.

19 thoughts on “Coronation Streets

  1. “Come the Diamond Celebrations of 2012, and only a handful of the streets in my local area bothered to hold such parties.” Very interesting. A former coworker of mine was in London last year and saw some of the celebrations. She was very excited! But I can understand how the realities of life dim the desire to celebrate. What great family photos though!


    • Yes I am sure there were a lot of celebrations in London-the Queen’s backyard, so to speak.
      I speak only of my experience in the north, where seems to exist not an anti-monarchy feeling as such, more that modern curse: apathy.
      But there is an interest seemingly in the relationship of William and Kate, and Harry, much in the mould of Princess Diana’s appeal. More young, modern, in touch. We shall see.


      • I think apathy sums up a lot about the state of our country at the moment. I remember the Silver Jubilee street party I attended as a 3 year old in Wideopen.

        Now living in Watford just above London, we did still have a street party for the “recent” jubilee and informal ones for the wedding too. I wonder what will happen to commemorate WW1? There is an old peoples home at the end of the street so we are replacing the memorial and then having an event inside with the oldies.


    • Thank you. It was very much last minute-I was about to write on another subject when I noticed the service taking place on the tv. That illustrates the apathy for you, I wasn’t even aware of it until that point.


    • My love of old photographs is well documented. The one with the women cleaning the pavements is not mine, but shared on Facebook by several Manchester/Local history sites. The one with all the children on does belong to me. With five family members on, including my Dad aged 13, I think it is great too! Thank you for commenting.


  2. Hello Jackdaw, thanks for posting the photo which I believe has my brother and myself in the centre of the front row. I am now trying to work out if you are Graham or Billy’s son.

    Regards Steve.


  3. Hi Andy, there was a family who lived in Birtles Street at the time called The Crowes so you may understand why I thought that there was a Jackdaw connection. Two of their sons, Willy and Graham are probably somewhere on your photo and it would be interesting if we could put some more names to it.
    Some of the names that you have already mentioned seem to ring more rusty old bells than Mike Oldfield’s grandad. The Murrays, Pat Curran, Richard Hamnett and Billy Maudsley are all names that I last heard of nearly sixty years ago, maybe they remember my elder sisters Rita and Barbara Crewe from number 52 who might be stood at the back of your photo.
    Other names that now spring to mind are The Masons, Frankie, Stella and David, The Leemings John and Brenda, The Kytes, not sure if their kids were Anne and Billy, The Bulls, Linda and Anne, The Peacocks and The Hornby’s.
    I am sure that they will all remember Peggies shop at the bottom of the street and may even remember using the old lamp post at the top of the street as a Maypole.
    At the back of my mind I seem to remember a decorator called Murray and a Mary or May Murray, was that any relation to you.

    Regards Steve.


    • The Bulls sound familiar, think I may have heard of them in conversation.
      When my Dad’s brother next visits, I will ask him about these names and get back to you. Also I will ask my Dad’s cousin Pat.


  4. Hello, the Birtles street, photograph with shows my older sister Jennifer second from the left in what looks like a gabardine coat, between her and my eldest sister it looks like he’s bending down is my cousin Bob, My eldest sister Barbara ,holding on to me. I was about two and a half at the time. We all lived around the corner in Dalton Street.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gwenneth. Good to put some more names to the faces on here. My Dad and my Grandparents often spoke about their time in Collyhurst. They were the Murray family who lived on Birtles Street.


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