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.