Celebrations

The townspeople of Highbridge has always been ready to celebrate special occasions and the reports that we have unearthed, together with a few photographs, show that everyone has been prepared to, not only dress up themselves, but also to bedeck the town with flags and bunting. An early celebration was that for the Diamond Jubilee in1897 of Queen Victoria.

Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 the Coronation of King Edward VII was held in 1902 and this was another occasion when Highbridge could show its patriotism.

There were a number of occasions when Highbridge celebrated over the intervening years, for the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911 the streets were again a blaze of colour, a picture in the Town Square section illustrates the fervour shown by the townspeople. The next Royal Celebration was for: –

THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE VI – 12TH MAY 1937

Major Sutherland called a meeting in January 1937, to discuss the best way of celebrating the coming Coronation, how much money would be needed and how it should be raised.  It was agreed by twelve members of an Executive Committee (six from Highbridge) that a penny on the rates should raise the money.  This would be allocated to the Burnham and Highbridge wards, with a portion to Berrow.

The committees were elected to cater for: – Luncheon, Children’s Tea Committee and Sports and Decorations. In all 140 people formed the united Committee.

The whole town was beautifully decorated; streets, roads and houses, both electricity and gas were being adopted in many pretty designs. They were kept up for more than a week and much admired by those passing through the town.

At 10 am. “The Warmley Silver Military Band” marched through the town.

10.15 am. A large number of people assembled at the Town Square, where a Religious Service was held and the Chairman Mr W.H. Hatcher gave a Loyal Address.

The vicar then took charge of the United Service, supported by the Revd J. Roberts, Rev. E. De Ville and Captain Kirkwood (Salvation Army).  The service was concluded with the blessing and the National Anthem.  Mr Victor Dyer, conducted the singing, led by the band and several choirs.

By 12.30 the elderly townspeople were entering the Town Hall that was decorated with the National Colours, the tables decorated with vases of real flowers, catering for 250 people, never had the Town Hall looked better.  The Committee had arranged a fine menu consisting of roast and corned beef, ham and tongue with bread, pickles, cheese and sauces followed by mince and apple pies, beer and minerals to drink. A toast was given with great enthusiasm to their beloved King & Queen.  Cigarettes, which had been presented by Messrs. Wills of Bristol, were handed to all that needed them and were very well enjoyed and greatly appreciated.

At 1.30 pm. a programme of sports commenced in the Recreation Ground, the children’s events numbered 16, these were watched by a large number of townspeople.

By 4.30 pm. the children’s procession had formed up in Grange Avenue, all the children carried either flags or bannerettes.  Companies of Girl Guides, Cubs and Brownies, with their banners led a splendid procession; accompanied by Ministers of several churches, Magistrates, Members of the Highbridge ward.  The children were received at the Town Hall, each child’s place had a Coronation cup awaiting him or her; the whole affair went without a hitch; the children would remember the importance of this occasion for many years to come.

The sports programme was continued after tea when a large crowd watched ten events for both men and women. At the conclusion of the sports Major Sutherland presented 7 silver cups and 7 silver teaspoons to the tug-of-war teams, together with a silver cup presented by Mr. F. G. Dyer for the highest individual score for skittles.

At 7.30 p.m. was the ceremony of planting a Commemorative tree, (kindly given by Mr. W. H. Hatcher) in the Recreation Ground.

The Warmley Military silver band brought this excellent programme of the day to a close.  The carnival dance, arranged by the Entertainment’s Committee was held in the Town Hall, a large number of people had a most enjoyable time this went on until the early hours of the morning.  The Red Star band, leader Mr Jack Webber, supplied the music.

A final account showed a balance of £10.11s.0d with recommendations that it go towards a drinking fountain being erected in the Recreation Ground.

Finally – 66 unemployed persons within the Highbridge Ward were supplied with a voucher each, to the value of 2/-(10p) to be exchanged by Highbridge tradesmen.

Local people or the press probably photographed the activities, but we have not been able to locate these, it must be borne in mind however that cameras were not so plentiful in the 1930’s.

Many people probably remember the next Celebration, this was: –

THE CORONATION OF HER GRACIOUS MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2nd JUNE 1953

Highbridge, on this momentous occasion, was a riot of colour; the streets of the town had been gaily decorated.  It had been difficult to discover where the centres of the decorations were, because the streets had been liberally swathed in red, white and blue. Flags and bunting had been stretched across the streets from the famous town clock, making it look like a giant Maypole.

A large congregation attended the Civil Service that was held on the morning, singing and praying under a canopy of colour.  The Town Hall normally a rather drab building, had been festooned with bunting and the shops nearby in Market Street were draped with hundred of flags.  The “Railway Hotel” was nearly hidden beneath flags, the colourful display being carried across the street.

For many days prior to the celebrations the residents had spent hours bedecking their streets with flags, bunting and streamers.  The ingenuity and perseverance shown by many was cruelly tested when on the eve of the celebration wind and rain tore the decorations apart.  No matter, next morning out came the ladders and within a very short time the loyal greetings were once again blowing in the breeze.

Residents of the streets of Highbridge had been making plans for months to ensure that everyone, especially the children, remembered this great occasion.  To many it would be a ‘once and only’ opportunity to demonstrate their patriotic fervour, barely a single house had not got some decoration of its own.  Whilst houses not only vied with each other to express their loyalty, but whole streets attempted to be the most spectacular.  The organisers had taken special care of the street celebrations to make sure no one was forgotten, young folk, old folk, and people of every class.  This was going to be a day to rejoice and rejoice they would.

The religious and serious part of the Highbridge Coronation Celebrations ended with the final words at the United Service at the Town Square.  Within a short time of the service ending the be flagged streets in the town were nearly deserted, people had hurried home to join in their own or street celebrations, the jollity continuing into the night.

Owners of that rare commodity, a television receiver, quickly took up their positions in front of the screen, not wanting to miss the pomp and pageantry-taking place in London.  Because of television they were now able to feel “They were part of the Coronation” proper.

Those less fortunate, not having access to a T.V. queued at the “Regent Cinema” where there were six large screen televisions; four in the stalls and two in the balcony.  The cinema owners, and “Sheppard and Sparks” of Market Street, earned the gratitude of the townsfolk for providing them with the opportunity to view the Coronation Procession and Service.  People had queued from 9 o’clock to take up their seats, some waited for seats throughout the day, and many stood at the back of the stalls and in the aisles to obtain a view.  Those watching the television in the cinema echoed both the solemnity and jollity of the crowds in London.

Street parties abounded in Highbridge everyone having their own special programme, entertainment, fancy dress, and tea parties were the most popular.  Fancy dress parades were very popular events in Highbridge, some Coronation Festivities were held on the Saturday, most of which were held indoor due to the inclement weather. We have obtained details of some parties and have referred to them alphabetically.

Alstone Road

There was a fancy dress competition for adults with entrants parading along the road; the winner Jack Ward as “Town Crier” led it. Heading the children’s procession was four-year-old Peter Hand, who drawing a miniature Coronation Coach, this won the first prize.  About eighty adults and children sat down to tea in Mr. M. Duckett’s shed, this was in the field where the sports had taken place, children were presented with a Coronation mug, the old folk also received a gift.

Bertha Terrace

Residents of the Terrace and of Market Street found it necessary on the Tuesday to erect a sacking and canvas screen to protect the children from a stiff breeze.  A large Coronation cake, the ingredients were given by the residents, was made by Mrs. Bishop. At their party each child was given a mug full of sweets plus a shilling.  Games and sports were held in the street.

British Legion

A Coronation treat that had been arranged by the Highbridge British Legion for over 80 children of members on the Saturday was a memorable occasion.  A programme of sports had been arranged and was held on the Recreation Ground.  An iced Coronation cake was the centre of attention at the tea party held in the Town Hall.  To round off the day there was a programme of films comprising “The Tonto Basin Outlaws”, Laurel and Hardy in “The Housetow” and two coloured cartoons “Mary’s Little Lamb” and “Sunshine Makers”.

Burnham Road

Because of uncertain weather the organisers accepted the offer of Mr. Bert Redding and used his garage on the Monday afternoon.  The residents from Half-way House to just beyond the Burnham Road Post Office enjoyed this party.  Sports for the children were held in a nearby field, over the entrance, there was an arch of red, white and blue.  Mrs. Brookfield had made the Coronation cake for the 52 children; a miniature coach and horses given by Mrs, Clayton, topped it.

The other section of Burnham Road, from near the Post Office to the Old Burnham Road held its party on the Saturday on the lawn of Mrs. Davey’s house.  The centre piece was a magnificent cake, each of the 21 children was given a cup, saucer and plate, plus sixpence, bag of sweets, an orange and ices.  Sports and games were held after tea and prizes given.

Church Street

The “White Hart Hotel” hosted the party for Church Street, the licensee Mrs. M. Harwood dressed up as Queen Elizabeth I.  Printed invitations had been sent out to 90 children to attend this gay party, most of them wearing fancy dress.  A huge iced Coronation cake brought sparkle to their eyes and there was great excitement shown at the moment this lovely cake was cut.  Mr Freddie Fay amused the children at this party, which was held in the skittle alley and he led them all in community singing.  There was a charming dance display by pupils of Erin Fay, the dance teacher.  Prizes were awarded for the best fancy dress and, before reluctantly, making their departure everyone joined in singing the Coronation song “Golden Coach”. Children received a Coronation beaker filled with sweets, plus a new shilling, together with an orange and an ice cream.

Clyce Road

Dr. J.S.W.Little gave permission for the party to be held in his surgery, this had to accommodate 38 children as well as the many helpers.  Everything went well, the chief feature of the table being a lovely iced cake, decorated in red, white and blue and inscribed “ER II Coronation. Long may she reign”.  The children each received a Coronation mug with toffees, one shilling, a paper hat, and streamers, teaser and a flag – so had plenty to take home.  The old age pensioner’s egg and spoon race was held during the adult sports, this was followed by an adult meat supper at the home of Mrs. Lovibond.  A tug-of-war between 25 women and 8 men took place and, after much hilarity, in a win for the former.

Cuthbert Street

Mrs. Mason and Capt. Brittan of the Highbridge Salvation Army judged the fancy dresses of sixty-four children who attended the party for Cuthbert Street and Newtown Road.  Children under 11 received a mug and sweets, those over 11 years old, had two shillings.  The less than 11 years and babies also received National Savings Stamps.  After tea the children went to the home of Mrs.Cook at 41, Poplar Estate to see on television the Coronation Newsreel, they returned for community singing and dancing.

East and South Avenues

Mr. F. Parsons, the Vice-Chairman of Burnham Urban District Council, wearing a crown of cardboard and paper, presided over the Coronation party given to 75 children on Saturday.  Each child received a Coronation beaker. Two iced Coronation cakes graced the party and the children also received confectionery, apple, orange, stick of rock, chocolate, crisps, ice cream, a paper hat and a balloon.  Following the sports all joined in the community singing.

Grange Avenue

Possibly the last of the Coronation street parties took place on the Thursday when about 46 children were entertained to tea near Mr. F. Morgan’s home. The centrepiece of the table, being a cake weighing eleven pounds, this was accompanied by another cake shaped like a crown.  Whilst the children were being photographed the adults sat down to tea.  Next came the grand march past of the children to receive their souvenirs, every child from 5 – 16 received a souvenir pen.  All children under 5 received beakers filled with chocolates, an orange, plus a shilling.  Older people were presented with Coronation souvenir tins of tea.  An Old Time dance was held during the evening.

Highbridge Road

That part of the road between Worston Road and the Territorial Army H.Q. held their party on the Monday afternoon.  It was a delightful setting on the lawn at the rear of “Brewery House”, by permission of Mr. & Mrs. Porter.  Pride of place was the Coronation cake, surmounted by a crown, the residents had given ingredients and Mrs. Porter made the cake.  Souvenir brooches were presented to 38 children together with sweets and balloons; games and races were held.

The section from the Territorial Army H.Q. to Half Way house held its party on the Tuesday, 22 children were entertained at the table where the centrepiece was a two sided cutout of the Queen mounted on a revolving turntable.  Mrs Tales had loaned her garage for the event and had also made a Coronation cake surmounted by a crown.  Each child, in addition to being given a silver spoon also had a National Savings stamp in a souvenir folder, a bag of sweets, a teaser and a coloured balloon.

Huntspill Road

Fifteen children living in this road held their party on the Wednesday in Dr. J.S.W. Little’s surgery, each received a cup (filled with sweets) a saucer and a plate.  There was a tremendous amount of food and everyone had an excellent time at the games that followed.

King Street

A gay little party was held 40 children and their parents in the large garage loaned by Mr. Tucker.  The children each received a souvenir mug, presented by the oldest resident Mrs. Saunders.  A Coronation cake given by Mrs. Scaddon, was the highlight of the festivity.  The souvenir mugs were filled with sweets and each child received a pencil engraved with their names.  The party ended in the evening with a concert and singsong.

Morland Road

On Tuesday afternoon one of the largest parties took place in the canteen of Morland’s Factory. Over 125 children from families living in North and West Avenue and Morland Road received a souvenir mug.  Oranges and sweets were received, plus prizes from the sports held nearby.  The parents tucked into the food left by the children; there had been a mountain of food supplied for all.

Old Burnham Road

This celebration started as early as 10.00 o’clock, on the Tuesday morning when Mrs Hatcher installed a television set in his garage.  Everyone was invited to watch the Coronation. In the afternoon 30 children attended the party, each receiving a souvenir cup, saucer and plate for under 7 years old; older children received an engraved mug. A Coronation cake was made by Mrs. Wells.

Crackers, sweets, balloons and paper hats were given to each child, plus an orange.  Sports and games were enjoyed after tea.

Poplar Estate

A different celebration was presented to the 47 children from one half of the estate, leaving Highbridge at 11.00 a.m. on the Monday morning they went in two coaches to Bristol Zoo.  Accompanied by their parents they saw the Coronation decorations in Bristol before going to the zoo.  Arriving back at Highbridge at 5.00 o’clock they were soon sitting down to an enormous spread in the Scout and Guide headquarters in Coronation Road.  There were two Coronation cakes and each child received a mug of sweets, money and ices.  The remainder of the day was spent in games and sports at the headquarters.

Children from the other half of the estate also held their party in the Scout and Guide headquarters but on the Tuesday afternoon.  The hut had been gaily decorated and over 90 children sat down to an enormous spread, the tables piled with food.  Again each child was presented with a mug filled with sweets and was afterwards entertained with sports and a firework display.  There was dancing during the evening, the adults joined in the fun with a party and games

Social Club

Most of the members had spent the morning and afternoon helping to organise various street parties but come the evening it was their turn to celebrate, again on the Tuesday evening.  The skittle alley had been festooned with flags; streamers and other decorations made especially for the occasion.  Sixty members and guests sat down to a supper of home cooked ham and salad.  After the meal and a loyal toast the members watched a newsreel of the Coronation and scenes around London, and saw the Queen switch on the illuminations over the City.

John Street

The youngsters of the street enjoyed a fireworks display at their Coronation party held on Saturday.  They were lucky to be able to have their party in the street where Mrs. Dinham the licensee of “The Globe Inn” presented each of the 23 children with a souvenir mug, plus ice cream and a orange.  A fancy dress competition caused some fun, more adults joining in, although not to receive prizes.  Old age pensioners each received a gift of three shillings and sixpence.  Supper for the adults followed in the evening where there was dancing and singing.

Walrow

The children had their party on the Tuesday afternoon and after a tremendous tea, each child was presented with a mug filled with toffees and a two-shilling piece.  Celebrations continued into the evening with sports and games.

Worston Lane

Children living in the Highbridge end of Worston Lane held their party on Coronation day in the afternoon, 75 sat down at 3.00 o’clock to begin the festivities.  The 3rd Burnham Scout Troop had generously loaned two large tents, a third was provided by Mr. T. Heal.  The proceedings had been opened by a fancy dress parade, each child receiving a small gift.  Rain prevented any sports before tea, the highlight being a Coronation cake made by Mrs. Giles.  All children were presented with a mug filled with sweets.  After the sports and games took place, a skittle match for the adults followed.

(Footnote)

To many readers – it may be strange to read that the children at the parties received a mug, cup or beaker filled with sweets, plus the gift of oranges, balloons, ‘teasers’ etc.  It must be remembered that following World War II there was still rationing until 1953 the year of the Coronation. The sweet ration had been 2ozs per week for a very long time and fruit was still not plentiful.  Therefore to receive all these sweets at one go, plus fruit and paper hats, streamers, balloons etc. the children in June 1953, thought that all their Christmas’s had come at once.

Also it will be noted that part of Highbridge Road and Worston Lane were included in the Highbridge Coronation street party reports.  At that time the boundaries were not as they are today and residents of those areas were included in Highbridge.  The most outstanding feature of the decorations in Highbridge, were the premises of Mr. P. Griffin (Fishmonger) Church Street, for his shop window display and the decorations over the shop.

Highbridge Jubilee Celebrations 1977

At the “Queen’s Jubilee Party” in the Morland Estate over 120 children from Queen’s Square, West Avenue, East Avenue and South Avenue had an enjoyable time. The organising committee under Mrs Skuse had produced a programme of party games, egg and spoon race and sack and balloon races. Tea was for the twelve’s and under followed by a competition and, upon leaving every boy and girl received a mug, bag of sweets and a balloon. Later a disco was held at the Social Club for the 13 to 16 year olds and Committee members.

Another ‘high spot’ was the Jubilee Celebrations prepared by the ladies from Grange Avenue, Church Street and Springfield Road areas. Among beautifully decorated surroundings the children enjoyed well-organised sports and a superb tea; every chid receiving a jubilee mug, crown and a bag of sweets, plus a ball. The event was held on the Recreation Ground with Dr & Mrs Creamer judging the fancy hat competition.

The Clyce Road held an event for 80 residents and former residents at a party on the Wednesday night, the party for chiefly adults, was held at the top of the road. The organising committee comprised Mrs Lovibond, Mrs Mitchell, Mrs Sully, Miss Lynham, Miss Fackrell and MissWall.

About 130 children from Huntspill, Clyce and Alstone Roads had their party in a field belonging to Mr Duckett on the Bank Holiday Monday. Each child received a jubilee mug, the older children a jubilee plate and those up to six years of age a silver-plated spoon; Mrs Ladd was chair of the organising committee.

Celebrations on the Poplar Estate were organised by Mary Picton, Dianne Wharton and Myra Spice. For months prior to the party raffle tickets had been on sale for a box of groceries.  A jumble sale and sponsored skittle match had raised funds for the party under an estate decorated with flags. On the day, a party was held in the Town Hall for seventy children and a separate section had been set-aside for the senior citizens, all thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. All children, on leaving, received a gift bag.

Funds that remained were used to take the children to Bristol Zoo or they could go Ice Skating, there was also a coach trip to Weymouth; the trips took place later in the year.

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