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The other coronation
THE official celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee are fast approaching. They have prompted reader Peter Theaker to come forward with memories of a street party in York held to celebrate the coronation.
Not the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, however: this was a party to celebrate the coronation of her father, King George VI.
It was May, 1937 – 75 years ago. Mr Theaker, now 83, would then have been eight. He doesn’t remember a great deal about the party held in Garden Terrace, in The Groves, except that all the mothers, daughters and wives came together for a photograph on the grass outside. He still has the photographs taken that day – two of the fivepictures on these pages today.
What he does remember is that there was plenty of food that day – something which was unusual enough to have made an impression. “It was just after the Depression,” says Mr Theaker, who now lives in Beaverdyke.
All the children got presents that day, as well. He doesn’t remember what he was given. “But the parents bought little things to give to the kids.”
The party was held outside on the street. “There were tables, with bunting and flags. And there was a little field – we had games on there.” He didn’t really appreciate at the time why the party was being held, or what was so important about the day. “It was just fun for me. I didn’t know what was going on, really.”
As well as recounting his memories of the coronation of King George, Mr Theaker dug into his collection of family photographs to lend us the other photos on these pages today. One shows his grandmother, Mrs Mitchell, sitting outside the family home in Garden Terrace.
“You can tell there wasn’t a lot of money in the house,” he says. He doesn’t know the date, but the little girl on his grandmother’s knee is his cousin Winnie.
A nother photograph shows members of the extended Mitchell family preparing for a day trip. It was probably taken in the 1940s, Mr Theaker believes. The trips were organised by Dominic Martino, who was married to Mr Theaker’s mother’s sister.
“They used to organise day trips, the Martinos, to Scarborough or The Lakes, to have a day out.”
Our final photo shows Bill Fairless, landlord of The Castle Howard Ox on the corner of Townend Street. Mr Theaker’s mother, Nellie, is to the right of the pub landlord.
Again, there is no date, but Mr Theaker himself was just a “little lad” at the time the photo was taken, he says.
The pub had sawdust on the floor, he recalls – and spittoons for those who liked to chew tobacco. The landlord, Mr Fairless, was one of those. “I used to run errands for him,” Mr Theaker recalls.
“I used to go and get his tobacco. A lot of chaps like him used to chew tobacco and spit it out.”
Coronation party in Garden Terrace, with Peter Theaker’s home in the background.
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