On July 28, 1949, a young Princess Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited York at the end of a triumphant Royal Tour of Yorkshire.

The three-day tour had taken in a number of Yorkshire towns and cities, and included a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show – the first to have been held since 1939 – at Wakefield.

On the last day of the tour, the Royal couple arrived at the Minster at 11.30am, where they were met by the Lord Lieutenant of York, the Earl of Scarborough, and were presented to the Lord Mayor, JB Morrell. After inspecting a guard of honour and looking around the Minster, the princess and her husband went to St William’s College, then walked through Minster Gates and Stonegate to St Helen’s Square.

After meeting dignitaries at the Mansion House, the young princess was driven to Regent Street, off Lawrence Street, to visit some pre-fabricated houses.

The residents had been preparing to welcome the Royal couple for several days, reported the following day’s Yorkshire Herald. “Houses had been cleaned from top to bottom, just in case the Princess and her husband ‘dropped in’.” They did exactly that, visiting a Mr and Mrs Frank Henry Cox at no 15.

The royal couple then visited the Carr estate, where they called on three families. At Jute Road, they met a Mr and Mrs John Radford, and their three children; at Ostman Road they called on Mr and Mrs Leonard Ernest Turner; and at Danebury Drive they popped in to see Mr and Mrs Edward Leslie Mardell.

The Princess was shown around the Radfords’ three-bedroomed home by Mr Radford, the Herald reported.

He later informed the newspaper that she “had shown great interest in the bathroom and detached washhouse”.

Seeing the princess

AMONG the many royal supporters who turned out to watch Princess Elizabeth when she visited York that day in 1949 was a young girl from Hull Road, Mary Robinson.

She was ten at the time when she stood amongst the crowds on Regent Street watching the princess visit some pre-fabricated houses.

Today, that young girl is 73-year-old Mary Broadhead – who, with her husband Terry, ran the Crystal Palace pub in Holgate Road for 24 years.

She remembers the young Princess Elizabeth on that long-ago day looking like a ‘pretty young girl’ in a summer dress. “I remember thinking how nice it was to have a princess come to York,” she says.

“I was at the Lawrence Street end of Regent Street. There were quite a few people around, but I had a good view. She got out of her car, and I saw her clearly. Somebody gave us some flags, and we were waving them.”

The young Mary remembers being struck by the contrast between the palace the princess lived in, and the prefabricated houses she was visiting. “It must have seemed like a doll’s house to her.”

Years later, Mary saw the Queen again, when she came to hand out Maundy money at York Minster in 1972. “That was an occasion.”

She admits she’s been a lifelong fan of the Queen. “She’s done an excellent job – and she’s still doing an excellent job. I hope she’ll be there for many years yet.”