Barking and Dagenham celebrations were our crowning glory

As Barking and Dagenham gears up for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Post looks back at landmark Royal festivities, including the 1953 coronation.

Dagenham had one of its most colourful days ever as the Ford factory put on fireworks that lasted almost an hour when the country celebrated the Queen’s accession to the throne.

Small and large-scale events were enjoyed in the town. A procession stretching for about a mile made its way through Wood Lane and was watched by an estimated 30,000 people.

The parade, comprising about 80 floats, was only the starter, almost a prelude to a carnival and fireworks display in Central Park.

It took place in the year after Elizabeth inherited the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, in his sleep.

Some Barking and Dagenham people watched the June 2 coronation on television and, according to Valence House museum in Dagenham, the organisers of a street party in Ripple Road had the equipment to project the ceremony for all to see.

Mum-of-two Janet Stanley, 67, recalled attending one of the street parties near her home in Boulton Road, Dagenham.

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Like many children she was given toys and souvenirs worth about ten shillings, such as brooches, combs, dolls and mugs, before tucking into a coronation feast.

She said: “I was a kid at school. All I was interested in was being in a party and enjoying myself.

Ice cream

“We all had these little brooches, like crowns with streamers on them.

“It was nice. We probably had jelly and ice cream.

“It was on all day but it rained towards the evening and that finished it.”

The Central Park carnival took place four days after the coronation, on June 6, according to Valence House.

The grand procession, featuring not only floats but also fancy dress and bands, started in two separate locations, St Chad’s Park and Old Dagenham Park, before heading to Wood Lane.

The party was the culmination of a week of events. Barking Arts Council put on a square dance in Barking Park, Longbridge Road, and a coronation ball at Park Modern Hall in Sandringham Road.

Mementoes from the coronation and the 1977 Jubilee have survived and are still kept at Valence House museum.

Researcher there, Stacey Matthews, said the souvenirs were mass produced so few have any value but they are seen as a significant part of history as they tell stories of the celebrations.

Mrs Stanley also recalled watching her two daughters, Sam and Wendy, in 1977 as they joined a Jubilee party in the street where she now lives, Kent Road, Dagenham.

She put up decorations outside her home and two flags in her window, which she still has in her attic.

She said: “We enjoyed ourselves. It was on all day. There was no rain.

“I don’t find anything wrong with the royal family. I’ll probably watch the celebrations on television.”

Ms Matthews added: “In this Diamond Jubilee year a plethora of merchandise is available at many different price ranges.

“It remains to be seen what, if any of it, will be deemed as collectable, valuable or of historical interest in the future.”