The year after the Coronation, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked on a tour of Britain, previously they had been on a very successful tour of The Commonwealth, which had taken them away for six months.  I can remember feeling sorry for Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who did not see there parents, until they were re-united with them in Malta, on the return journey.

I can remember going to school one particular day, early in 1954 when someone asked me if I had heard the news.  I was puzzled by this, but when I was told that the The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were coming to Barnsley, I was so excited, I could not concentrate for the rest of the day.  The only thing in my mind was, would my mum allow me to take a day from school so that I could see them.?  I needn’t have worried, that day (I think it was the 28th October 1954) was to be a school holiday.

All the children in the town, were going to see The Queen.  I couldn’t believe it, The Queen was actually coming to Barnsley, and I would be seeing her.  The time dragged so slowly, it must have been about three months from our knowing and the actual visit, I thought the day would never come. 

However, as always, the day did arrive, the day before, we had been given strict instructions, that we must wear our school berets, blazers, uniforms to be sponged and pressed and last but not least, clean socks and well polished shoes. I for one didn’t need to be told, my mum always made sure that I was well turned out for school, but I can remember polishing my shoes with such enthusiasm, that my dad said, if I wasn’t careful I would finish up in the Army.  (Perish the thought).

We all met up at Barnsley Girls’ High School, being there for 8.30 a.m. no problems getting there a quarter of an hour early, I would have been there at 4.00am, if necessary.

The order of progress was the little ones first, the first forms, and then upwards to the fifth forms, which was my year.  We had a tartar of a teacher, called Miss W. we were all terrified of her, she was so strict, thinking about it, maybe she should have polished her shoes and joined the army. Honestly, we looked like Guards on Parade, by the way we had to stand, we had an inspection, and then we were off, marching down Huddersfield Road, two abreast, in double quick time.  We must have looked hilarious, I do believe that we were carried away into thinking that we were indeed, the Queen’s guards.

We arrived at our allotted place, which was at the top of Regent Street, this was an excellent viewpoint, because we could see the front of the Town Hall and the canopy and stage which had been erected to receive the royal visitors.  As the time of arrival drew near, we were hopping about impatiently, suddenly we heard clapping and cheering, which grew nearer and nearer.  The first person I saw in front of the royal procession was the Town Clerk, Adam Eric Gilfillan, looking very distinguished, in his court attire, he looked so severe in his wig, I could imagine that he was about to put “the black cap” over it, and sentence someone to the death penalty.  The next in line was the mace bearer, who accompanies the Mayor of Barnsley on all ceremonial occasions, behind him I could see the scarlet robes and the black tricorn hat of the Mayor of Barnsley, who at that time was Alderman McVie, by his side was this tiny little figure, dressed in green velvet, with hat to match, this was the Queen.

Bringing up the rear, was The Duke of Edinburgh, who was escorting the Mayoress, of Barnsley, Mrs McVie, we went wild with excitement.

The crowd behind surged forward and much to my horror I lost one of my shoes, I had no hope of retrieving it amongst the throng of people, then much to my relief, I saw one of the girls from school holding up my shoe; I sent a few prayers up in relief, I would have been very unpopular if I had returned home minus my shoe.

Despite this, it was a wonderful day, and I shall never forget it.

                                   music ~ "Three Times a Lady"




I remember these words as clearly as if they had been said to me yesterday, it was a very cold day in February 1944 and I was four and a half years old.  I had started St. Mary’s Church Infant School when I was just four years old, and my class teacher was called Miss Saville.

There was an air of mystery that particular morning, as young as I was I could sense that something was afoot.  All the children in my class were bundled into our coats and our hankies were pinned to them, instead of our jumpers.  We formed a “crocodile” and were marched on Church Lane, where I lived in the tiny cottage, when I saw my mum approaching.

She was puzzled as to why we were marching along so purposefully, and she asked where we were being taken; in a hushed voice, Miss Saville told her that we were going to wave at the King and Queen (our present Queen’s parents).  Naturally my mum joined us and we were brought to an abrupt stop, when we reached the top of Old Mill Lane, Barnsley, which was a short distance away from our school. We were mustered together, with instructions to unpin our hankies from our coats, in readiness to wave to the King and Queen.  I was beside myself with excitement, I full expected to see a coach, carrying our Sovereign and his Consort, fully regaled in the Crown Jewels, the coach being pulled by white horses.

I think that I had got my wires crossed with Cinderella and her coach, what a disappointment when this big black car approached, at least it was being driven at a snail’s pace.  Miss Saville  (who would have been a role model for Joyce Grenfell), clapped her hands together, uttering the immortal words, “come children, wave and cheer”, naturally we did as we were told, no one crossed swords with Miss Saville, not even my dad whom she had taught years previously.

I can still picture The King, wearing a uniform and a peaked officer’s cap, and The Queen was dressed in a beautiful shade of blue, they graciously gave us the royal wave, and we cheered and waved back to them.  It was years later, when I started work at Barnsley Town Hall, I wandered into the Mayor’s parlour and saw a photograph of The King and Queen, taking their leave of the town’s dignitaries, that I realised that was the day we had stood and waved to them.  At four and half years old, I became a Royalist, and I devoured as much news as I could about our Royal Family, from that day on.

This photograph was taken on the day that King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth (later to be the Queen Mother) came to Barnsley in 1944.  This photograph was taken on the Town Hall steps.

The next important day in my life as far as my devotion to The Royal Family was concerned, was the wedding of our present Queen and Prince Philip, in November 1947, she was still Princess Elizabeth and her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten had been announced a few months earlier.  To side track a little, it is well documented that Princess Elizabeth had formed a strong attachment to him, when she was only thirteen years old.  Philip was five years older.  She was visiting the Royal College at Dartmouth in Devon, and he had been given the task of entertaining the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.  The King and Queen were quite alarmed by this attachment, and as a result they insisted that Princess Elizabeth, together with Princess Margaret, accompanied them on a tour of South Africa.  It was suspected that the King secretly hoped that she would have “gone off” Philip by the time they returned home, not a bit of it, the King gave in gracefully and their engagement was announced in the summer of 1947.

All the children in Britain, were given a day’s holiday from school, to celebrate this occasion, and I can remember sitting glued to the wireless listening to every word of the commentator, and to the young couple making their marriage vows.  All my friends thought that I was daft, for not playing outside, and making the most of this bonus holiday, but I didn’t care, and it was once again with great excitement that my mum took me to The Savoy Cinema in Lundwood to see a film of The Royal Wedding, in colour.

On the 12th November, 1981 Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited Chesterfield, I went with my mum to see them, I took this photo of Diana.

 Her photographs never did her justice.