The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on South Tyneside
How will you remember it?
I have some pretty vague memories of the Queen’s visits to South Shields, way back in the 1960s I stood with my classmates from Barnes Road Junior School along with a clutch of parents and teachers as we waved our little flags watching the Queen and Prince Philip opening the Marine and Technical College in St. George’s Avenue. I think it was my earliest recollection of what our monarch looked like, later in life I had a similar vague encounter at Gypsies Green Stadium in 1977 when she visited as part of her Silver Jubilee tour, I cannot quite remember how I blagged my way into that event, something to do with someone who I knew in the Conservative party no doubt. It was the highlight of the day and after several pints in the Vigilant she was hailed as the talk of the town. Somehow a few of us managed to get down to the North Marine Park to witness our beacon being lit. Strangely I recall nothing at all of the day we celebrated the Golden Jubilee ten years ago, if indeed we did.
Yesterday was more of a family event almost in an Australian style as we joined the in laws for a “Royal Garden Party” barbecue and a few “tinnies” in the sun, the children found the pageant along the River Thames very interesting and it was quite fascinating to watch their faces as the afternoon unfolded on one of today’s gigantic flat screen TVs, and today we will hopefully join hundreds of other South Shields and South Tyneside folks sitting in the South Marine Park watching a giant screen and enjoying this evening’s concert in London before moving up the hill to see one of the beacons being lit. I must congratulate and thank South Tyneside Council for staging this event and the little afternoon tea dance in the park yesterday, it would have been wonderful if the 1977 visit could have been beamed back to a giant screen in the park if only they’d had today’s technology available then.
I’m hoping to photograph the beacon being lit in the Arbeia Roman Fort with the reconstructed west gate as a backdrop, I just hope this new beacon is in a good location, don’t fancy showing South Shields to the world with a collection of “Coronation Street” back yards as a backdrop.
I like these occasions, they help create unity and spread a little joy, they transcend the politics of the day, and bring people together. Queen Elizabeth has helped to modernise the monarchy and make the institution that little bit more accessible, she stands as a symbol of stability stretching over sixty years, she has also managed to transform our thinking about the old Germanic values of her ancestors and portray a family that seems to have endured some of the same marital and economic problems of many others. As the years of economic parsimony have passed through her reign she has adapted the Royal household to meet the needs of Parliament and the British economy without severing that thin golden thread that stitches the tapestry of this island’s history.
Personally I’m now looking forward to the Platinum Jubilee in ten years time!
How have you celebrated the Jubilee weekend readers? What will your memories be?