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Memories of royal visit to Halesowen in 1957

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 24, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Crowds in Priory Street, Dudley, waiting for the Queen on 23 April, 1957

  • The royal car drives past the crowds at Walter Somers Ltd., Halesowen

  • Winnie Siviter's picture of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as they passed in the royal car

  • St John Ambulance Brigade volunteers line the route by the Water Somers canteen

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IN OUR 27 February Edition we printed some photographs of the Queen's visit to Worcestershire and the Black Country on St George's Day, 1957.

As part of her itinerary that day the Queen visited Halesowen and among the crowds lining her route was a young David Eades and he has supplied us with further pictures of that momentous day.

David writes, "April 23, 1957, was a very special day in the life of Halesowen, when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the town. Maybe it's hard for young people today to envisage how special it was, but in those days far fewer people had a television and the majority only saw pictures of the Queen either in the newspapers or at the cinema. To actually see her in the flesh was very special – she was young and attractive too!

"The route of the Queen's visit from the borough boundary at Hayley Green was decorated in red, white and blue colours. Shopkeepers and residents had made an extra special effort to decorate their premises, and the old public library and council chamber building in Hagley Street was highly decorated, saying Halesowen welcomes Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

"Prior to the visit I was told that the councillors met to rehearse certain procedures, one of which was to teach the ladies how to curtsy.

"I enclose a photograph of the royal couple taken by my aunt, Winnie Siviter, at Uffmoor.

"The Queen and the Duke signed the borough's official visitors' book and photographs of themselves. These photographs were framed and were placed on the wall behind where the mayor sat in the council chamber. I wonder if they still exist.

"At the time I was a cadet in the Halesowen division of the St John Ambulance Brigade, and we were given the privileged position of standing in front of the crowd within the Somers factory compound at Halesowen, in front of the canteen. I still have my pink ticket which gave us access to the compound, but just cannot lay my hands on it.

"The royal car left the works along this route and we had to stand back in order for it to pass. After the royal couple had left we were allowed into the factory to see what they had seen."

The Queen and the Duke had a full day. They arrived by the royal train at Hagley at 10am and from there drove to the Walter Somers forge in Halesowen. After their tour of the works they went to Oldbury where they met local civic and industry leaders.

They then made a brief halt at Rowley Regis to meet the chairman and councillors of the UDC. Their next stop was at Dudley council house for lunch and from there the royal party went to the Stevens and Williams glassworks in Brierley Hill, where they met the chairman of the UDC and had a 40-minute tour of the works. Later that afternoon the Queen and the Duke inspected the collection of historic glass at Stourbridge council house and then they were entertained to tea by the mayor and council of Kidderminster, at the town hall, where they were also presented with a carpet.

The Queen and the Duke then travelled by train to Worcester and an engagement with 400 guests of the city at the Guildhall, before departing at 10.30pm.

Please share you pictures and memories of the royal visit. Contact dshaw@blackcountry bugle.co.uk or write to our address on page 2.

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