On the afternoon 6th February 1952 the carefree world of a young woman was changed forever when she was given the news by her husband, Prince Philip, that her father, King George VI has died and that she was now Queen. She had been staying at the Treetops Lodge in Aberdare National Park in Nyeri, Kenya.
As a protest against the shoot-on-sight orders, and repeated military action, Mau Mau rebels burnt down the Treetops Hotel (which acted as a lookout for the King’s African Rifles) on 27 May 1954 in a contentious military action or act of terror. The lodge was rebuilt and the Queen stayed there again in 1958 and 1983.
When my family stayed there in 1998 my wife and I hit the jackpot when allocated the Princess Elizabeth suite, the room the Queen stayed in and the only room at the lodge with an ensuite bathroom together with a private game viewing balcony. A photo of the Queen and Prince Philip, is displayed above the bed in the suite to this day.
On Sunday 6th February 2022, seventy years on, Queen Elizabeth II became the first monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. She has been the one constant throughout my life, I was born 13 months after she came to the throne. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister at the start of her reign and she has held a weekly meeting with a further 13 to date. A list of the people she has met during her reign includes virtually every world leader, musicians, stars of stage and screen, sports men and women, scientists, inventors and people from the business world, not to mention the numerous ordinary folk on whom she has bestowed honours or simply shook hands with. I wonder how many hands her gloved hand has shook over the past 70 years?
How the world has changed during those 70 years. At the beginning of her reign we saw the world in black and white, the age of the horse was coming an end, rationing was still in place, homosexuality was illegal and teenagers had yet emerge. Move forward to the digital world we live in today where instant communication, in colour, anywhere in the world is the norm; homes have central heating and the range of foods available in our supermarkets is mind-blowing. The second Elizabethan age has been one of incredible social and technological change.
How has Bridport celebrated significant royal events in the past? How was the Queen’s coronation, silver, gold and diamond jubilees celebrated? I have found very little photographic evidence of how we as a town have celebrated these events. The images below give a flavour of what we has happened in the past.
Who is the young lady presenting Princess Margaret with a bouquet? Does she still live in Bridport? Do you have any images lurking in family albums of celebrations of significant royal occasions that that have taken place in Bridport. If you do, I would love to see them and perhaps put them all together in a display somewhere in the town.
Only three weeks after the Queen Coronation in 1953 Princess Margaret came to Bridport and she witnessed a pageant celebrating 700 years since the Royal Charter was granted which involved 1300 performers, 28 horses and 2 donkeys. Can you imagine putting on something on that scale today?
Click here to watch a film of this amazing spectacle.
In 2022 a small number of formal events to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee are already scheduled to take place in Bridport as follows:
Thursday 2 June (see this online guide to the events):
- 2.00pm – Proclamation by Mayor and Town Crier, Bucky Doo Square
- 9.45pm – Jubilee Beacon, Coneygar Hill.
Friday 3 June:
- 11.00am – Civic Service at St Mary’s (provided by Bridport Team Ministry).
Sunday 5 June:
- 12.00pm-3.00pm – Jubilee Picnic Lunch – BYO, Mountfield Lawn. Organised by Friends of Millennium Green.
Over recent weeks I have had a range of ideas put to me as to how Bridport should or should not celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee including:
- A mass street party down the length of South Street with live music on Bucky Doo Square.
- A traffic free Saturday in the Town Centre with music and dancing.
- Producing a commemorative Bridport mug and giving every child born this year one.
- Flags and bunting in the streets.
- A music festival on Millenium Green or Askers Meadow.
- Planning their own street party or event. Check here first in order to avoid falling foul of the law and it is a lot more complicated than you might imagine.
- Plant a commemorative oak tree or better still a forest.
- Restore the Coronation Bridge
- Install a wind turbine on Colmers Hill
Or the Republican alternative
- Ignore it all together.
How are you planning on engaging with the Queens Platinum Jubilee? I would love to hear what you are planning on doing or not doing as the case may be, email me with your plans at email@example.com
Last Thursday evening my wife and I, plus several other Town Councillors, were part of the audience at the Electric Palace to see the Bridport Pantomime Players performance of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. What a great evening’s entertainment! It was a really polished show with some outstanding singing and dancing performances. All was going swimmingly until my wife and I found the spotlight turned on us for a rendition of ‘One smart man and he felt smart …’. Needless to say I fluffed my words!
The images below give a flavour of the show but you had to be there to appreciate it. Make sure you go to next year’s pantomime, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
CHRISTMAS WINDOW WINNERS
On Friday morning I had the pleasure of presenting the award for the best Festive Shop Window award to Fiona Taylor from Malabar Trading. The competition was fiercer than ever this year but the public decided that Malabar window was their favourite. Congratulations Malabar and I look forward to seeing your 2022 Festive window.
PLASTIC FREE AWARDS
Later on Friday I had the pleasure of handing out certificates and plaques to four Bridport businesses that have met the exacting standards required to achieve plastic frees status. Bridport Antiques and Bridport Antiques Centre were the first two to receive their award.
Then it was off to Hive Beach to hand out Plastic free Business Awards to Hive Beach. The Clubhouse Operational Manager Andrew Hartley, and Executive Chef, Lewis Ford were on hand to receive the awards and tell me about another exciting development in their plastic free journey.
In addition to handing out the awards, I was there to launch a new range of biodegradable takeaway packaging based on seaweed. To find out more about it CLICK.
I was even more amazed by the packaging the tomato sauce was presented in. The little clear sachet is not only biodegradable it is also edible so instead of dumping mine in the litter bin after my meal where it would in all probability either end up in landfill or be incinerated, I ate mine. It didn’t really taste of anything and was a bit rubbery but as I said to Andrew ‘I have eaten much stranger looking and tasting things in Japan’.
To mark the launch the beachfront café was giving away 20 of its new takeaway packaging on Friday, filled with fish and chips – and a hungry queue started gathering at the takeaway window just before 12noon.
A SERVICE FOR JACK AND KATHERINE
There was huge shock and sadness felt in our community following the loss of two young people, Jack Williams and Katherine (Katie) Powell, in the most tragic of circumstances. On Sunday 6 February Holy Trinity Church, Bothenhampton opened its doors to those who wished to gather in lament, to pray and come together in our confusion and pain.
A reflective service led by Revd Deb Smith supported by Philip Ringer and Helen Croud and attended by members of Katherine’s family and relayed virtually to members of Jack’s family was held. A full church congregation, with people from across Bridport in attendance, lit candles, prayed, sang and quietly took stock of the full magnitude of what has happened and the impact it has had of two grieving families.
My own contribution was the following reading:
As we hear these words today, for Milk Wood, that imaginary community in the play, we can think of this our real community, and of how these words might be true for us today.
Every morning when I wake,
Dear Lord, a little prayer I make,
O please do keep Thy lovely eye
On all poor creatures born to die
And every evening at sun-down
I ask a blessing on the town,
For whether we last the night or no
I’m sure is always touch-and-go.
We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.
O let us see another day!
Bless us all this night, I pray,
And to the sun we all will bow
And say, good-bye – but just for now!
Following the service I spoke briefly to Katherine’s parents who expressed their thanks for the way in which people in Bridport had been so supportive, and that attending the service had been a great comfort to them.
Have you bought your tickets for the Mayors Charity Concert ‘ Bride Valley and Beyond’ yet?
Bridport Arts Centre Presents
In support of: THE MAYORS CHARITIES 2022
BRIDE VALLEY AND BEYOND
An evening of music, songs and readings in celebration of the landscape, history, and life in the West Dorset coastal area.
Saturday 5th March
7.30 – 10.00
Doors open @ 6.30pm
Click here to book online or call 01308 424901