The recent extended Bank Holiday weekend marked the official celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Alongside Bridport Town Crier John Collingwood, I have had the honour of carrying out some of the formal acts of celebration plus visiting numerous other ‘street party’ and picnic events:
On Thursday 2 June at 2.00pm, at Bucky Doo, John read out the official Platinum Jubilee Proclamation which was written by Jane L. Smith, Bognor Regis Town Crier.
Following the reading of the Proclamation, I made a short speech in support after which The Skatalans continued to really entertain the crowd with their wonderful mix of Ska and Latin beats.
The Jubilee Beacon
On the evening of Thursday 2 June at 9.45 precisely, the Platinum Jubilee Beacon on Coneygar Hill was lit.
The lighting of Jubilee Beacons provided an opportunity for communities and people throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth to come together to celebrate this historic milestone.
There is a long tradition of celebrating Royal Jubilees, Weddings and Coronations with the lighting of beacons. A beacon chain, once used as a tool for communication, has now become a symbol of unity across towns, borders, countries and continents and is often the central point of focus for any outdoor gathering or celebration. In 1897, beacons were lit to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1977, 2002 and 2012, beacons commemorated the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees of The Queen, and in 2016 Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
All of the Beacons throughout the United Kingdom (including the Coneygar Hill Beacon), Channel Islands and Isle of Man were lit at 9.45pm. In addition the Beacons in the Commonwealth Countries & United Kingdom Overseas Territories were lit at 9.15pm local time, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Anchor Chain was lit at 9.30pm and the Beacons along Hadrian’s Wall were lit at 10pm. Click HERE to see the location of Beacons being lit across the UK and the rest of the world.
Once again, John and I led the formalities supported by a Bugler, the New Elizabethan Singers and members of the Town Council grounds staff who prepared the beacon and ensured it was safely doused before the site was vacated. The images below give a flavour of the event. The Thorncombe Beacon can be seen flickering in the distance, in the bottom left photograph.
The Civic Service
On Friday 3 June at 11.00am a Platinum Jubilee Civic Service was held in St Mary’s Church, South Street led by the Bridport Team Ministry’s Rev’s Deb Smith, Pete Stone and Janice Moore and supported by the Town Council.
At the same time A National Service of Thanksgiving to Celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen was being held in St Paul’s Cathedral and at churches across the country. All of the Services included bible readings, anthems, prayers and congregational hymns, expressing thankfulness for The Queen’s reign, faith and service; desire to foster unity and peace amongst all peoples; and commitment to care for God’s creation.
At St Mary’s the congregation were in fine voice and listened attentively to the thoughtful readings. The service was followed by light refreshments and a selection of appropriately decorated cakes.
Jubilee Picnic on Millenium Green
On Sunday afternoon despite the drizzle a hardy crowd gathered to picnic and be entertained by some splendid local musicians including Councillor Dave Rickard the Boogie Man and Rough Assembly. Millenium Green was looking splendid decked in bunting which had been installed earlier in the day by volunteers supported by Town Council staff.
When I popped in, the early arrivals had staked sites under the trees and were protected from the rain. Picnic tables and blankets laden with food and a range of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages were the order of the day. Queen Elizabeth herself surprised everyone present by popping in, though what she made of my attempt at royal chit chat I dread to think. As the afternoon wore on the rain stopped, the sun came out and the crowd steadily grew and a good time was had by all.
Other Celebratory Events
Over the four days on Jubilee celebrations I was invited to attend a number of local street parties and picnics. It was fantastic to be able to drop in, say hello, see so many people enjoying themselves and sample some of the wonderful cakes people had made – I now need to go on a diet!
A particularly highlight was joining the Jubilee Celebration at St James’ Park Care Home. When I arrived the residents were being entertained by members of staff including one dressed as Queen Elizabeth II who led an enthusiastic singalong. I was asked to unveil a commemorative artwork which residents had worked together to produce and took it round the room to enable those with limited mobility to view it close up. Chatting to some of the residents, I learned that many were in their 90s and could not only remember the Queen’s Coronation but also her father King George VI. As I left the celebration was getting into full swing whilst a classic afternoon tea was being laid out by members of staff.
Bridport Dresses Up for the Queens Platinum Jubilee
Bridport’s residents and shopkeeprs have made a fantastic effort to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee with some really creative window displays and strings of bunting.
A particular highlight is the Town Hall clock face the transformation of which was carried out by Paul Violet ‘keeper’ of the Town Hall clock and his daughter Rebekah. He has dedicated his work on the clock to his late father Ray, who died recently and loved the Royal Family.
Paul is also a member of the Bridport Heritage Forum, and to add to the celebrations, he and other members of the forum – Andy Violet, Fiona Ward and Tracey Dunford-Violet – dressed the windows of the TIC with 1950s artefacts, photographs and clothes, which will bring back memories for many Bridport people, and visitors to the town, who “were there” when the ‘New Elizabethan’ era began.
The photographs below provide a snapshot of the effort shopkeepers across the town have made to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee.
The Platinum Jubilee celebrations are behind us now and what are we to make of it all? For some it was an event they wish never happened and that the royal family are an anachronism that should have been abolished many years ago. For others it was an opportunity to celebrate the 70 year reign of Queen Elizabeth II and give thanks for her devotion to public service. And for some it was simply an opportunity to enjoy an extended Bank Holiday weekend with family and friends and simply enjoy themselves.
Apart from the events I was personally involved in locally over the Jubilee weekend the one moment which stood our was seeing the Queen having tea with Paddington Bear. We just happened to switch on the TV at the right moment and the expression on all our faces, especially my young granddaughters was one of shock and pure joy. Priceless.
Bridport Museum Celebrates 90 Years
It was 90 years ago, on May 28 1932, that the Bridport Museum first opened its doors to the public. The following words are taken from the Bridport Museum website
The Bridport Museum and Art Gallery was founded in 1932 in one of the town’s oldest buildings, known as the Old Castle. This was an innovative step for a small industrial town in rural West Dorset. Many much larger places did not have a civic art gallery or Museum in the 1930s.
Bridport’s good fortune was based upon what the Bridport News called ‘Mr Codd’s munificent gift’ of the building and a collection of his own work together with the civic pride of the council who were willing to fund the conversion of what had been the Conservative Club into a gallery and museum space.
On that Saturday afternoon in May 1932, a large group of Bridport’s great and the good gathered for the official opening; to hear the speeches, to see some of the donors and to explore the new gallery and museum. The ceremony took place in the main room on the ground floor which had been set out to house the museum and which already contained ‘many objects of interest to not only the archaeologically minded but to the laymen in general’. Later that day the art gallery and museum was opened up for free to the public, although not to children. From then on, admission was charged to adults and to accompanied children.
90 years on and the very same space was the site for the 90th Birthday celebration. Chair of the Museum Trustees, Karen Hunt opened the proceedings by welcoming those present and giving a brief history of the museum and the part a certain Captain Cod played in making it possible. I then made a brief speech thanking the Trustees, Staff and Volunteers for all they do in making the Bridport Museum a must-see place to visit before leading the singing of Happy Birthday and cutting the cake.
The formalities were brought to a close by Jane Silver-Corren who wrote and sang the Bridport Rope Making song with those present joining in the chorus.
Rope Making in Bridport
For a thousand years they have spun the rope
To bind and haul and trawl
For the fisherman’s nets, for the hangman’s noose
Yes, Bridport made them all
1 The flax and hemp grown in our fields
Was retted, scaled and bolled
Then scruting, swingling, hackling
O how the workers toiled
2 King John he ordered rope for ships
And half our town employed
And hundreds more west Dorset folk
Were gainfully occupied
3 The navy then we did equip with rope for life at sea
Then many years later came the Bridport Dagger
Twas greatly feared by so many
4 Then into the mills where ropes and nets were then produced en mass
And it’s carried on through to the present day
Less manpower for more cash!
5 So we look down our familiar streets
Where folk once twined and wove
The ropes and nets we still used now
Made in gardens and lanes we all know and love
Whilst there, George Streatfield, former Dorset High Sheriff and ex Chair of the Museum Trustees, and I, after a bit of head scratching, managed to repair the wonderful rope making demonstration kit.
Today the Bridport Museum is a modern brightly lit space full of fascinating exhibits thanks to the recent Heritage Lottery funded transformation. Rather than have me attempt to describe all it has to offer why not make the Bridport Museum a regular ‘pop into’ place whenever you are in town? You will not be disappointed.
Bridport Big Band Jubilee Concert
Until recently I had only heard of the existence of the Bridport Big Band but had never heard them in concert. The Bridport Big Band Platinum Jubilee concert organised by Bridport Rotary and held in the United Reform Church, East Street was an absolute joy and I walked away with a huge smile on my face and the tunes playing in my head.
There is as we all know a huge amount of creative talent here in Bridport and the Bridport Big Band is one manifestation of that. The words I said to thank those involved at the end of the concert go a small way towards summing how good the evening was.
“Wow, how good was that? I am blown away by how good that was. We have been thoroughly entertained by the Bridport Big Band. Another round of applause to show how much we have enjoyed this evening and how in awe we are at the quality of the musicianship.
Anyone who has had the misfortune of listening to me speak or has read my recent Blogs in recent weeks will be aware that a recurring theme has been Community.
In this room this evening we have several communities:
The Bridport Big Band is a community whose love of music and instrumental prowess brings them together to produce something which is wonderfully uplifting when they are performing together.
The Bridport Rotary Club members are a community who are united in their endeavours to be of support.
You the audience are a community united by your love of music and wish to be of support.
It is all of these little communities than make Bridport such a dynamic, supportive and wonderful community to live, work and play in.“
Thank you the Bridport Rotary Club for putting this evening together; thank you the Bridport Big Band for entertaining us so wonderfully and finally thank you the audience for coming this evening.”
If you get the chance to see the Bridport Big Band perform, snap up a ticket immediately.
Where are you going to spend your Totally Locally ‘Magic Tenner’ in support of local businesses this week?
Click HERE to find out more.
My thanks to Will Austin, Lottie Welch, Anne Bark and Eleanor Bark for the images used in this Blog.