Here finally is the last of the series of articles from the Herald; about the coronation of King George VI in 1937. Who knows,we might even be within living memory here of a few of our veteran members.
There are some pictures already on 3T showing the street party in Herald Street; the paper certainly didn't have to travel far to report on that event: http://www.threetowners.com/images/Herald_St.jpg http://www.threetowners.com/images/Coronation1937_1.JPG
And there are some contemporary reports with a few extra details of the events in all three towns at this link: www.threetowners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=78054#p78054
Jim Mollison, the famous aviator mentioned in the article as delivering the film of the Coronation to the cinema, is probably best known as the husband of the even more famous Amy Johnson. Wonder where he landed his plane ?
TEAS IN THE STREETS
The silver jubilee of the king and queen in 1935 had given a timely excuse for jollity and hope, midway through a decade that was proving depressing in almost every aspect, and in the following couple of years another royal event — a coronation —proved even more of an antidote to a steadily worsening situation nationally and internationally.
King George V survived his jubilee by only eight months, dying peacefully in January 1936. There was sorrow at his death: he had been a good enough monarch, and there was a general feeling of hope for the future in that his successor was the person most widely known, publicised and probably liked, throughout the kingdom — the Prince of Wales. On his accession he took the title Edward VIII, and his coronation was arranged for May 1937.
The arrangements were duly carried out — although it was a different king who was crowned. When Edward VIII preferred to abdicate rather than forego marriage to Mrs Wallis Simpson, the older people sensed that, along with wars and rumours of wars from Europe, unemployment and general depression, the whole structure of the empire was tottering; so the coronation of George VI was celebrated with an enthusiasm which had undertones of desperation — and which now, particularly in local events, can almost be recognised as a demonstration by a community of its determined cohesion — destined to be put to the test a couple of years later.
The coronation on Wednesday, May 12, 1937, was noteworthy in Ardrossan and Saltcoats for one particular feature — the arrangements made by residents of individual streets to celebrate it, outwith the usual processions, sermons and speeches of the civic authorities.
As usual on national occasions, houses, shops and public buildings were lavishly decorated — and one especial house's tableau, which some readers may recall, was a set piece of dolls representing their majesties in accurate robes, displayed outside a house in Windmill Street, Saltcoats.
At school on the previous day the children had been presented with a souvenir medal (these cost the town councils £15 per thousand), a coronation mug; the girls a jelly-spoon and the boys a knife.
Sports for the schoolchildren were held at Campbell Park, Saltcoats, and South Beach Green, Ardrossan, with buns and milk being freely distributed, and the old people of the towns were entertained to tea and concerts.
But it was in what the paper's reports of the time described somewhat patronisingly as "the working-class streets" that the main interest lay.
The residents of those streets — who were in all honesty not very well off — combined together for some months previously to save what they could afford, and on the afternoon of coronation day they erected tables in the middle of the streets and the children and old people especially were treated to lavish tea parties.Fortunately it was a beautiful day.
At each of these "street teas," especially in Ardrossan, opening ceremonies were held, when at the invitation of the organising residents, the provost and magistrates officially entered through decorated arches at the ends of the streets, and expressed good wishes to all.
Old photographs show the sunlit, flag-bedecked aspects of such streets as Kilmahew Street and Herald Street, Ardrossan, where the normally gloomy looking tenements were a background to happy neighbours dressed in their best clothes, enjoying tea and cakes at laden tables in the middle of the road.
Following the teas, informal galas were held in the streets in which the older folk joined. Sports, community singing, dancing and games were promoted, and a jolly time was had by all.
The Lyric Cinema, Ardrossan, pulled off something of a coup, by showing a brief film of the coronation ceremony in London on the evening of the same day. The film was flown from London by Jim Mollison, the famous aviator, and rushed by car to the cinema.
There was a coronation regatta at SaItcoats model yachting pond, coronation schools football tournament, and a coronation treat to children of Lochranza, Arran, who were brought to Ardrossan and taken to the cinema for the first time in most of their lives.
In the evening of coronation day there were bonfires on Saltcoats Braes and Ardrossan Castle Hill — the last to be seen for eight troublous years.