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Exeter Stories

Exeter folk and friends in their own words - 1890's to the 1990's │ << Previous story │ Next story >>  │

Pam Salzman - watching the Coronation on TV in 1953


Well, here goes....

I have so many memories of a childhood spent in Exeter in the post war 50’s and early 60’s, most of them good but a few sad ones along the way.

The earliest memory of any significance was the Coronation.  I was very young but remember being in school St Wifrids at the time was down at the end of The Mint at the top of Fore Street. I was given a mug, a sixpence and a bar of chocolate (unfortunately both long gone) including the chocolate I can’t ever remember that getting as far as home!

There was always a lot of coming and going at our house, I lived in the big house on the corner of Church Road and Cowick Road  (now turned into 5 or 6 flats) Gran always got 2 of everything that was put through the letter boxes (a lot of free samples of household cleaners and such) having one door in one street and one in another!! But I digress….

Granddad had bought a telly ….. I think it arrived a couple of days before the big day, it was a big gothic looking thing with the tiniest screen, I suppose today it would be the equivalent size screen to a portable DVD player, but back then it was state of the art. Nobody else in the street had one.

The day of the party was magical – so many people, all dressed up in their Sunday best, bunting crossing the street from window to window, union jacks, paper hats, and tables right down the middle of Cowick Road – I can’t remember but I’m sure they stretched all the way down from Fairfield Terrace. There was so much food, sandwiches, orange juice, cake and real oranges and bananas, where did it all come from?  Everyone contributed. My uncle and his friend Ivan going over to the Prince Albert and bringing back jugs and jugs of brown ale.  

Gran had made my brother and I fancy dress, I was a Lavender Girl and he was Noddy (all done out of Crepe Paper!!!!  Why the exclamation marks I hear you say, it will all become clear soon.

Everyone was coming in taking in turns to watch some bit of the days happenings on the television, the room was in darkness, the curtains had to be drawn otherwise you weren’t able to see the screen, my Gran Chamberlain didn’t move all day from her rocking chair in the corner, a few of us kids came in and sat cross legged at the front of the telly, but got really bored with the whole thing and went back outside to play.  

It rained at some point and yes, you’ve guessed I got wet – not only wet but the crepe paper disintegrated, leaving me in a virtual state of undress, I should have had counselling!

Later on there was music and dancing but where the music came from I don’t remember.  I just remember it was a day I will never forget.

© 2007 Pam Salzman

Richard Dimbleby, the father of David and Jonathan Dimbleby commentated on the Coronation for the BBC broadcast in 1953 - seven years later he visited St Thomas - see Panorama in St Thomas

Church RoadThe house on the corner of Church Road and Cowick Road. The Prince AlbertThe Prince Albert in the 1960's.

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