A tale of two celebrations

Coverage of the Queen’s coronation dominated the front and inside pages of the QT on Wednesday, June 3, 1953. The paper reported that a ‘spontaneous enthusiasm’ gripped locals.
Coverage of the Queen’s coronation dominated the front and inside pages of the QT on Wednesday, June 3, 1953. The paper reported that a ‘spontaneous enthusiasm’ gripped locals. File

QUEEN Elizabeth's diamond jubilee celebrations stopped the United Kingdom this week as the nation paused to acknowledge their appreciation of Her Majesty's leadership over her 60 year reign.

Thousands of well-wishers lined the banks of the Thames for a procession of water craft, surrounded Buckingham Palace for a concert paying tribute to the Queen and spent millions of pounds on diamond jubilee merchandise in an outpouring of gratitude.

The scenes were reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, as the 25-year-old princess was welcomed to the throne.

Ipswich was drawn into the magic of coronation 60 years ago as well, but how times have changed in the city throughout her reign.

While 20,000 people crowded the city streets for the historic event in 1953, interest in her diamond jubilee failed to register much more than a whimper.

It was a much different story in 1953, as Ipswich rejoiced in the news of their new Queen ascending the throne.

The coronation was splashed across the front page of The Queensland Times edition on June 3, detailing accounts of the scenes in London and from around Ipswich.

The QT described Ipswich's reaction to the coronation as "a spontaneous enthusiasm never before witnessed in Ipswich as they celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II".

"The largest crowd in the city's history, estimated at 20,000 people, assembled in the streets last night for the festivities which climaxed the day's activities," it proclaimed.

The festivities began with church services in the morning and gradually built during the day until the evening, when motorists were left stranded in the city streets amid a mass of people on the streets.

Reverend John E White told the 700-strong congregation at a combined church service in Town Hall that Queen Elizabeth was taking her place in history.

"On two counts we may claim great prominence and honour for her. Firstly, she succeeds to a throne that has firmly established itself in the affection of the British people and the respect of all people.

"Secondly, for the first time in 116 years the crown will be placed on the head of a British Queen."

Mr White said he felt for those who couldn't raise the same interest for the occasion as mainstream Ipswich residents.

"We sympathise with those who cannot share our enthusiasm. We may admit to the uninitiated and those not sharing the spirit, it could possibly seem foolish and childish. Yet it creates unparalleled interest and draws amazingly large throngs of people together."

As the evening approached, the gathering masses waited for the procession of 50 units, including 32 colourful floats, which signalled the start of the night's events.

The QT reported the scenes as: "The section of Brisbane Street between Nicholas and Bell streets was one solid mass of humanity as a children's choir of about 500 voices under the conductship of Miss L McGuire sang appropriate songs from specially arranged seats in front of Town Hall.

"After 6pm it was almost impossible for motorists to thread its way through the mass of people."

The celebrations extended to the RAAF base at Amberley, where thousands of people crowded to see the trooping of the Queen's Colours for the first time.

"An Air Force official estimated the crowd - which lined the parade ground and in places was 10 deep - at 8000.

"Six squadrons of more than 600 men and officers paraded before the reviewing officer."

A flight of 10 Tiger Moths, flying in an 'E' formation, passed over the parade with an escort of six Mustang fighters at a lower level.

"The aircraft were overhead as the troops presented arms and the band played the general salute.

"A twin-engine Mosquito, piloted by Flying officer M. Garroway, followed the bombings and staged a display of aerobatics as the combined squadrons formed up in a column of route for the march past off the ground."

Queens Park hosted a 21-gun salute in Queen Elizabeth's honour at noon.

"Four 25 pounders, each manned by a detachment of four and a sergeant, fired a blank round every eight seconds in groups of seven. Volleys after each - seven artillery rounds were fired by rifleman of the 28th Army Field Park Squadron R.A.E."

Ipswich's sportsmen were not going to miss out on marking the occasion either.

About 200 spectators gathered at North Ipswich Reserve to watch basketball, vigoro, hockey and rugby league.

The enthusiasm in which Ipswich took to the celebrations drew praise from onlookers.

One said: "Ipswich certainly can do it when it wants to, and it wanted to tonight.

That procession was a credit to city and worthy of such an auspicious occasion."

Boonah held its own party along the northern end of High St and the Showgrounds.

The Coronation took the country by storm, with 40,000 people filling Coronation Drive in Toowong, creating a carnival-like atmosphere.

In Melbourne, 500 people required first aid and 83 were taken to hospital as the celebrations became too much for some to bare.

It is estimated 60,000 joined in, which included a massive square dance outside Parliament House.

Lady Brookes, wife of the State Governor, took part spur-of-the-moment event.

Bourke St was so congested with traffic police and ambulance officers had to lift the injured and fainting people over the heads of others to get them to first aid.

The coronation was also on the same day as another momentous world event, the scaling of Mt Everest by a British expedition, lead by New Zealander EP Hillary.

News broke of the 34-year-old's achievement in the same edition, adding a charge of emotion to festivities in the United Kingdom.

Topics:  diamond jubilee england queen elizabeth royal family uk

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