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24 September 2014

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Gloucestershire's Coronation memories
The Queen is crowned in Westminster Abbey
Coronation Day was a milestone in the life of the nation - many people in Gloucestershire watched on TV for the first time

Gloucestershire people share their memories of Coronation Day - June 2, 1953.
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Joe Cooper was a nine-year-old pupil at Westminster Abbey's choir school - and one of the youngest to sing at the Coronation service.

Joe Cooper
Joe Cooper was one of the youngest choirboys in Westminster Abbey

He says: "I can recall being woken up very early, about 2am, by our matron to be told that Everest had been climbed.

"We had to be in the Abbey by eight in the morning - the service started at 11 and finished at two and we didn't get out until three which was a very long time for a nine-year-old.

"We were given packets of boiled sweets and sandwiches to stave off hunger and I remember swopping my boiled sweets for a Chapel Royal choirboy's sandwiches.

"My mother told me I was the youngster person in Westminster Abbey that day apart from Prince Charles - and apparently he had to be taken out half-way through."

Peggy Ryland
Peggy Ryland recalls high excitement at her primary school

Peggy Ryland was a little girl at Plump Hill School and remembers all the preparations weeks before the Coronation as well as the big day itself.

"The mums were making skirts in red and white and we wore white shirts and parents made sweets for us to eat. When the day came round the school was decorated with bunting.

"We watched television in the cook's house. We all sat spellbound - the Queen looked beautiful, so young."

Les Pugh, from Stonehouse, remembers: "As a family we all went to a neighbours to watch the ceremony. They were one of the very few families to own a television set and it had a nine-inch screen.

"At 9 o'clock we joined a torchlight procession to the top of the hill where a large bonfire was lit and walked back home after an extremely enjoyable day."

Joan Smallwood
Joan Smallwood watched the Coronation on a generator-powered new television set

Joan Smallwood, from May Hill, watched the Coronation with her family on their new 50-volt TV set they had obtained specially for the occasion.

"We obtained a Lister generator complete with 18 glass batteries which we installed in our garage.

"On a few occasions a trip was needed to boost up the engine when the power ran low and we noticed the guardsmen's legs began to bend on the television screen!"

Derek Walters was in the Army and stood with many of his colleagues to guard the Coronation parade route.

Derek Walters
Squaddie Derek Walters was on the parade route - but had to face the crowd

He spent the night before ensuring his uniform was pristine and his boots shone - but despite his front row position was not to see much of the parade itself.

"Unfortunately those squaddies like me who were on the parade didn't see much of it because we had to face the crowd.

"You had to stand rigidly to attention for three hours. It was quite a muggy day and quite a lot of them passed out."

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Do you have a memory of royal events in the county that you would like to share on BBC Gloucestershire? Get in touch - we'd love to publish your royal pictures too. Email us at

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