Diamond Jubilee: Thousands of beacons are lit around UK


A huge fireworks display followed the Queen lighting the last of over 4,000 beacons

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The Queen's Diamond Jubilee festivities continued as thousands of beacons were lit across the UK following a concert at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen lit the final beacon from the concert stage after Sir Paul McCartney topped the bill.

More than 4,000 beacons were ignited across the Commonwealth.

Beacons in Tonga and New Zealand were the first to be lit and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard set off the fire in Canberra.

Across the UK, beacons were lit on landmarks and hills - including the peaks of Ben Nevis in Scotland, Snowdonia in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland.

The Queen lit the National Beacon before a firework display at Buckingham Palace.

Fireworks and music

The Duke of Edinburgh was not able to attend the concert celebrations after he was taken to hospital with a bladder infection.

A beacon was also been lit on board HMS Daring, one of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 destroyers on operations east of Suez.

Commanding Officer Captain Guy Robinson, led his ship's company in sending congratulations to the Queen.

Beacon at Mow Cop Castle The beacon at Mow Cop Castle, Staffordshire, was part of a chain of fires across the UK

More than 600 church tower beacons marked the occasion.

Many communities across the UK organised special events around their beacon lighting, with fireworks and music.

At Abbey Park, in Leicester, a lantern parade with fire sculptures was on display with a beacon.

A 30ft (9.1m) wooden sculpture of Britannia was also set alight, in East Hoathly, East Sussex.

Three weeks of work and three lorry loads of wood went into making the female warrior, complete with trident, shield and helmet.

Humber flotilla

In Nottingham, civil engineering students tested their skills by making and installing a beacon.

The beacon was manufactured at New College Nottingham and put up in Sneinton.

In the Yorkshire Dales, an Army helicopter was called in to transport wood to build beacons.

Soldiers from the Army Air Corps used a Lynx helicopter to carry loads of timber to hilltops in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.

Kent saw more beacons lit than any other county, with 182 applications made to the event organisers.

Diamond Jubilee beacons

  • About 4,500 beacons were lit in the UK, Commonwealth and overseas territories
  • The Queen lit the National Beacon near Buckingham Palace
  • Overseas beacons were lit in countries including Canada, Australia and Kenya
  • Two types of beacons were used: Bonfires and the church tower beacon fuelled by bottled gas
  • Beacons were lit on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in and for 1977's Silver Jubilee

The Humber Estuary was the scene of a Jubilee flotilla, more than 115 years after the venue hosted a similar event to celebrate 60 years of Queen Victoria's reign.

The parade of sail featured a vessel for each year since the Queen's accession to the throne.

Later, beacons were lit across the Humber Bridge.

Hadrian's Wall was lit up by 60 beacons hosted by communities across the World Heritage Site, from South Shields to Ravenglass.

In Manchester a "green beacon" was lit in a hospital car park.

The University Hospital of South Manchester commissioned a sculptor to produce a beacon made of recycled hospital beds which resembles a giant stylised crown measuring 5ft wide, with towering spikes more than 12ft high.

Religious buildings lighting beacons have included the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Hindu Temple, in Oldbury, in the West Midlands, and St Mary's Parish Church, an Anglican church in Moseley, Birmingham.

Representatives from charity Cancer Research UK scaled England's tallest mountain Scafell Pike to light a beacon.

In Worcestershire, the Great Malvern Jubilee Picnic took place before a beacon was lit on top of the Malvern Hills by 77-year-old Tony Cotgreave, who as a teenage scout lit the bonfire built to celebrate the Queen's Coronation in 1953.

Jubilee beacons pageant master Bruno Peek explains the history and symbolism of beacons

In Kent the South Foreland Lighthouse, which used to warn ships away from a treacherous stretch of coast, has been lit for the first time in more than 20 years.

Bidding to have the highest beacons was Somerset where six hot air balloons provided a sound and light show from Solsbury Hill, in Batheaston.

The southernmost beacon in the British Isles was lit at Jersey's Elizabeth Castle.

Beacons were also lit on the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Brecqhou, Jethou and Lihou.

The Queen's Pageantmaster, Bruno Peek, said he had been "overwhelmed" by the response to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Beacons event.

He said: "Our aim was to light 2,012 beacons because 2,012 have never been lit before, but by the end of the night we will have over 4,000 - that's truly amazing."

See all the latest Diamond Jubilee news and features at bbc.co.uk/diamondjubilee


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    This lit my beacon! Cliffe Richard managed to surpass his grating quality with his greed.Will he get paid for all those individual songs?
    We seem to be going through a stage of musical representatives who just do not have any puff left.
    Is there some implied meaning here about our economic prospects.

    When will the normal services from our leaders be resumed ( lying , corruption etc.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.



  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    So - we're like North Korea (post 21), and a few bonfires will destroy the planet (post 4).
    They're winding us up, aren't they?
    And are the Republicans out there sure that's what we want - an elected President and so yet another reason for confrontation? Isn't it enough that we support different political parties and football teams?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Simon Scharma is not an asset.
    BBC, please hide his microphone.

  • Comment number 25.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    David @19 I might not be a royalist but that is an excellent post, very evocative. It's a real shame that as a society we're not good at participating or organising community events. It takes something as rare as the Jubilee or a Royal wedding before most people even consider it. In the US by comparison entire towns go out to support local sporting events. It's something we could learn from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    The beacons lit up the event more than the BBC's coverage which has proved to be celebrity driven drivel lacking all authority and gravitas. There was no attention to detail whatsoever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Didn't see a single Republican banner over the holiday, nor hear a boo. Perhaps it was too cold and windy for them to turn out. Or wet? (That's a description of the weather, not the non-existent Republicans).

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @15. Foolmeonce
    I would go as far as saying it is downright sinister. According to the BBC last week 20 % of the population is republican and probably a lot more are ambivalent.
    The state sponsored media hysteria of the last three days seems reminiscent of North Korea. Every attempt is being made to give the impression that everybody in the UK loves the monarchy and is out waving flags.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Think of the parades they used to have in Soviet Russia with the rather sinister old men waving from the Kremlin.
    Think of North Korea and the enforced public adoration.

    Then ask yourelf, wouldn't you rather have the Queen as a focus for national pride?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    We had a picnic on the Green yesterday - mid-day until late evening. Hundreds of people there, having a great time, chatting, laughing, dancing. Then, driving home, we passed a crowd gathered round a beacon - only smiles and animation and flash photography. At night we looked through the scrap books our children had made in 1977 and the 1953 copies of newspapers I've kept. Marvellous day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The highlight for me was an interview with some halfwit who in all seriousness said, "Do you know, if it wasn't for the queen we'd be living in a republic." The word "republic" delivered with great disdain.
    Together with the entirely disproportionate, disingenuous and unbalanced reporting, that kind of mentality tells you everything you need to know about this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Meanwhile in the real World, it will be a pleasure to see BBC journalists remove their false "we are all having a jolly time" faces and get back to the job we are paying them to do.
    Congratulations to the Queen for outliving Her father by 60+ Years

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I bet the ambulance service didn't tell Phillip they are not coming today because it's not life threatening


    You get the society you vote for

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Pretty disappointed with the blanket coverage on the BBC. Clearly the organisation's alleged political impartiality does not extend to the republican/royalist debate. Fair enough the jubilee was clearly a news event which deserved coverage but what about a few commentaries from some anti royalists or neutral observers to balance the obvious bias? I've yet to hear a critical word from a BBC anchor.

  • Comment number 14.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    24 Minutes ago
    I bet the ambulance service didn't tell Phillip they are not coming today because it's not life threatening.

    ... Know exactly where you are coming from. Had the same experience a few weeks ago - 86 year old relative ended up in hospital for a week but we had to fight to get her there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Will this Rain never end!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    That river pageant on Sundaymade for dire television visually, and produced some of the most inane commentary ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    9.Gironaut - "......Phil, That sounds like Bonfire Night without the fireworks."

    Indeed, the irony of celebrating a monarch's reign with a bonfire...... more usually associated with Guy Fawkes attempt to kill the then monarch & install the Pope as Head of State.......


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