Thursday, 2 February 2017

CHESTER ROAD, CORONATION DAY 1937



On the 12th May 1937 Middlewich joined with the rest of the country in celebrating the Coronation of King George VI, and we assume that this picture was taken, if not on the day itself, on a day very close to it..
The Coronation marked the end of a turbulent time for the British Monarchy. Edward VIII had reigned for less than a year before he was forced to abdicate rather than give up his relationship with Mrs Simpson.
He was never crowned  and  by 1937, when Edward had been succeeded by George VI, the Monarchy was keen to mount an occasion to remember, in order to restore Royalty's somewhat tarnished reputation.
The town rose to the occasion, as it traditionally did when it came to Royal occasions.
Middlewich had always considered itself to be a 'Royalist' town, from the days of the civil war, although by 1937 this will have been more a matter of custom and practice than of any deep-seated emotional attachment to the Crown.
Nevertheless, for the 1937 Coronation, Middlewich pulled out all the stops. Among the many events were no less than three processions through the town, a bonfire and firework display, and sports on the football ground in Seddon Street.
All these things, and more, were recorded on film for posterity by members of the Mid-Cheshire Amateur Cinematography Society (MCACS) and the films subsequently shown to the public in the Alhambra Cinema.
The Coronation 1937 film is now preserved in the North-West Film Archive at Manchester University, as part of the Roberts Collection.
The film, with the original opening titles restored, can be seen on the Salt Town Productions YouTube channel. Please follow this link.




Another feature of Middlewich's  celebrations for this momentous Royal occasion was the erection of arches bearing patriotic messages across some of the streets.
There was one in  Kinderton Street, one in Kitfield Avenue, and one in Hayhurst Avenue. ICI built one in Lewin Street close to the White Horse
And there was the one shown here, erected by the Independent Order of Oddfellows, who were based at the Golden Lion, just out of shot to the left, proclaiming

LOYAL GREETINGS TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN

This arch also features in the Coronation 1937 film and, fortuitously, when the MCACS cameraman (in all probability Clifford Ridgway) came along to film it, he did so from the other direction, and so we know what it says on the reverse  side:

MIDDLEWICH HISTORY READS: 'ALL THE MEN ARE LOYAL THERE'

 a quote which is attributed to Charles Frederick Lawrence, Clerk to the MUDC, historian and poet.

He was, of course, alluding to that old Royalist rhyme from the days of the Civil War:

Middlewich is a pretty town,
Seated in a valley,
With a church, a market cross,
And eke a bowling alley.
All the men are loyal there,
Pretty girls are plenty;
Church and King and down with the Rump,
There's none such a town in twenty

In the background Middlewich Motors can be seen, draped with bunting for the occasion, and with another of those superb vintage cars parked outside, complete with spare wheel carrier.
Under the arch itself a gentleman who looks very much like a postman is passing the time of day with a local resident.
(with acknowledgments to Middlewich 1900-1950 by Allan Earl (Cheshire Country Publishing 1994)

First published 10th March 2012
Updated and re-published 2nd February 2017

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