ADVERTISER 150: How we reported cheering crowds mobbing Queen’s East End motorcade

PUBLISHED: 19:19 17 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:59 18 December 2016

Thousands turn out for Queen's motorcade through East End

Thousands turn out for Queen's motorcade through East End


1953: It rains all day on Coronation Day, June 2, but not enough to put the dampers on street parties in the East End. Our lookback at the news of the day to mark the East London Advertiser’s 150th anniversary last month reports the Queen’s motorcade the next day through the East End mobbed by cheering crowds...

June 5, 1953: East London Advertiser's front-pageJune 5, 1953: East London Advertiser's front-page

1953: Invitations have been sent to 100 old folk by the East London Advertiser to watch the Westminster Abbey Coronation ceremony and procession through the streets live on the small 12ins-screen television set in the carpeted salon of the Mile End Odeon on June 2.

One pensioner, 101-year-old Mrs Plucknett, is presented with a bouquet from the newspaper by the cinema manager, who serves up sandwiches with cake, biscuits and tea.

It is drizzling, but people’s spirits are far from dampened. Children’s street parties are held, despite the rain.

1953: Rainy Coronation Day street party June 21953: Rainy Coronation Day street party June 2

The biggest is on Stepney’s Bancroft Estate which is organised by the tenants’ association for 875 neighbourhood children.

There are wet blankets on the Isle of Dogs as neighbours from Millwall’s Conway House lend bedding to peg together to make a rain cover for 36 children to enjoy their street party in West Ferry Road.

The warden from nearby Christ Church saves the day for 73 boys and girls at Cubitt Town whose party in Stebondale Street is rained off. He invites them into the church hall out of the rain. Little Maureen Gilbert is crowned winner of the fancy dress as Coronation Queen.

1953: Coronation street party in Bethnal Green's Hemming Street1953: Coronation street party in Bethnal Green's Hemming Street

Mums and dads at Wendon Street in Old Ford hire covered stalls from Roman Road Market as tables for the 68 children, while 28 boys and girls from Tomlin’s Grove keep dry when one mother borrows the Conservative Hall in Bow Road for their party.

Parents in Bromley-by-Bow want to give 86 children a shiny new five-shilling piece (25p), but only manage to get 84 of the specially-minted coins. A Poplar borough councillor promises to help hunt out two more.

A Mrs Paynes misses the street party at Maverton Road in Old Ford—she’s busy giving birth at the Mile End Hospital to the East End’s first Coronation Day baby, weighing a healthy 7lb 1oz!

Glamis Estate street party in ShadwellGlamis Estate street party in Shadwell


A bright Wednesday afternoon and the newly-crowned Elizabeth II comes to meet her people in London’s working class East End on June 3, a day after her Coronation in Westminster Abbey.

Hundreds of thousands pack the main roads as her motorcade battles to get through the surging crowds along the route through Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Bow, Mile End and Whitechapel.

1953: Queen's motorcade in Whitechapel Road on June 3, day after her coronation1953: Queen's motorcade in Whitechapel Road on June 3, day after her coronation

The Advertiser mobilises six reporters along the route, starting in Hackney Road where the car draws up outside the Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital.

Nurse Dorothy Harris steps out carrying one of her young patients, three-year-old Colin Towers who is clutching flowers.

But the toddler is too shy to hand the flowers over, so Nurse Harris gives them to Prince Philip who hands them to the young Queen.

Police link arms outside Poplar Civic Centre in the Bow Road to try to control the crowds. The surge is finally halted and parents at the back pass their children over the heads of the crowd to the arms of waiting policemen who usher the youngsters to vantage points for a better view as the Queen approaches.

The pavement outside St Clement’s Hospital at Mile End is roped off for patients and staff, but in front are eight-year-old Rosy Gay from Poplar and nine-year-old John Davis from Chadwell Heath, spotted by Prince Philip who gives them a special wave.

The royal motorcade is late arriving in Whitechapel after its delay in Bow. The patient crowd outside Charrington’s brewery sing Land of Hope and Glory while waiting.

Street vendors sell peanuts, flags and Coronation souvenirs. Fruit stalls outside Whitechapel station have a brisk cherries and apples turnover.

Children from Robert Montefiore Primary School have been lining the Whitechapel Road seven deep with nurses and doctors from the London Hospital an hour before the Queen is due.

Pupils from Canon Barnet and other local schools are waiting along the kerb outside the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Smaller children are in the motherly care of nuns. A Catholic priest gives up his vantage point to two old ladies unable to get a good view.

The Queen approaches, flanked by police motorcycles, and the crowd—factory and brewery workers, dockers and tailors—surges forward. Police lose the battle to keep them back as the royal car stops in front of the London Hospital.

“I nearly touched her—I nearly touched her,” screams an excited woman in the crowd.

Police eventually manage to beat a path through the surge and the Queen gets going again towards Aldgate and the City, heading back to Buckingham Palace.

The Advertiser’s front-page two days later on June 5 reports: The crowds broke through the police cordon at several points. The Queen, looking charming in a simple powder-blue fitted coat and matching scalloped cloche hat, smiled and waved a gloved hand again and again to the accolades of her people.


Cinemas in the East End are already showing full-length feature films of the Coronation just three days later.

Two distributors battle for audiences, but Gaumont-British has the box-office hit, A Queen is Crowned, “in glorious Technicolor”, at the Troxy in Commercial Road, Foresters in Cambridge Heath Road and the Odeons in Mile End and Brick Lane.

British Pathé’s rival Elizabeth is Queen is at the Mile End Empire and Canning Town’s New Imperial.

There is a third version on the picture-house circuit, Coronation Day, at the Odeon in Hackney Road and the Essoldo in Bethnal Green Road. But the Essoldo is showing the X-rated Cosh Boy with Joan Collins, so youngsters have to wait to see it at the Children’s Saturday morning matinee, which is 7d (3p) to get in.

Other films on release this week include George Montgomery in Indian Uprising at the Regal in Bow Road and Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan Triumphs at Poplar’s New Pavilion.

Fleapits like Stepney’s Ben Hur in White Horse Lane and the Popular in Commercial Road are showing old reruns, Roy Rogers in Heart of the Rockies, Ray Milland in Untamed and Jack Warner in Those People Next Door.

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