NOSTALGIA: Officials and crowds gather for 1954 royal visit

editorial image
0
Have your say

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – a picture can speak a thousand words, and the pictures on this page certainly do.

They were taken when the Queen visited Dewsbury in 1954, and not only can we see members of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Band in front of the town hall, but also much, much more to interest local people.

Look at all the familiar landmarks, no longer with us, but which bring back happy memories for those who lived in Dewsbury at that time.

These landmarks speak of the kind of lives we lived, the entertainment we enjoyed, and they are also a reminder of the people we shared them with, sadly many no longer with us.

Look at the photograph showing the old Empire Theatre before it was demolished and see the nostalgic advert – ‘Lovely Day For A Guinness’.

The posters announcing the names of the artistes appearing that week – the talented pianist Semprini, the impresario Carol Levis and the comedian Terry Scott, all of whom were later to appear on our television screens.

Look at the young men on the nearby rooftop, risking life and limb to get a good view, something I’m sure they wouldn’t be allowed to do today with all our health and safety restrictions.

Across the road was the building belonging to the well-known stationery manufacturers Waddington and Ledgers, another name to jog our memories.

Look also at the people standing alongside the bandsmen, all eagerly awaiting the Queen’s arrival, the smartly dressed nurses wearing their cloaks, and I wonder if they still wear them today?

The male nurses alongside are all dressed impeccably in white, and the two police constables are smartly dressed in full uniform, including helmets.

Do our bobbies still wear them today, I wonder? I wouldn’t know because it’s been so long since I saw a policeman in Dewsbury.

The second picture shows those lucky people who got the best view, some of them having camped out all night to make sure they did.

In the background is the Scarborough Hotel in Longcauseway, demolished some years ago, along with the much-loved Caddy’s Ice Cream Parlour, to make way for a new shopping development.

The KOYLI regiment were given the Freedom of the Borough by the old Dewsbury Town Council, and were often invited back to the town to take part in civic ceremonies and special parades.

Many hundreds of the soldiers from this regiment were killed in World War One, and their names are on the war memorial in Crow Nest Park.

In 1932, a memorial tablet in memory of the 55 officers and 1,391 other ranks of the 2/4 and 1/4 battalions who gave their lives in the Great War was unveiled at the old Dewsbury Drill Hall in Bath Street, where local Territorials once drilled. The Drill Hall closed when the KOYLI moved to a new home in Wakefield, and I should imagine the memorial tablet went with them.

How fitting it would have been if it had been placed in Dewsbury Town Hall, next to the plaque which commemorates them being given the Freedom of the Borough.