How we celebrated HM's other jubilees
THE Queen's Silver Jubilee, 35 years ago, was celebrated in style in Dover and surrounding villages, with street parties, fetes, a carnival procession revived after an absence of seven years, and a seafront spectacular culminating in a giant firework display over the harbour.
The only problem was atrocious weather during much of the two days in June set aside for public holidays. But that did not stop the crowds enjoying themselves.
On June 6, 1977, beacon bonfires were lit to celebrate the jubilee in the grounds of Dover Castle, while during the day there was fun and games on the waterfront Granville Gardens. Morris dancing also proved a big attraction.
It was estimated that about 5,000 revellers were on the seafront or the Western Heights to watch the spectacular firework display. Dover Harbour Board, in patriotic mood, illuminated the seafront promenade with red, white and blue lighting.
Dover Round Table, now no more, organised a fancy dress parade party for children during the day, despite the rain, while Lieutenant Commander Donald Soppitt was responsible for getting schools to enter tableaux.
Members of Dover Rotary Club, under the guidance of Denis Weaver, organised other entertainment on the seafront and produced a superb souvenir brochure with a silver cover. Money raised went to four charities.
St Mary's Junior School staged a pageant, with 300 children taking part, depicting Dover through the ages.
Miss Dover, Rosalind Wilson, and her court were kept busy touring the various celebrations. Bod Bowles jazz band took shelter from the rain around the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club to add to the fun.
Bunting decorated the main street, but the decorations were nothing like they were 21 years earlier for the Coronation.
In the Dover area more than 100 roads were officially closed for street parties. Everyone seemed to be ensuring that both children and adults would remember the occasion. A number of street parties continued late into the night – too late for some. Police visited Odo Road in Tower Hamlets to suggest a wind-up of the proceedings.
Pubs did a roaring trade until the draught beer ran out in several Fremlin's drinking establishments because brewery workers had gone on strike.
The Dover Express, which had published a 16-page special jubilee feature, had its reporters and photographers rushing from village to village capturing the celebrations.
At Temple Ewell volunteers organised a party, with food, for about 400, while at Whitfield Joanne Skingle won a village beauty contest.
Because of the rain the event was switched from the recreation ground to the village hall. Another Whitfield celebration, at Manley House, was a jubilee lunch party.
One of the top communities for celebrations was at Aylesham, where there were four days of parties and other events. One event was a contest to select Miss Coal Queen, won by 19-year old bank clerk Miss Anne Carter.
What else happened in 1977? The A2 Jubilee Way opened (hence its name) and there was controversy in August when Dover District Council sacked its chief executive Ian Paterson.