The day Dewsbury welcomed royalty

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Today is the Queen’s 90th birthday, and I wonder how many of us who lined the streets in 1954 to welcome her to Dewsbury could have imagined that six decades later she would still be actively carrying out her royal duties?

I was one of 6,000 children waiting on Longcauseway that day waving Union flags and cheering loudly as she walked past on her way to the town hall.

A friendly Duke of Edinburgh, wearing a dark brown pin-striped suit and carrying a bowler hat, smiled and waved at us. How wonderful to know that he too is still by Her Majesty’s side all these years later and able to share in her official duties.

The Queen, I remember clearly, wore a sapphire blue semi-fitted coat, trimmed with black braiding, and carried a black leather handbag.

She also carried a bouquet of roses and lilies presented to her earlier by the Mayoress shortly after her arrival by Royal train at the old Central railway station. Numerous police officers were on duty that day and had to form a chain because of the enthusiastic crowds pushing forward to get a view.

The crowds had been waiting outside the station hours before the Queen arrived, some women bringing their own collapsible seats, while others, eager to get a good view, sat on rooftops of nearby buildings.

A police cordon had been set up at 7.30am that morning, but the crowds had started forming long before then, and three ladies camped out all night to make sure they had the best view of all.

They were Esmerelda Powell, of Eastborough, her next door neighbour, Lucy Field, and Mary Powell, of School Street, Dewsbury.

Fortified with coats, rugs, Thermos flasks and food, they spent all night sitting on a seat in the middle of the traffic island in front of the town hall.

Their all-night vigil paid off, for when police arrived next morning to set up the stand, they were able to claim the best three seats giving them a direct view of the proceedings taking place.

It was a day never to be forgotten in Dewsbury’s history, and although our Queen has never returned, we have many photographs, some of which I show today, to remind us of that joyous event.

And for those who would like to send their own personal greetings to the Queen, a special birthday card, made by UK Greetings, will be on display in Dewsbury Town Hall today from 3.30-5.30pm.

The event, in honour of the Queen’s birthday, has been arranged by the Mayor of Kirklees, Councillor Paul Kane.