How did 21st-century Fairfield’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations compare with local celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation 70 years ago? The big event actually took place almost exactly 69 years ago, on 2 June 1953 (the Queen was on the throne for over a year before she was officially crowned) and, according to local newspaper reports from the time, the celebrations spanned a full week.
On 29 May the Biggleswade Chronicle devoted almost a full page to the town’s plans, which funnily enough included both fancy dress and a torchlight parade! There were also six television sets in the parish church (an equivalent of our big screen), a joyous peal on the church bells, firing of guns, tea parties, open air dancing in the market square lit by fairy lights, fireworks, an old folk’s day, a drum parade and a grand carnival. Phew. There is quite a lot of mention of Fairfield in the full listing, but it’s Fairfield House in Biggleswade; this Fairfield hadn’t yet acquired that name.
However, the Three Counties Hospital was given its own paragraph, with a slightly lower-key list of events which began on Sunday 31 May and Monday 1 June with two special church services. On the big day itself the patients were to watch the Coronation on TV, and the following three days were given over to a Patients’ Coronation Ball, an orchestral concert, and a Staff Coronation Ball. Finally, on Saturday 6 June, there was the intriguingly worded “Coronation party from London (including BBC and TV artists)”. Actually, the coronation celebrations went on longer than a week: the same paper reported the following week under the heading Three Counties Hospital that “Two coaches containing men and women patients visited London on Monday and Tuesday [8 and 9 June] to see the decorations. Afterwards the parties left for Barnet where a good tea was enjoyed at the Five Bells restaurant.”