Coronation Day, Billingham c1953

This is a photograph of the Coronation celebrations on the 2nd June 1953, it was taken by Jack Ollett from the bedroom of his house in Cotswold Crescent Billingham.

As can be seen it was a small cul-de-sac off the main road, there were
12 houses in all, the residents were Hough, Armstrong, Kellett, Ollett, Robinson, Pike, Spensley, Smith, Clark, Coleman, Lonsdale, Jones. The lady in the large overcoat looking straight towards the camera is my mother Margo, she was pregnant with one of my sisters when this photo was taken, my sister was born just over a month later.

The grassed oval was our football/cricket pitch, tennis court, camping area, where we built our snowmen and always played our games, this accounts for the bald patches in the grass. The telephone box was the email of its day, nobody had a home phone in those days so people would ring the phone box and ask whoever answered to take a message to one of the people living in the area, many is the time I have run along the street with a message for somebody, Cotswold Crescent is a very long street, about 300 houses, so it could be quite a trek to deliver some of the messages.

As children we had everything we needed where we lived, behind the cul-de-sac was a railway line with pigeon lofts running alongside it, three ponds, swings, a slide and a see-saw, at the top end of the street was woodland that stretched as far as Cowpen village in one direction and to Wolviston in another, we knew this as ‘The Foxy’, at the bottom end of the street was access to Billingham Station, Billingham Beck and a bridleway to Norton and on to Thorpe Thewles, we roamed far and wide, staying out until hunger or darkness drove us home.

Photograph and details Bruce Coleman.

8 thoughts on “Coronation Day, Billingham c1953

  1. Love the photo Bruce. We did the same thing at our part of Cotswold on what we called the COMMON, opposite the Darby and Joan Club, I wish I had a photo of our street party. I remember the Phone Box very well, hanging around until a specific time to either accept a call or make one, and hoping nobody came to use it and mess your arrangements up.
    One thing that did strike me about your photo was the lack of litter in the street, was it cleaned up special or do you think we were just tidier back then?

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    • Hello Ian,

      I think there are a few reasons why there was so little litter about in the 50s, firstly we had so little that could be thrown away, plus the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign was in full swing and the likes of paper bags and string were reused in the home, I remember my father using those very things to collect seeds from his onion plants and my mother making ‘Lone Ranger’ masks from cereal boxes, anything we couldn’t reuse and would burn was thrown on the fire and anything that wouldn’t was thrown in the bin, anything compostable was put on the compost heap and the ashes from the fire were dug into the garden, one of the major factors was that the houses were new and the tenants were proud of living there, they were mainly young married couples with small children and my mother in common with all of the other mothers in the area swept the pavement and road in front of her house as a matter of course and also washed down the pavement if it was needed, especially if we had been let loose with sticks of chalk.

      We will be in Quebec for a couple of days in the Autumn of 2018, I will wave in the general direction of Toronto whilst I am there, keep an eye open for me.

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      • Well put Bruce, yes I remember my Mam down on her hands and knees scrubbing the front and back step. When you wave, turn and look a little North of Toronto or I won’t see you.

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  2. Vividly and entertainingly described, Bruce. I’m hoping you might have observed, and can recall, other parts and people of Billingham in the 1950s. Did you know Virginia Harrison, or Barbara Hughes; both teenagers in that decade?
    Teddy Fletcher (originally from Norton).

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    • Teddy I wonder if you are from the Beaconsfield Street Fletchers, I think it was quite a large family group. I went to school, Norton Board with one of the girls, she worked in M&S for years and was still trotting around Norton when I last saw her. One of the boys married Bob Durham’s Daughter, that was much later than my school years. My Father had lived part of his life in Beaconsfield Street and was a friend of the Fletchers. Then we had Fletcher the Builder in Station Road, he still did his work with a horse and cart when everyone else had gone over to lorries.
      There were some characters in Norton then.
      Frank.

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      • My mother was born in Beaconsfield Street,and lived there until she got married. When her husband was killed at work she returned there with my elder brother in 1937 and lived there until 1951, remarrying in 1946. She helped her father John Carrol in his shop at no1 Beaconsfield,until he died in 1949. In 1951 we moved to Roseberry Road, Billingham. She was friendly with the Fletchers, most of whom moved to new council built houses off South Road in the 1950’s. Until the late 1970’s I would take my mother to one of their houses in Leicester Road in the car. I can’t remember her name, possibly Margaret. I was born in 1948 and can’t remember much about “Beaky”, but my mother would talk about the Fletchers and the Walkers. Joyce Walker used to push me up and down the street. Not sure whether any of the Fletchers did likewise.

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    • Hello Edward
      I have an ongoing project about Billingham Schools in the 1950s, I have many photos and over 800 names of pupils in Billingham and Haverton Hill schools from that period, if you want any of these photos and names I can send them to you, ask Picture Stockton for my email and we can arrange something.

      I don’t remember either of the two girls you mentioned, I did know a number of Barbara’s but I don’t think I knew anybody called Virginia, if they were teenagers in the 1950s they will likely be a little older than me, I became a teenager at the very end of the 1950s.

      The only older girl I remember was at the South Modern School and she was called Val Meynall, she was a head taller than any other pupil, including the boys and she could run like the wind, sports day was always Val Meynall day.

      Bruce

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