John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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The Coronation

Early Days

Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men —
on or after Thursday 12 December 1952

 1. The first time that my Mum ever saw a television set — the first time, perhaps, that any of us (Mummy, Daddy, Steven and me) ever saw one — was when we went to visit her Auntie Maggie and Uncle Harry in Bagot Street, Blackpool. Although it was housed in a big box, the TV set only had a tiny screen, about 9 inches across. It was a children’s programme that was being shown: The Flowerpot Men. The adventures of this pair of strange flowerpot-dwelling string-puppets, Bill and Ben, with bodies and legs made out of smaller flowerpots, first aired at 3.45pm on Thursday 12 December 1952.
 We saw the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on television too. This took place on Tuesday 2nd June 1953; so the visit to Bagot Street must have happened before that. I have no recollection at all of Bagot Street, and only a vague memory of the Coronation.

The Coronation —
Tuesday 2nd June 1953

 2. In our street in Ashton, Preston, just about the only family to have a television set at that time was Pamela Bramley’s. They lived about half-way down Fairfield Drive, on the right (as one looks from our house at No.20 towards Blackpool Road). Our Steven remembers going there sometimes to watch television. So I always assumed that it was there, among the group of people crowded in the front room, that I saw the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Bramleys lived about half-way down Fairfield Drive, on the right (as one looks from our house at No.20 towards Blackpool Road). This photo was taken in 1996.
 3.My Mum, though, has the impression that we saw the Coronation at the home of a friend of my Dad’s. There was some occasion, anyway, if not the Coronation, when we were all invited down to this person’s home. Mum can’t remember ever having been to the Bramleys’ to watch their television. It was a terraced house that we went to, off the main road, Blackpool Road. We weren’t the only ones there; there were quite a few other people there that they had invited.

 4. I can’t remember much about the televised Coronation; the scenes of magnificent pageantry were either lost on me at the time or subsequently forgotten. I have a dim recollection of seeing people on the screen, and wondering how they got in there; and more clearly, of seeing little white spots or flecks that appeared momentarily, at random, here and there on the screen.

 5. My Mum recalls that someone in our street was getting interference on her television set — it must have been Pamela Bramley’s mother, then — who then went round the neighbours to see if they were using electrical implements, such as a vacuum cleaner; she expected them to stop using them because she’d got her television!
Reception on the old VHF TV receivers was more susceptible to interference than the later UHF ones. I remember that after we got our first TV set in 1955, when certain vehicles went past the house there would be noisy white flecks and bars on the screen and crackles on the sound.

It was very interesting reading this, and to note that my own recollections of watching the Coronation on television are very similar to yours. Our neighbour, Miss Fenwick, at 41 Veal Street, Grimsby, (Dorothy Fenwick, known to me as Auntie Dorry) was also one of the few people in the street to own a television set. Like you, I was among the group of those who crowded into her living room to watch the proceedings on that little screen! How different the world of the 1950s was compared with today!
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