A new Elizabethan age

June 2. The official dawn of the new Elizabethan age was also the day television came of age. More sets were sold in the run-up to the Coronation of Elizabeth than at any time before or since.

Coronation report in the Express & StarThe Queen, who during the war had driven military trucks, rode to her Coronation in a coach made of gold - for those people (that is, everybody) who were watching in black and white.

That summer was a cold and wet one and the big day was no exception but thousands braved the discomfort and waited for hours for a glimpse of the procession. The day made a star of another Queen, the enormous Salote of Tonga, whose own carriage to Westminster Abbey became flooded with rainwater.

February 3. Disaster struck eastern England. Hurricane force winds combined with unusually high tides sent a wall of water crashing through coastal defences from Lincolnshire to Kent. Nearly 300 people drowned including some in villages five miles inland.

Canvey island was devastated and holiday chalets near Clacton were under 12 feet of water. In Suffolk, boats were rowed into a church to rescue 40 people. Thousands of acres of farmland vanished under water and a massive operation began to save people and provide temporary accommodation for thousands of homeless. The cost of the damage was put at a then astronomical 50 million.

June 1. It was Britain's crowning glory.And by one of those happy quirks of timing it came on the eve of the Coronation of the young Queen Elizabeth 11. The summit of Everest, at 29,000 feet the highest mountain in the world, was conquered by the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing in an expedition masterminded by Colonel John Hunt. Tensing and Hillary spent 15 minutes on top of the world taking photos, hoisting the British flag and eating mint cake and biscuits.

August 19. It was good to be British in 1953 and even better if you were a cricket fan. England set the seal on a magnificent year by regaining the Ashes from the Australians for the first time in 20 years. Four drawn test matches, in one of which Willie Watson and Trevor Bailey staved off almost certain defeat, were followed by victory in the shadow of the gasometer at the Oval. The victory was spearheaded by England's first professional captain, Len Hutton.

March 25. One of the most notorious killers of the 20th century was briefly on the run and inspired one of the greatest manhunts of all time. John Reginald Halliday Christie came quietly enough after being spotted in a bedraggled condition beside the Thames. Later that summer he was to hang for the murder of three women whose remains were found walled up at 10 Rillington Place in West London.

The public was familiar with that address for it was there that Timothy Evans, who had gone to the gallows protesting his innocence of the murder of his wife and baby, had lived. More than a decade was spent trying to convince a succession of sceptical Home Secretaries that it was unlikely two killers were living under the same roof. Evans was pardoned in 1966 when it became clear Christie had also killed Beryl Evans and the little girl.


In brief

January 3. Samuel Beckett's play "Waiting for Godot" was premiered in Paris, the Irish playwright having written it in French.

January 14. A new photographic model posed in the nude in what some commentators called "filth". Her name was Marilyn Monroe.

March 1. 20 sick Wolverhampton soldiers returned to a hero's welcome after being freed by the communists in Korea.

March 5. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin died of a cerebral haemorrhage aged 73.

March 25. Queen Mary died in her sleep.

April 16. The new royal yacht, Britannia, was launched by the Queen.

May 2. Blackpool won the most exciting cup final yet - a match forever linked with the name of the 38-year-old wizard of the wing Stanley Matthews.

May 4. Bloxwich man Alfred Wood died in a Calcutta air crash in which all 43 passengers and crew perished.

June 1. Shropshire jockey Sir Gordon Richards on Pinza won his Derby just five days after becoming the first jockey to be knighted.

June 27. Prime Minister Churchill told to lighten his workload after suffering a stroke.

July 4. American entertainer Danny Kaye appeared at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

July 22. Plans announced to cut the number of London's Airports from seven to three and to expand Gatwick.

September 12. Khrushchev took over in Russia.

October 8. Telephone operator turned opera star Kathleen Ferrier died at the age of 41.

November 6. Speeding trolley buses, some going as fast as 40mph, came under fire from councillors in Willenhall and Darlaston.