Our Century

A new Elizabethan era

Britain's new Queen
Britain's new Queen and Prince Philip ride through London having returned from South Africa after hearing about the news of the King's death.

King George the Sixth died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham to usher in the new Elizabethan age and the start of an era which was to change the face of the monarchy forever.

In the West Midlands there was a protracted period of mourning for a much-loved sovereign.

He had been reluctantly and surprisingly thrust into the kingly spotlight by the abdication of his brother King Edward the Eighth just over 15 years earlier.

People in towns and villages across the region were plunged into grief and a special edition of the Express & Star was produced.

"As the news spread quickly magesterial benches interrupted court proceedings to stand in sorrowful tribute and places of entertainment were closed," it reported.

Wolverhampton's head postmaster Mr W C Forsyth said that, unless instructed otherwise, the Post Office would remain open and communications would not be interrupted.

The concert that was to have been given that night by the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Wolverhampton Civic Hall was cancelled.

A telegram was sent to the new queen by the mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor James Beattie.

Flags on buildings throughout the town flew at half mast.

Messages expressing sympathy with the Queen were also sent by the chairmen of Cannock, Rugeley and Brownhills Urban Councils and Cannock Rural Councils The late king had visited the West Midlands area many time both before and during his reign beginning in 1922 when as Duke of York he presented prizes at the annual festival of the Royal Orphanage (now the Royal Wolverhampton school) and attended children's sports at Molineux.

Enoch PowellMP Powell marries: Wolverhampton South-West MP Enoch Powell married Miss Pamela Wilson at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London.

In an age when it was thought only women should write of such things the by-line on the Express & Star's article on the nuptials said "by a Woman Reporter"

The woman reporter - we have not been able to establish her identity - went on to reveal that the reception was attended by around 100 guests at a nearby hotel.

The piece went on to reveal that the new Mrs Powell had worn a gown of oyster satin with pearl finish and a veil of Brussels lace.

For their honeymoon the couple would motor through France and Spain to Barcelona after which their plans were unclear.

Crown Pub 1952
The Crown Pub at The Wergs near Wolverhampton has undergone many changes since this 1952 picture of the passing of the Albrighton Hunt.

Absent - 351 times over: An attendance officer told Tettenhall magistrates that a 14-year-old boy had been absent from school 351 times in the last school year.

Excuses made by his mother and stepfather were that he was ill, had no shoes and could not be made to go to school.

Yet clothing had been distributed between the family's five children and free school meals were provided for the boy, the court was told.

Asked if she had anything to say the mother said: "I don't think my past should be brought up. My husband knocks me about over it."

' Prejudice' at Willenhall: Willenhall Baths found itself in hot water following allegations of colour prejudice against Jamaicans at its Saturday night dances.

But the clerk to the local council said that, despite a recent stabbing incident, no colour bar was being put up at weekends.

His comments were not believed and four Jamaicans made the following statement to the Express & Star.

"We were made to understand that because we are Jamaicans or coloured men we are barred. Is this fair to us as British subjects to be treated like this because of another man's action. We are protesting against this discrimination."

Avarice of Tong's snowdrop pickers:


The lovely photo in the Express & Star of two little girls sharing a bunch of snowdrops lured many folk to Tong on Sunday.

We were passing through and were amazed to see over 50 cars parked along the roadside.

Some grown-ups were climbing a hedge and others, having already plundered, were climbing back again. I saw one person with a parcel of loam and bulbs.

Perhaps some of the visitors had gone to Tong just to look upon the loveliness but it is a shame that there are always some flagrantly avaricious folk who cannot look without avidity.

Mrs J W, Penn.

Steve Castle
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