Image: Queensway Queen Elizabeth II coronation fabric woven by Warner & Sons, 1953
As Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2nd June 1953 at Westminster Abbey she was surrounded by fabrics created by Warner & Sons. By 1953, Warner & Sons already had a more than 50 years’ experience supplying textiles for coronation ceremonies. From 1902, when Edward VII was crowned, Warner & Sons had been the primary supplier of the fabrics used in Westminster Abbey for the event. The most recognisable design produced for the Coronation in 1953 was a power woven pattern called ‘Queensway’. This design was made with silk and metallic thread. Robert Goodden, who was a lecturer at the Royal College of Art, designed ‘Queensway’ especially for the occasion which was woven by Warner & Sons at their mill in Braintree. ‘Queensway’ adorned the interior of Westminster Abbey, draped throughout the cathedral in both a blue silk in the nave, and a gold silk in the chancel - symbolising the transition into the most sacred space of the building. There was quite a buzz in Braintree in the weeks before the event; residents queued down the street to get a glimpse of the fabric when Warner & Sons opened the factory for people to take a look. Read more about the woven fabric by CLICKING HERE.
Image: June Swindells, Queensway, 1952
Having weathered the turbulent preceding years of World War Two, like many towns across the UK, the Coronation in 1953 was a time for celebration in Braintree. There was a fabulous programme of events during the week in the run up to the event, from cricket matches, theatre shows, whist drives, children’s competitions and a grand procession from Bradford Street through the town. On the day itself, for those without a TV you could watch all the action from Westminster Abbey at the Corn Exchange on the High Street or the Village Hall, Bocking. There was a feast of entertainment and fun all afternoon on Dixon Smith’s Field, Coggeshall Road, followed in the evening with a Band Concert, Grand Coronation Ball at the Institute, and finally fireworks on the Recreation Ground. Many of Braintree and Bocking’s events could be attended with the purchase of a Coronation button badge at a price of 6d for adults and 3d for children.
Image: Queensway inspected by the Ministry of Works - Joyce Pidgeon
There were street and garden parties across the Braintree District in 1953 and again for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. Photo of garden party in Bridge Street, Witham in 1953. Braintree Museum has a fantastic collection of cine film captured by Nick Williamson, including footage of a street party on Orchard Drive and Worcester Close. Do you remember attending a street party in Braintree in 1977? Warner & Sons would love to hear from you and add your memories to their collection.
The Warner Textile Archive has organised a series of special events celebrating the Platinum Jubilee. To find out more, visit their website: www.warnertextilearchive.co.uk.