A glance back: Photographer recalls memories of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation day on Brecknock Estate
As Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2 ,1953, scenes of jubilation erupted across Islington. Clifford Tracy grew up on the Brecknock Estate in Tufnell Park and, as a keen photographer, was enlisted to document the celebrations to mark the momentous day at the age of 18. Now 78 and living in Spain, he recounts his memories of the occasion.
“Things were quite difficult for my parents, as it was for many families living on the Brecknock Estate. At the time of the Coronation I was a month away from my 18th birthday and had my orders to join the Green Jackets Regiment in Winchester on September 1.
Brecknock Estate was a large estate housing many families of all shapes and sizes. At the time it seemed that everyone new each other, like a great big family. Generally a pretty decent place to live. I was the eldest of six children and was then working at a company producing luxury wooden items for Harrods and the like. My hobbies included photography, so the coming party was an incentive to earn some extra money. George Forey, my cycling friend, was working in Fleet Street processing press photographs – an ideal accomplice for the Coronation party.
I can remember the day being very exciting with all “hands on deck” helping to make the event a success. There was bunting and flags, food, drink and sweets – a real party atmosphere. Music was by various volunteers playing their vinyl records through loud speakers over the balconies facing the tables.
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No photographers were hired in those days, so it was all down to George and I. As I used up a roll of 35mm film, I went up to my parents’ flat, which overlooked the party, and processed the film in the darkroom – the bathroom.
The fancy dress was a great success and a very good effort by all was achieved. The winner, I believe, was the little fellow extreme left of the group dressed as Charlie Chester.
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A great day was had by all. I went on to continue my cabinet making and eventually started my own business in restoration of antique furniture. All my siblings have done very well in their lives. As for my old friend George, I’ve not heard or seen him since beginning my national service.
All those years gone by and here we are again.”