The 1977 Silver Jubilee was a series of national and commonwealth-wide celebrations of the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II on 6th February 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI.
The celebrations are remembered as a high-point in a more monarchist age before the scandals of the 1990s hit the Royal Family. In between an international tour of thirty-six countries, the Queen and Prince Philip toured most of the United Kingdom where the crowds who came out to see them numbered in their millions. The climax of the celebrations were from 6th to 7th June when on the first of those days the Queen lit the first in a chain of beacon bonfires that led from Windsor Great Park across all parts of the land and, on the second day, a national service of thanksgiving was held in St. Paul's Cathedral followed by a lunch in the guildhall. On that day, in many parts of the UK, roads were closed off by residents for traditional street parties.
The Silver Jubilee in Coronation Street
Leading up to the celebrations, Tracy Langton was entered in a 'Bonny Jubilee Baby Contest' which she won, gaining a prize for parents Ray and Deirdre of a weekend in London. At the other end of the age spectrum the Weatherfield Gazette also organised a "glamorous granny' contest which Vera Duckworth, although not a grandmother at the time, entered and which Suzie Birchall and Gail Potter also entered Elsie Tanner but against her will. Neither woman won although a furious Elsie did make it to the finals.
The residents' main way of celebrating the Jubilee was to festoon the Street with flags and bunting and supply a decorated float for the Weatherfield parade. The theme of the Street float, following a suggestion from Emily Bishop was "Britain through the Ages". The brewery supplied the lorry, to be driven by Stan Ogden and which was decorated under the direction of Ken Barlow and Ernest Bishop. Emily planned to appear as Elizabeth I but Annie Walker insisted that she be given the role as she had persauded the brewery to supply the lorry. Betty Turpin refused to appear as Britannia and both Ena Sharples and Albert Tatlock needed a lot of persuasion to fill their roles. The full list of historical characters represented was as follows:
- Sir Edmund Hilary - Ken Barlow
- Sherpa Tensing - Albert Tatlock
- Britannia - Bet Lynch
- Queen Elizabeth I - Annie Walker
- Queen Victoria - Ena Sharples
- Sir Francis Drake - Fred Gee (posing with one of Jack Walker's bowling balls).
- A Caveman - Eddie Yeats
- Sir Walter Raleigh - Ernest Bishop
The plans came to nothing though when Stan left the lights of the lorry on all night, draining the batteries and meaning it was unable to start. The residents missed taking part in the parade and when it became clear that Stan was at fault they held a kangaroo court in the Rovers Return Inn with Albert taking the role of the totally biased judge, Fred as prosecution and Eddie as a defence lawyer. The regulars thoroughly enjoyed the barbs and insults thrown Stan's way and even Eddie pleaded mitigation in view of his client's usual mental incompetence. Albert found the accused guilty and sentenced him to buy everyone drinks.