Type of tree:
Given the weather in the spring of 2013, we had to be content with a cold and blustery day for our Jubilee Diamond Tree planting in Hilly Fields, Brockley, South London, thankful that at least the rain held off.
Students and staff from Prendergast Hilly Fields College, Brockley Society members, Friends of Hilly Fields, Brockley over-50s Social Club, London Borough of Lewisham councillors and officers, local dignitaries and the Metropolitan Mounted Police gathered to plant the American elm on 22nd May 2013.
We had all agreed that a fitting choice of tree would be a disease-resistant elm. It is a US cultivar called Ulmus americana ‘Princeton Riveredge’. This elm has a proven track record of disease resistance and there are thriving avenues in the USA that are over 80 years old. Its parents derive from trees that are more than 287 years old. The first avenue planted in the UK was at Highgrove for The Prince of Wales.
Local dignitary Sybil Phoenix addressed the group with Clare Cowen, Chair of the Brockley Society, and Tree Wardens Anthony Russell and Nicola Ferguson.
The Jubilee tree planting ceremony provided a focus for many people in Brockley to come together to commemorate the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. It also gave a number of senior citizens the opportunity to share their memories with young people who in turn may share their memories of this event 60 years from now.
William Newport recalled the Downham Estate street party that ran almost the whole length of Shaw Road. The bunting, flags and street decorations were so bright and cheerful in the post-war gloom. He remembered the delight for a small child of the plentiful spread on the table, particularly the jellies.
Kathleen Gibbs (91) and three friends went to the Mall the evening before the Coronation and enjoyed the fun and excitement of the atmosphere all through the night. The band of the Scots Guards played requests and small groups of the public were allowed up the Mall to wave at the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the morning. They had a clear view of the Queen as the coaches drove by.
Others told how they acquired the first family TV to watch the Coronation or remembered lining the streets the following week to wave at the Queen and Prince Philip as they visited many parts of London.
Dorothy Hogbin (78) had a particularly interesting family connection with the Coronation. Her father-in-law was a foreman at Dorman Longs, the company which put up scaffolding along the route and inside Westminster Abbey.
He and others involved in the preparations were invited to the Coronation and they sat high up in the eaves of the Abbey.