Archive footage of Aylesbury celebrating the Queen's 1953 coronation is remastered ahead of Jubilee

Nearly 70-year-old footage showing Aylesbury residents celebrating the Queen’s coronation has been remastered ahead of the jubilee.

By James Lowson
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 10:37 am

Archivist, John Flewin, asked for assistance to digitalise footage showing people celebrating in Aylesbury town centre in 1953, and now the town council has answered his call.

The new and improved quality footage is available to view online courtesy of Flewin’s company, the Stewkley Film Archive.

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Old tin cans containing material shot by members of the now defunct Aylesbury Film and Cine Club were found in a villager’s home at Stewkley.

After an appeal for a sponsor to help fund work on the digitization, Aylesbury Town Council came forward and the project went ahead.

The silent 16mm film was shot in full colour, unusual at the time, and lasts for some 40 minutes.

Street dancing in Aylesbury in 1953

Six members of the club manned the cameras during a whole week of celebrations, afterwards editing it and staging four screenings in the town in the autumn of 1953.

Stewkley Film Archive’s research suggests the film hasn’t been seen in the intervening 69 years.

John said: “When you actually see a film of this age brought back to life in what is stunning quality it brings a tear to the eye.

"It’s not thought there was ever a soundtrack to the work, but the visual story is compelling.

Marching band

“The contribution made by the Town Council in funding the digitisation of the material is a testament to how councillors value heritage assets, and this is certainly a valuable record of an important occasion, something that it may never be possible to repeat.”

Aylesbury’s extensive coronation celebrations started a week in advance of the big day, Stewkley Film Archive says.

With an event titled, The Pageant of the Queens, which was a parade comparing the periods of the reigns of the two Queen Elizabeths that included a 16th century monarch on horseback and a modern queen in a horseless carriage, an open-topped car.

In the procession that toured the town, six marching bands came from the RAF, the Army and Sea Cadets.

Officials at the coronation

Lorries decorated in Elizabethan-themed displays also toured Aylesbury town centre, alongside by huntsmen on horseback with hounds, and others in time-appropriate fancy dress.

At the time the Bucks Herald estimated the crowd lining the streets numbered between 10 and 15, thousand.

Street dancing was common throughout the week, and a major sports day involved Olympic athletes at Alfred Rose Park.

Other events included: old tyme dancing in the town hall, a tea party for the elderly and the Mayor’s special Sunday church service.

Youngsters were dressed in 16th century clothing for a patriotic parkland parade.

Two versions of the film are available to watch online now, the full 40 minute version, which is a silent film, accompanied by a shot list.

The Elizabethan-themed outfits

And a shortened 15-minute film, which John commentates over.

They can be found on the Stewkley Film Archive YouTube page here, also on the page is a video of the Queen Mother’s visit to Aylesbury in 1962 and Aylesbury celebrating its very own Golden Jubilee in 1966.

Open top bus
Aylesbury Town Centre in 1953