Express & Star

Coronation Procession: Dudley man's father restored King's gold coach used on historic day

The eyes of the world will be on the glittering gold State Coach when the King and Queen Consort make their way back to Buckingham Palace after Saturday's coronation.

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The King and Queen Consort will return from the coronation in the historic gold State Coach

What few people will know is that the father of a former Black Country shopkeeper was responsible for its stunning shimmering finish.

The famous carriage, which was also used for the late Queen's Coronation in 1953, had been restored by Jack McKechnie's father John in 1901.

Jack, a well-known musician who for many years kept the Modern Music shop in Dudley, recalled the pride he felt in seeing it used during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.

Jack McKechnie, then aged 82 and living in Abbotsfield Drive, Dudley, said he was deeply moved when he saw the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh ride in the priceless carriage.

Jack McKechnie pictured with wife Pauline McKechnie in 2001
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II used the coach during the 2002 Golden Jubilee

His father John had renovated it in 1901, when he worked at the famous London coachbuilder Hooper & Co. He was presented with a special photograph of the coach, thanking him for his services.

The 261-year-old carriage is actually built from wood, covered in a very thin layer of gold leaf, and it was this which John replaced during the restoration.

Jack said his father died in 1928, and he had only vague memories about the story behind the picture.

"I remember him showing me a little booklet with pages of gold leaf on," he said.

"My memories of how much pure gold leaf was used are a little bit hazy, but it was several thousand pounds, a fortune in 1901.

"I was watching the jubilee procession on the television, and when I saw that carriage go past, I thought 'my father did that'."

The Gold State Coach makes its way past Buckingham Palace during a rehearsal for the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002
The gold State Coach being prepared for the Golden Jubilee in 2002

Jack, who played guitar in the world-famous Hedley Ward Trio, ran the Modern Music shop in Castle Hill until the early 1980s, when he sold it.

His uncle Bill McKechnie was the first person in the world to spray paint an automotive panel.

The coach, which was built in 1762 has been used in every coronation since that of William IV in 1831.

The interior is lined and upholstered with velvet and satin, and also features magnificent painted panels of Roman gods and goddesses.

File photo dated 2/6/1953 of Queen Elizabeth II in the Gold State Coach returning to Buckingham Palace, London, after the Coronation. The King and Queen Consort will travel to the coronation in the modern Diamond Jubilee State Coach and return in the historic Gold State Coach. Issue date: Friday April 28, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story ROYAL Coronation Carriages. Photo credit should read: PA Wire.
File photo dated 05/06/22 of the Gold State Coach on The Mall during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in front of Buckingham Palace, London. The coronation of King Charles III is set to cost many millions, and it falls to taxpayers to foot the bill. Issue date: Wednesday April 26, 2023. PA Photo. But with no budget revealed for the historic national state occasion, and the Government not commenting on the expected total cost, the amount of public funds due to be spent remains unknown. See PA story ROYAL Coronation Cost. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

It features gilded sculptures including three cherubs on the roof, which represent England, Scotland, and Ireland. And above each wheel there is a massive triton figure.

The coach was also used at the state openings of Parliament by George III, George IV and William IV. Queen Victoria, however, was not fond of the coach and after Prince Albert’s death in 1861, only opened Parliament seven times and did not make use of the State Coach.

There are only two older coaches in the UK: The Speaker of the House of Common’s coach is the oldest, dating from 1698, and the Lord Mayor of London’s coach was built in 1758.