Celebrations 70 years apart: Smethwick street comes together again to mark Queen's Platinum Jubilee

Two pictures on the same street, celebrating the same Queen, but 70 years apart.

Parkhill Road residents celebrating the Platinum Jubilee
Parkhill Road residents celebrating the Platinum Jubilee

Residents of Parkhill Road in Smethwick recreated a picture of residents celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 during a street party marking her Platinum Jubilee on Friday afternoon.

Then and now: Residents on Parkhill Road in 1953 and in 2022

Living on rations after the Second World War, residents in 1953 still found the money to mark the coronation – and 70 years later their predecessors feeling the pinch during the 'cost of living crisis' still created a spread fit for a queen.

The Lord Lieutenant Stewart Towe CBE attended on behalf of the monarch in full ceremonial uniform, including his official sword which fascinated the children of the street.

He congratulated the residents for organising the event, proclaiming the samosas were his favourite food he had tasted from the party which had tables down the centre of the road with curries, cakes, pork pies, trifles, sweets and drinks.

Parkhill Road, Smethwick celebrating the Queen's Coronation in 1953. The country was still living under rationing as a consequence of the Second World War meaning residents could not buy whatever they wanted but only what was allowed in their ration books. Sadly, there are more women than men in the picture as a consequence of both world wars in which hundreds of local men from Smethwick were killed which left widows and fatherless children.

He told the Express and Star: "This is a fantastic street party and it is wonderful to see every house involved with such a diverse amount of people and it shows what Sandwell does so well creating multicultural events which are enjoyed by everyone in the community."

The street party was organised within three weeks by Smethwick Councillor Parbinder Kaur who was inspired by seeing how the community celebrated previous milestones in British history.

A sound system played reggae, bhangra, soul and pop hits and resident David Nolan, in a Union Jack, compering during the day which included corralling everyone to the top of the street for the all important photo.

Councillor Kaur said: "I remember the Silver Jubilee in 1977 when I was at school down the road, we all celebrated it, so I thought we could do something special on Parkhill Road

"I am so happy everyone got involved, all 60 houses – there are Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, West Indians, Indians, Polish, Africans here all enjoying themselves together, it is just wonderful to see people chatting for the first time."

She added: "I want to thank my event team for all their help creating such a special event, seeing everyone together. The food everyone contributed has just been incredible.

"We have decided to hold an event on the street every year now, that's how much of success it has been."

Chief executive officer of the Dorothy Parkes Community Centre Robert Bruce was delighted with the event.

Dorothy Parkes Community Centre CEO Robert Bruce at Park Hall Street

He said: "We were happy to help, by providing the tables and chairs and whatever else Councillor Kaur asked us to do.

"We serve this community and this is a great event after a hard two years for everyone and it is a lovely celebration of our Queen's Platinum Jubilee. We needed a reason for a good party and the Platinum Jubilee provided it."

Smethwick Police officers also enjoyed the party to celebrate their "boss" The Queen's anniversary on the throne and tweeted their thanks to Councillor Kaur for the invite after putting her in handcuffs for the first and only time in her life.

Resident Guy Skipp, who has lived on the road since 1987, decked out the street in red, white and blue bunting to ensure the party was Jubilee ready and looked similar to 1953.

He said: "This is brilliant, I've been speaking to people I've never seen before but live on my road. I go to work early and come back late so don't really see anyone, it has been fantastic to meet new people.

"I saw the picture of the coronation in 1953 on Facebook and really wanted to recreate the same image but 70 years apart.

"They would have been on rations and just like we are all going through a tough time everyone has contributed something so our street party was a success."

The street's oldest resident James McGann, aged 82, enjoyed the day.

The avid West Bromwich Albion said: "I had no idea half all these people live on my road, I've liked the party. It reminds me of all parties we had in the good old days."

Parkhill Road's oldest resident James McGann, 82, enjoyed chatting to neighbours for the first time

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