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1937: Cuckfield marks the Coronation of George VI with a day of celebrations

The coronation of George VI and his wife Elizabeth as king and queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 12 May 1937. George VI ascended the throne upon the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, on 11 December 1936, three days before his 41st birthday. Edward's coronation had been planned for 12 May 1937 and it was decided to continue with his brother and sister-in-law's coronation on the same date.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 18 May 1937


Early on Coronation Day the bells in the ancient tower of the Parish Church rang out Cuckfield's loyalty to the new King and ushered in a long day of local celebrations.

The indisposition of some of the ringers made a full peal impossible, but 'two touches of the Grandsire triples' were rung.

Later in the morning, numbers of the inhabitants assembled in the Church itself to offer with their Vicar (the Rev. W. Hilton Wright) prayers for their Majesties, and afterwards to listen to a relay of the service from Westminster Abbey.

Meanwhile in the lake at Cuckfield Park (by kind permission of Major and Mrs. P. Magor) local anglers were engaged in a fishing competition, arranged by Mr. C. Marshall. The weigher-in was Mr. C. Baker. Of the thirty odd competitors Mr. C. Shippam had the best catch, his total of 4 lb. 13oz. including a pike weighing 3 lbs, 6oz.

At half past twelve some 80 old-age pensioners sat down to dinner at the Queen’s Hall the catering for which was done by Mr. G. E. Barnes, of Haywards Heath. Music during the meal was provided by Mr A. Henschel and Mr C. Carter.

The afternoon's events took place in the recreation ground, a parade of children in fancy dress leading the way up through the High Street. At the head of the procession was the “If Its” band of country yokels, the leader being Mr C. F. Selby.

The 'If It' Band leads a procession up the High Street to the Recreation Ground

Conducted by Mr A. T. Rapley, the children joined in singing national songs on their arrival. Mr Harold King being at the piano. Then came the judging of the costumes.

A continuous program of sports and entertainment kept the large crowd amused the whole afternoon in the recreation ground. There were 29 sports events for children and adults including: ladies musical chairs, potato race, men's sack race, nail driving (single ladies over 18), Nail driving, (married women), men's obstacle race, pillow fight.

Flags and bunting adorning the High Street shops on Coronation day

The most amusing event of the afternoon was a performance by the first Cuckfield Scouts of a country brigade's attempts to deal with a fire.

A football match played on cycles between teams from the central Sussex cycling club captained by Mr G. Sayers and Mr C. Sayers resulted in a goalless draw.

Tea for the school children was served at the Queen’s Hall by the ladies helping with the old folks dinner and other assistants. On the ground tea was served by the members of the local Women's Institute. A sweet and mineral store was managed by Mr F. Patrick and a fruit stall by Mr E. G. Markwick. Coconut shies were arranged and attracted good business.

After tea there was a parade of decorated perambulators, but sadly there were only two entries. Despite the rain the crowd stood and listened to relays of speeches from the Dominion Prime Minister's, Mr Baldwin and from the King himself. The Brighton and Preston Park radio really Company was in charge of the arrangements.

Then came a beautiful parade of tableaux on carts and lorries, and fancy dresses. Tableaux were entered by the Cuckfield School Stoolball club, Miss L. Gibb, Cuckfield Branch of the British Legion, Cuckfield tennis club, Cuckfield Women's Institute, Mr H. Hobbs, the nursing staff at West Hylands, Brook Street 'If It's' Band, Cuckfield Ladies West club and Mr. G.E.Smith.

The judging over, the procession set off amid a blaze of torches to parade the streets. The heavy rain failed to dampen their order, and the High Street, South Street, London Lane, and Whitemans Green was traversed. At the head marched the Haywards Heath Town Prize Band under the conductorship of Mr W. G. Bosley and bringing up the rear was the Cuckfield Urban Council Fire Brigade.

The long torchlight procession was a site that will not soon be forgotten. It was a spectacular event and all concerned should be congratulated.

On returning to the recreation ground the torchbearers threw their torches on the bonfire. Flames were soon shooting high in the air and could be seen from miles around. The fire was still burning when the crowd left for the dance in the Queens Hall.

Practically every ticket for this pleasurable wind up was sold; Mr Johnson was M. C. and the revellers danced to music provided by the 'Acadians Band' into the early hours of Thursday morning.

For the non-dancers a whist drive was held in the Reading room. Mr. W. Brigden was M. C. for this. Needless to say the business premises and private houses with gaily decorated with flags and bunting were a delight. The best effort by a tradesman was judged to be that of Mr F. Humphrey of Clock House.



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