In this week's Kith and Kin, Peter Munro from the Borders Family History Society highlights how communities in the Borders plan to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III, compared to how the region marked the Queen's coronation in 1953...


I was interested to see that St Boswells Village Hall, in association with the community council, will be celebrating the coronation of King Charles III with a screening of the proceedings from 10.30am to approximately 2pm on May 6.

The poster that appeared on Facebook says that there will be a free buffet.

While this will undoubtedly be popular, I don’t think everybody will go. I don’t like watching long events and I particularly don’t like the inane commentary that accompanies televised events; I am sure I can find lots of more interesting things to do at home. I suspect that many families will prefer to watch at home, where all their comforts are accessible.

Just under 70 years ago, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was screened at the same village hall. That was popular, as various people have told me, because very few people had television sets and because the population was more royalist than they are now.

There was no big TV screen then, instead lots of TV sets lined the walls around the hall.

I’ve been told that there were no seats, people stood to watch the proceedings and the pictures were in black and white. Tea, coffee, soft drinks and cream cakes were available. The aerial was erected in a field where the bus station now stands.

The day of that coronation, Tuesday, June 2, 1953, was a public holiday but the schoolchildren got the Monday and Wednesday off, as well.

I’ve been looking at local newspapers to see what else happened.

It has long been a tradition for to give pupils a souvenir or to hold a party, to commemorate a coronation; though not by all local authorities.

My grandfather, Harry Lowe, received a small brass medalet in 1902, when he was 12 in Manchester. It was lost almost immediately.

In 1953, Coldstream Coronation Celebrations Committee decided to give Coldstream under-fives a souvenir coronation cup.

Roxburgh Education Committee agreed that schoolchildren would receive glass beer mugs, embossed with the coronation details; half-pint mugs at 18/- (90p) a dozen for primary schools, pint mugs at 21/6 (£1.08) a dozen for secondary schools.

That decision was not universally popular; some people were in favour of giving medallions instead.

The council later decided to give coronation mugs to the under-fives as well.

I haven’t found anything describing Coronation day at St Boswells, except that on October 6 [1953], the Berwickshire News noted that the balance of the Coronation Committee’s funds, £17 10/- (£17.50) was handed to the trustees of the village park and the following week’s paper stated that there was a surplus of 60 coronation mugs at Newtown St Boswells to be handed over to the village school at the end of the year and that they would be given to children yet to be born in coronation year.

The coronation was also filmed in colour and shown at cinemas.

There are various short films of the event in black and white and in colour on the Pathé News website,