Early memory of a street party keeping the tradition alive
Betty Ward, 89, is a street party veteran. For over 70 years she’s held one in Kibworth Harcourt, the Leicestershire village where she has lived, on the same road, all her life.
She started in 1937 which means she holds one of the UK’s earliest living memories of a street party we know of so far. And she is already planning for 2012.
“Carrying on these traditions is important. People in Britain are not very neighbourly anymore, they tend to come and go, so doing things like this helps get us together.”
“The first one I remember was in 1937 for George VI’s coronation, when I was 15. Everyone flew the flag, and ate jellies topped with cream from my family’s cows. Then we held a sports day in General Jack’s field at the end of the road. I beat all the boys in the sack race.”
“VE Day in 1945 was fantastic. We brought out whatever food we had and danced in the streets till the early hours. Everyone was jubilant, and everything was impromptu.”
“In 1953, I organised the festivities for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, including a fancy dress parade, a ‘glamorous grandmas’ contest and a pram race, which involved ‘nannies’ (men dressed in nursemaid’s uniforms) pushing ‘babies’ (women dressed in bibs and bonnets) around two villages. They had to stop and drink a half-pint at each of the nearby pubs.”
“In 1977 Kibworth continued its tradition for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, in 1981 for Charles and Diana’s wedding, and in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.”
“In 2011, to mark the marriage of William and Kate, I helped the Coach and Horses pub hold a street party for over 500 people. We had miles of bunting, and a mammoth sing-song with old favourites like Knees Up Mother Brown. We all got rather tiddly.” See BBC photos
“June 2012 is Kibworth’s next celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, when she will be 86 and I will be 90. I just hope that she, and I, can hang on that long!”
Research by Colette Bernhardt freelance journalist
1953 street party with ‘nannies’ & ‘babies’ pram pub crawl