Have you ever thought about how history is made?…At every moment of every day in some part of the world there is an unpredictable or very significant moment which becomes indelible in your brain or lands itself in every history book.
History lessons at school were, for me, a series of facts or events which had little significance on my world. Living a childhood in Consett I had a very insignificant, insular life, never imagining that I would one day visit most parts of the world so many thousands of miles away, or see other cultures and understand the significance of my own nationality and its influence on other countries over the years.
The Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages were treated like fairy stories for me…..too far back in history and nothing like the life in Consett in the 1940s. There seemed to be no relevance about these dark ages with life and its events, in my time, and teaching, in those days, were separate subjects, so I found no link to Geography or Politics which affected the History subject.
No doubt we all have a personal memory of what we were doing or where we were in modern history e.g. death of Marilyn Monroe, 9/11, or the death of Princess Diana. It is perhaps the sudden horror of these tragedies which stay in our memory.
However, happier moments of history are just as memorable and we are soon to be celebrating a momentous year of lasting events in our country which will excite the whole world with the coronation of Charles the Third.
My grandmother would have been fourteen when Queen Victoria died and her son Edward the seventh was crowned King. Another four monarchs came onto the throne after him (one was very temporary) during grandmother’s lifetime, but she would not have actually seen any coronation, as TV was unknown technology then, and most folk in Consett had never travelled to London.
When I am asked about my origins, I always boast that I have lived through three bus stations in Consett! And now I am witnessing the reign of three monarchs in my lifetime.
In June 1953, TV was for the very rich and so, at eight years of age I marched in crocodile style with other schoolchildren, from Consett Junior School in Hartington St onto Medomsley Road to the Rex Cinema, where a colour film was shown of the Coronation of Elizabeth the second. As a preview to this, the news reel showed another historical moment for us..the conquering of Mount Everest! It was also declared that rationing had ended (from World War 2) and so we could buy our favourite sweets.
It was certainly history in the making and every schoolchild in Great Britain will once again witness new history, this summer, having the same pomp and spectacle which has stayed vividly in my memory for seventy years…and who knows what extra special news event may coincide with the day, just as it did in 1953… .but will they get a souvenir? Perhaps it needs to be more avant garde than a coronation mug.