Fascinating look back 80 years to coronation

The appearance and efficiency of these cookers was said to satisfy the most exacting housewife
The appearance and efficiency of these cookers was said to satisfy the most exacting housewife

Coronation celebrations in Southwick 80 years ago revealed much about society at the time.

Souvenir programmes, pictures and interesting newspaper advertisements are all on show in the latest exhibition at Manor Cottage Heritage Centre.

It was a time when new housing estates north of Old Shoreham Road and along Manor Hall Road were being built, and the shopping and commercial centre was still in Albion Street.

Nigel Divers, secretary of Southwick Society, which runs the centre, said: “The souvenir programmes published by the old Brighton and Hove Herald include some gorgeous colour illustrations that evoke the period superbly.

“Even the adverts tell great stories. I particularly like the large colour promotion for Brighton Electricity, urging people to buy new electric cookers and other household appliances. To our eyes, they look antiquated, but in 1937 they were cutting-edge technology and for most people, electricity in the home was a novelty.

“Locally, the electricity was generated in Brighton Corporation’s state-of-the-art power station in Southwick, so we have a particular link with it.”

The exhibition shows how the town marked the crowning of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on Wednesday, May 12, 1937.

Drawing on souvenir editions of local newspapers, cuttings from the national press and Southwick’s own official programme of events, the displays capture the flavour of the times.

Mr Divers said: “We are especially lucky to have a copy of Southwick’s own programme telling how local people celebrated.

“Again, the adverts tell fascinating stories. For example, this was the time when new housing estates were springing up in the area and there are many adverts for new homes for just a few hundred pounds - mind you, they were large sums then.

“We feel sure that local people will still have items from the time and we would be delighted to see them. For example, we believe that all local schoolchildren were given a coronation mug but we have yet to find one.”

The exhibition runs until September 9. Other displays in the cottage, at 16/18 Southwick Street, include the story of Southwick’s schools, agriculture in the town, Southwick Roman villa and servicemen in the Great War.

The cottage is open on Saturdays, from 10.30am to 12.30am. Admission is free but donations are invited.