Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Dartmouth
Traditional street parties, village hall shindigs, special church services, lit beacons and an impressive river pageant are just some of the vibrant festivities being held in Dartmouth and Kingswear to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
During the Royal Bank Holiday weekend in June both sides of the River Dart will be awash with celebratory events in honour of the Queen’s 60-year reign.
Community spirit has seen both town and village pull together to stage a series of royal activities for all ages to enjoy, including a flotilla of 60 vessels of all shapes and sizes parading up the river to Dittisham - which will arguably be the spectacular jewel in the merrymaking crown.
Kingswear Parish Council chairman and district and county councillor, Jonathan Hawkins, who has been involved in organising some of the local events, said: ‘The Queen has served the country very well for the last 60 years and it’s important to commemorate that.
‘All of these events have been organised by different sectors of the community and that’s been really great to see.
‘We hope in years to come people will look back and say they enjoyed themselves and there was great community spirit during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in both Dartmouth and Kingswear.’
The first celebratory event is being held on May 30th, a few days before the official bank holiday celebrations. Organised by Cllr Hawkins, one of the lower car ferries will be hosting a free Jubilee party for 50 VIP residents who have successfully applied for an invitation.
It will be strictly foot passengers only when the ferry will moor up in the middle of the river to stage a cream tea party complete with live sea shanty singers and a children’s entertainer.
More than 250 special Diamond Jubilee mugs have also been commissioned by Dartmouth and Kingswear councils to present to all primary school age children in the two towns.
Cllr Hawkins said: ‘It’s a nice memento of the Jubilee for the children. I’ve still got my mug from the SilverJubilee in 1977. It’s a nice tradition.’
Preparations for some of the celebrations are already underway, such as work on an entirely new Royal Avenue Gardens fountain which is being provided as a royal Jubilee gift by the town’s Old Dartmothians.
Old Dartmothians secretary Richard Rendle said the fountain will be unveiled in time for the national Diamond Jubilee celebrations later this year.
Likewise with Kingswear’s lime kiln restoration project in Waterhead Creek, which Cllr Hawkins also hopes will be completed in time for the June Jubilee celebrations.
Kingswear Parish Council is also hoping to raise up to £10,000 to install a commemorative Diamond Jubilee clock in the tower of the Royal Dart Hotel, as a lasting legacy to the Queen.
Dartmouth’s Regatta committee plan to deck the town with bunting for the holiday weekend and an avenue of 60 trees will be planted along Townstal Road in October to commemorate the Jubilee year. Two Windsor Oaks will also be planted at Kingswear’s Jubilee Park and Hillhead during the summer.
One of the first events during June’s Bank Holiday will be a dance in Kingswear Village Hall, being organised by the village badminton club. The party will feature Exeter-based jazz singer Maggie Reeday and her band playing music from the 50s and 60s.
Organiser Rita Rowe said: ‘It’s an historical occasion that brings the community together, which is really good.’
Prominent Townstal resident, Steve Smith, is organising a street party at Townstal Community Hall car park on Tuesday June 5. Nearby Ivatt Road will also be closed to traffic to allow children’s games to take place.
He said: ‘The whole community is invited, the more the merrier. It’s important to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee because of the connections Dartmouth has with the Royal Family.
‘Her Majesty met Prince Philip at the Naval College, they fell madly in love and all that went with it and the rest is history.’
Tables and chairs will be provided for the party, but residents are asked to bring their own food and wear fancy dress.
Kingswear parish councillor, Jan Henshall, is organising a traditional street party in Priory Street, Kingswear on Sunday June 3. All of the village’s residents are invited, Cllr Henshall said, adding: ‘It’s one of Kingswear’s original old streets and it’s the only flat road we’ve got!
‘There are public loos to hand and there are nice views from the nearby square and down by Kittery Court and the Yacht Club, so it’s an ideal venue for a street party.
‘We want lots of people to come to make it a really joyous occasion.’
Over the river, Dartmouth Caring is organising a street style party in the Old Market and Dartmouth Vicar Will Hazelwood is staging a street party at St Clements Church on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, complete with a bouncy castle and barbecue.
A special church service is being held in Kingswear’s St Thomas of Canterbury on Sunday morning, followed by a concert in the church in the evening showcasing local band Elle’s Angels and Dartmouth Players singers June Pocket and Paula Bell.
Kingswear Historians are planning a photo exhibition and slide show in the lower village hall on the Jubilee Saturday and Sunday featuring images of Kingswear, local events and people from 1953 to the present day; and on the Bank Holiday Monday the Kingswear WI is holding a cream tea in the hall for the over 60s.
A flotilla of 60 river boats will parade from Dartmouth Castle to Dittisham and back on Monday, led by the historic Fairmile ferry and accompanied by the peal of church bells on both sides of the river.
Co-organiser Anne Kelsey said: ‘The river is our natural asset and we wanted it to be the focus for a royal celebration. People are very proud of the Queen and we didn’t want her Jubilee to pass without Dartmouth and Kingswear doing something together on the river.
‘If it’s a fine day it will be a spectacular pageant and we hope it will be a social event with onlookers joining in and waving flags from the river banks.’
Another highlight of the local royal festivities will be the lighting of beacons at Dartmouth’s Jawbones Hill by Townstal Community Partnership and at Kingswear’s Coleton Camp by the National Trust, as part of a network of over 3,300 beacons to be lit by communities throughout the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, along with the Commonwealth and UK Overseas Territories at 10pm on Bank Holiday.
First Published May/June 2012 By The Dart