Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents FIRST VISIT TO THE HUNTER BY A REIGNING MONARCH:
“Queen Enchants Newcastle”, said the headline of The Newcastle Morning Herald
on February 10, 1954. “Streets Echo To Cheers Of Huge Crowds”, it added, in case
anyone missed the initial point.
It was the ﬁrst visit of a reigning sovereign to the city and the Queen and Duke of
Edinburgh were given a tumultuous reception.
“The streets echoed with the cheers of welcome,” the front page of The Herald
reported on the previous day’s events. “Despite drizzling rain most of the day, the
greatest crowds in Newcastle’s history gave the Queen and Duke a warmhearted,
spontaneous reception.” Crowds during the day were estimated at 250,000.
There have been many royal visits to Newcastle and the Hunter over the years,
but none matched the excitement and fervour of that 1954 visit, just a year after
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.
About 500 people camped overnight in Civic Park, despite rain, with many others
on footpaths along the route of the royal procession, the ﬁrst squatters staking their
claims at 1pm, 24 hours before the Queen was due to arrive.
Thousands poured into the city during the evening to see the lights and
decorations in what was described as “a fairyland Hunter St of multi-coloured lights
and ﬂying ﬂags and bunting”. At Newcastle Beach thousands attended a concert
that was ampliﬁed through the streets of the city.
The Queen and Duke only visited Newcastle for three-and-a-half hours, with
the highlights a procession from Newcastle Railway Station to the city hall for a
civic reception, an assembly of 10,000 ex-servicemen at No. 1 Sports Gound, an
assembly of 40,000 schoolchildren at Broadmeadow Showground and a 50-minute
inspection of BHP steelworks.
Thousands attended each stop, with The Herald reporting that “during the 16
memorable, cheer-ﬁlled minutes of the royal progress through the city, Newcastle
fell in love with its young and beautiful Queen”.
Another 5000 people or more were waiting at Williamtown to see the royals leave
after the visit.
In her speech at the civic reception the Queen said “You have made wonderful
progress since Lieutenant Shortland discovered your Hunter River only a little
over 150 years ago and you have played a worthy part in the development of your
“I am very glad that so many men, women and children from the whole rich
Hunter River Valley, from farther inland, and from places north and south along the
coastal belt of NSW have come into the city today. I only wish I could visit them in
their own homes.”
Meeting the schoolchildren at the showground, the Queen said: “You are the boys
and girls today who will soon be grown-up men and women, and then it will be your
proud responsibility to protect and govern this great country of Australia.
“I want you to know that as your Queen I believe that you will do it well, and that
you will be good Australians in every way.”
The Herald editorial on the day waxed lyrical about the royal visit, saying
Newcastle was a richer city for it: “Whenever those adults and children who saw her
yesterday join in the national anthem again, they will remember the slight girl in the
From top, the crowd welcoming the Prince of Wales to Maitland in 1920, Prince Charles and Lady Diana
at the International Sports Centre in 1993, crowds at the Newcastle visit of the Duke of Cornwall and
York in 1901, and the Queen in Newcastle in 1977.
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