IN 1935 Cheney & Sons compiled, printed and published a booklet in celebration of the Silver Jubilee of King George V.
Fortunately for the present local historian it also included a brief sketch of some changes which had occurred in Banbury since 1910 when the King ascended the throne.
Today’s article focuses on how the town marked the 1935 Jubilee and the subsequent one explores the introductory statement that ‘in no other like period in its history has the town of Banbury undergone such considerable change as in the first twenty-five years of the reign of King George V’.
The Jubilee was celebrated right across the town and in a substantial number of villages as well.
It touched the lives of young and old and meant a busy year for garage proprietor Sidney Ewins who was mayor.
Uniformed organisations were at the forefront of the occasion. Crouch Hill had been chosen as the site of one of some 2,000 beacons that provided a chain of fire across Britain.
On May 6 Cubs, Scouts and Rover Scouts marched with their colours from Marlborough Road to the top of the hill, which was owned by a member of the Stroud family.
At the front of their procession was the flag that had been flown on a British cruiser at the Battle of Heligoland during the Great War. After a camp fire singsong the beacon was lit at 10pm: coincidentally another sprung into life at Sibford.
Back in the town Banbury Sound’s van toured a variety of locations where parties were in progress. The most notable of these were in Calthorpe Street, the Cherwell Streets, Horse Fair where the celebrations continued until 1am and Neithrop’s Foundry Square, which was one of the best supported open-air parties.
In no small measure the success of this last area was due to sponsorship by Mr Bustin of Orchard House. During this party there was a remarkable incident involving the players and officials of Banbury Spencer Football Club. They had come straight from a cup triumph on Oxford City’s White House Ground.
The occasion was the final of the Oxfordshire Charity Cup competition in which company side Spencer had beaten Henley Town.
Armed with the newly acquired cup, players and officials made short speeches to those assembled in the square.
Interestingly this was not the only club involvement in the celebrations. A special match was arranged whereby a combined Spencer and RAF Heyford side played against a representative air force eleven.
The 5-3 score line in favour of the former was due in no small measure to Randall (RAF goalie) whose ‘prowess between the sticks made it possible’. Some 3,000 spectators ensured a bumper attendance at costs varying from 6d (2½p) to 3d for unemployed and 1d in the case of boys.
Celebrations in villages had their own unique flavour.
At Adderbury the highlight was the crowning of the May Queen Mary Plackett which was followed by Maypole dancing on the Green and children’s races at Adderbury House. Events at Tysoe inspired one of its oldest inhabitants to pen a letter to the Banbury Guardian in which he commented ‘I do not remember anything in all my long life so beautiful in our village’.
Meanwhile back in Banbury, St John’s RC Church choir sang in celebration from the top of the church tower.
They were trained and organised by organist and choir master Tommy Hutchings, who was also a notable dance band (The Futurists) leader of the day.
Amongst his church singers were Messrs W and G E Hutchings. These were true veterans, the latter having sung on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee (1887).
Cheney’s booklet, which is a real archival gem, was sold for 6d (2½p). By everyone’s reckoning this was an uneconomic price. However copies were widely available. I wonder whether the compilers anticipated how wholeheartedly Banbury would mark the King’s milestone.