|In the centre of Petersfield Square stands a statue of William of Orange, who strangely had nothing to do with Petersfield, but was a distant ancestor of our Queen Elizabeth whose jubilee we were celebrating. William is oddly dressed as a Roman Emperor and sits on a huge war horse, all of which was originally gilded in gold; it was therefore perhaps not entirely surprising that the Ghost of Elvis Presley cruised silently up the High Street in a new Phantom Coupé (supplied by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars), between the rows of immaculate and gleaming Rolls-Royce, to take up its prime position at the head of the High Street and in front of the War Memorial. Of course it was not Elvis but Ted, complete with blue suede shoes and dressed for the occasion.
We had been invited to participate in Petersfield's celebration of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee by displaying our cars in both The Square and High Street which had been closed to traffic. When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 the British Motor Industry was at its peak, being then the world's largest exporter of motor cars, and the Petersfield Jubilee Committee were keen to celebrate this golden age of engineering. Accordingly some twenty-eight of our cars joined a superb display of Aston Martins, Jaguar, Lagonda, Alvis, MG, Morgan and many others together with some thirty British motor-cycles which included Douglas, Norton, AJS and BSA. Victoria Empress of India, a Marshall steam traction engine built in 1882, gently rocked on her wheels reminding us all just how far technology has advanced in the last century. The Square and High Street were thronged with happy pedestrians, many in fancy dress, meeting friends, chatting and all enjoying the historic vehicle displays, the side shows and food stalls which included a hog roast and, thankfully, the warm sunshine.
A short outdoor Church Service was conducted by the Rev Will Hughes after which a 'time capsule' was buried near St Peter's Church, not to be opened until 2112 - how many of our cars will still be on the road then? Complimentary coffee and cakes were provided throughout the morning for all participant drivers and their passengers in St Peter's Hall and some of our members took an excellent lunch at Annie Jones restaurant in Lavant Street.
After lunch all the drivers together with their passengers, including the great and good, set off for a slow drive around the town, with lots of enthusiastic flag waving and cheering from onlookers. In the meantime the pedestrians, a good few thousand in number, walked the short distance to The Lake to continue the day long celebrations with music, raft racing, side shows and of course the historic vehicles which again attracted a great deal of attention. The festivities continued well into the night with a procession of over five hundred school children carrying glowing lanterns around the lake and culminating with a blazing tribute to Queen Elizabeth in the centre of the lake. Wonderful.
The day was a huge success and The Mayor together with the Petersfield Jubilee Committee have heaped praise and thanks on all those who made it possible, not the least of which was our own magnificent display of cars.
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Peter Allchurch - Section Member