Consett Visited by Royalty - Who Knew?

Consett Heritage Project / July 24th, 2023

A Royal Visits Consett- Who Knew?

Our Consett Heritage Project is really gaining momentum, and what we love about it is the connectivity that it creates across the community and across the age groups.

One of our volunteers, Maisie Dobson interviewed her 96-year-old great grandma, Jean Simmons, for the project and uncovered a royal mystery. Maisie wasn’t totally sure if her recollections were accurate. In her interview she had mentioned Royalty to coming to Consett in the 1950s, but Maisie queried whether this was true or not.

Our Community Events

At our recent community event, where another volunteer, Alan Swinburne gave a fabulous talk about his life working at the steelworks, Rob Moran was in the audience. I had already interviewed Rob for a Podcast, and when it comes to historical research about Consett, Rob is a real master of finding the accurate information.

I gave him the task of finding evidence of Royalty. And within hours he had found the article – and here is his Facebook comment:

“Now I was asked by Christine Thomas to look for a Royal Visit to Consett in the 1950s and I found it.

Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood 

She was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, the sister of kings Edward VIII and George VI, and aunt of Elizabeth II. In the First World War, she performed charity work in support of servicemen and their families. She married Henry Lascelles, Viscount Lascelles (later the 6th Earl of Harewood), in 1922. Mary was given the title of Princess Royal in 1932. During the Second World War, she was Controller Commandant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Can anyone remember this visit?”

Billy Sands, responds by telling us:

“I remember it well. We stood outside the Rex cinema waving our flags. It was pouring of rain and the car went passed us at quite a speed. So after waiting over an hour, we saw her for a few seconds.”

and John Parkinson said

"I remember a lot of complaints because she whizzed straight through Consett to the old civic centre."

The Importance of Communication

In one small gesture we can highlight the power across the community when it comes to exploring local history and our Heritage. We have 17-year-old Maisie, interviewing her 96 year old great grandma, and then Rob, who knows a great deal about our history, had never heard this particular story and used his skills of detection to find evidence of it within hours. It also proves the power of memory – who would have thought that at 96, Maisie’s great grandma would have remembered an event from over 70 years ago – an event that almost everyone else had either forgotten, or had never known about!

Can you help?

If you would like to contribute to our Consett Heritage Project in any way – large or small. Please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Look our for our next Podcast – coming soon!

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