A Snapshot of Barnsley in 1937: A Coronation Year

Coinciding with the coronation of King Charles III our Digital Curator, Michael Hardy takes a look back at 1937 the Coronation year of George VI and Elizabeth and other events that happened locally that year.

The coronation of George VI and his wife, Elizabeth, took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on Wednesday 12 May 1937. George VI ascended the throne upon the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, on 11 December 1936, three days before his 41st birthday. Edward’s coronation had been planned for 12 May and it was decided to continue with his brother and sister-in-law’s coronation on the same date. In Barnsley there was a week long celebration as this Barnsley Archives film demonstrates.

We think you’ll agree that this is an amazing video which reflects the joyous atmosphere in Barnsley at this time. The film was premiered at the Ritz cinema in Barnsley for a full week following the King’s coronation. It is one of the oldest films in the collections of Barnsley Archives and the first in colour showing a bustling Barnsley Market. It gives a nice taster of films that you can watch on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/@BarnsleyMuseumsFilmArchive

Coronation Souvenirs

It wouldn’t be a Barnsley Museums blog without a mention of the Barnsley Canister Company!

A blue biscuit with King Edward VIII

Tins had already been made to commemorate the coronation of King Edward III in 1936 but he had abducted before being officially crowned. Below is a photo from The Barnsley Chronicle of King George VI being proclaimed outside Barnsley town hall on Wednesday 16 December 1936

A photograph from a newspaper showing people lined up outside the town hall.

Meanwhile back in 1937…Who doesn’t want a flap-jack with a portrait of the king?!

'Coronation gifts for customers' an advertisement for the Barnsley co-op.

Lots of souvenirs were given out across Barnsley including at Barnsley Beckett hospital as this photograph shows.

Staff at the hospital holding a box of souvenirs.

Barnsley Celebrates

These two photos were taken at St George’s School during the celebrations. Children played a big part in the celebrations with an event at Oakwell stadium

A newspaper advertisement about a pageant

The pageant was attended by 2,500 school children where they dressed up as people of the world and acting out parts of each countries culture. Although not currently available online the Yorkshire Film Archive holds cine film from the event https://www.yfanefa.com/record/6634

The Barnsley Chronicle published photographs of how different parts of Barnsley celebrated and decorated including Hoyland town hall

Hoyland town hall decorated for the coronation

In Elsecar there was a double celebration as bunting celebrated 100 years of Reform Row

Reform Row with lots of bunting. A person in the foreground is on a bicycle.

Celebrations at the Horse & Groom in Goldthorpe

Staff stood outside the Horse and Groom

‘Be ready for the Coronation!’ As you would expect The Barnsley Chronicle was filled with advertisements leading up to the big day.

An advertisement for the electric sanitary laundry on Day Street

There were also lots of adverts about coach trips to London to be in the crowds on the day of the coronation, although that would have required setting off the night before.

An advertisement for excursions.

Barnsley For Bargains

A screenshot from a video showing a fruit and veg stall on the market

As you will have seen in the opening video to this blog Barnsley Market, which dates back to 1249 played a big part in Barnsley’s celebrations in the coronation week. Prizes were awarded to the best decorated stall. There was a separate contest for the best decorated shop and private houses which ensured the town was looking at it’s best. Pipe smokers got their own award too!

A newspaper cutting about a pipe smoking competition.

It goes without saying that smoking on the second floor of the town hall or anywhere in the building is strictly prohibited!

Around the time of the coronation Barnsley Baths often held dances. The photograph below isn’t from 1937 but shows how the building looked when the dance floor was covered and the room was decked with lights. The Barnsley Chronicle reported at the time about a number of dancers that had been organised.

Barnsley Parades

Ex servicemen marching up Church Street

As featured in the Barnsley coronation film there was a parade of ex service men on Saturday 16th May. Included in this procession were Band of the 67th Yorks & Lancs Regiment, Barnsley Borough Police Force, Royal Navy and the Royal Engineers

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Barnsley

Crowds outside a marquee at the town hall

In October of the same year King George VI made his first appearance in Barnsley, the photograph above shows an eager crowd awaiting the royal couples arrival.

Other events in 1937 – Whitsuntide

Whitsuntide, also referred to as Whitsun in modern times, is the period beginning with the Saturday before Whitsunday and ending the following Saturday. According to church tradition, Pentecost is always about seven weeks after Easter Sunday, or 50 days after Easter, including Easter Day. As these advertisements in the Barnsley Chronicle suggests it was a time where people bought new clothes.

This other 1930s film in our collection is believed to be from a Whitsun event

May was definitely a time when people got dressed up for lots of different events! The Barnsley Chronicle published this photo of the May Queen at Doncaster Road Junior School being crowned.

May Queen crowning - "took place at Doncaster Road Junior School on Tuesday when Anne Collier was crowned by her classmates. Hre we see the crowning ceremony in progress

Alderman Joseph Jones – Mayor Of Barnsley (1935-37)

A photo of Alderman Jospeh Jones in mayoral regalia

Joseph Jones was a trade unionist born in St Helens in 1891.

In 1923, Jones was elected as Treasurer of the YMA and, the following year, he became its General Secretary. He was elected to Barnsley Town Council in 1926, serving as Mayor of Barnsley in 1931.In 1924, Jones contested the General Secretaryship of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) as the candidate of the union’s right-wing, but he was narrowly defeated by the communist A. J. Cook. From 1926 until 1931, Jones was on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, and from 1930 to 1938 he was the government’s Coal Mine Reorganisation Commissioner.

Slum Clearance Programme

Around the time of the coronation a lot of poor quality houses were being demolished, these photographs from a much larger collection are of Oak Street in the town centre.

We hope you enjoyed this whistle-stop look back at 1937, you can see many more photographs, films and other collections when visiting Barnsley Archives and Local Studies who also have the complete archive of the Barnsley Chronicle. Check our website for opening times and other resources https://www.experience-barnsley.com/our-archives

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