The Day the Queen Visited Hamilton

Just as Melbourne today prepares for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Duke of Edinburgh, on 26 February 1954, Hamilton was itself buzzing with excitement for a much-anticipated visit by the royal couple. Mt Gambier and Hamilton were the only towns in the region chosen for a visit by the new Queen, despite much lobbying by nearby towns.  The inter-town rivalry preceding the visit was immense.  Headlines in the Portland Guardian at the time included “Number One Priority for Royal Visit Should Have Been Portland’s” and “No Royal Visit an Insult to Portland”

On the big day, The Argus printed a map of the best place to catch a glimpse of the Queen and the Duke.

Where to see the Queen Today FIRST COUNTRY VISIT. (1954, February 26). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26593160

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke were met at the Hamilton airport by the Shire of Dundas President, Cr. H.R.A. Bull and his wife and around 1000 eager locals.  The plane had been scheduled to arrive at 3.55pm. The royal party then moved on to Hamilton’s Melville Oval, where around  13,000 school children had been assembled, some since 8.00am.

HAMILTON’S FAMILY WELCOME. (1954, February 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 15. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26593294

Along with the school children were several thousand others, many travelling long distances for the celebrations.  The Canberra Times reported there were 50,000 people present.

HAMILTON’S FAMILY WELCOME. (1954, February 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 15. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26593294

Hamilton rocked in Royal salute. (1954, February 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26593444

Hamilton rocked in Royal salute. (1954, February 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26593444

After being met by the Mayor Cr. R.S White and Town Clerk H.F. Donald and their wives, the royal couple drove around Melville Oval before returning to the airport for a flight to Melbourne.

The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 27 February 1954: 3. Web. 16 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206088677&gt;.

“Hamilton’s Children Cheer the Queen” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 27 February 1954: 8. Web. 16 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206088514&gt;.

This would have to have been one of the biggest days in Hamilton’s history.  In my own lifetime, I cannot recall a similar turnout for an event of any kind in Hamilton.

One thought on “The Day the Queen Visited Hamilton

  1. My brother travelled by train to Hamilton on this day, along with other students from his school. He was so excited about the trip that as they neared Hamilton, he went to put his head out the window……..the window was shut!!! He came home sporting a huge ” goose egg” on his forehead which to this day, never went completely away. He was 13 years old at the time…now a 76 year old!!!

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