As the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation has been celebrated in the last few days, I thought it might be fun to wind the clock back to 1977, don our denim flares and our flowery shirts and take a look at what physical remnants of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee can be found in London…
Paul Fitzgerald’s 1977 official portrait of the Queen
Given how much London’s physical and cultural landscape can change in just a year or two, I think you’ll be surprised at exactly how much has survived the intervening three and a half decades, but lets start with the biggest of the tributes to Her Majesty – the Jubilee Line. Originally planned as the Fleet Line (named for the Thames tributary which gives Fleet Street it’s name) the name and colour change came as the result of an election pledge made by the Conservative members of the Great London Council. The line’s original battleship grey colour was swapped for a lighter silvery hue and two years after the Jubilee, on 30 April 1979, the line was formally opened by the Prince Of Wales.
The event of the Silver Jubilee itself was marked by over four thousand street parties in the capital on 6 June, and very soon afterwards one of the most well-known of the London tributes was unveiled by the Queen herself – the Jubilee Walkway. Unveiled on 9 June 1977 it connects just about all of central London’s tourist sites, with the route marked out by crowns set at intervals into the pavement – a popular way to take a walking tour of the centre of town, it has been added to in the intervening years. Several more miles of walking routes were added to mark both the Golden Jubilee and the recent Diamond Jubilee…
One of London’s most well-known engineering marvels also owes a debt of gratitude to the Silver Jubilee – painted up until that point in a rather drab greenish-blue, Tower Bridge owes its present patriotic red, white and blue colour scheme to the occasion. Just on the northern side of Tower Bridge is another tribute – the Coronarium Chapel. This multi-faith religious building can be found in the middle of St Katharine Docks, although time has definitely taken its toll here – for the last few years this unusual circular building has housed a branch of Starbucks. Ian Visits has written an interesting article on the sorry fate of this piece of 1970s architecture.
Of course the fine art world made a contribution to the Silver Jubilee, with the Queen’s only official portrait of that year being painted by celebrated Australian artist Paul Fitzgerald. This beautiful work, which shows the Queen wearing a tiara and a blue cloak decorated with some of her regalia, can be found at London’s Commonwealth Institute which occupies Marlborough House on the Mall, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace.
With all of these very grand gestures it’s nice to find that a much more modest remnant of the Silver Jubilee in London remains – the Jubilee Gardens, which sit just behind the London Eye on the Southbank. Previously a large area of grass, they’ve recently had a makeover to mark the Diamond Jubilee – you’ll now find trees and hillocks breaking up the expanse of lawn.
The glass block which used to grace the Coronarium Chapel – reproduced from www.ianvisits.co.uk