On 6 May 2023, King Charles III will be crowned alongside the Queen consort at Westminster Abbey. Throughout the years the Bridge has been illuminated for coronations and royal jubilees. Today, it is lit with LED lights every night, but in the past it was only for special occasions. In 1911, for King George V and Queen Mary’s coronation, thousands of little candles in coloured glass lanterns were tied to the chains to celebrate the event. It was the job of workman, Alfred Bamford, to attach the lanterns and to walk the chains to light each candle – a job that would have required a head for heights!
By the 1930s electric lighting was used instead of candles and fireworks. In 1937 electric bulbs and wiring were attached to the chains to celebrate the coronation of George VI.
Illuminations for the Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953
This system used 6 miles of cabling and included crown decorations on top of each toll house. The installation was carried out by local firm, Gough Brothers Ltd. Watch the hair-raising work of installation in this fantastic film.
Rod Palmer worked as an apprentice for the Gough Brothers Ltd at the time and features in the clip. His son, Mike Palmer, got in touch with us to tell us their family story:
‘Dad used to take my Mother while they were courting, up onto the Bridge when it was his turn to replace bulbs that had been ‘borrowed’ on the easy to reach areas, and she would hold the box of bulbs while Dad would replace them. Mum says he had no fear of heights which was useful on this job.’
Do you remember the Coronation illuminations or have a family connection to this work on the bridge? If so it would be great to hear from you.
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