Did you get an invitation to meet the Queen?

A royal visit to Stevenage New Town 1959

By Daphne Knott

On Monday 25th April 1959, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Stevenage New Town. The archives of the Stevenage Development Corporation held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies give an idea of the amount of planning which went into such an occasion.

Whilst in Stevenage, the Queen would tour the industrial area, which was still in its infancy, name Queensway and unveil a commemorative plaque to note the occasion of her visit. Those lucky enough to be invited to take part in the visit might also be invited to tea at Aston House. Various levels of invitation were issued, some to the platform where the Queen would unveil the plaque, some just to the town centre. As part of her tour of the industrial area, Her Majesty visited the English Electric Company.

Tea at 6 shillings per head

The tea was provided by P Buck Ltd of Watford at a cost of 6 shillings per head, with an extra 3 shillings charged for those on the top table who would be provided with Georgian silver and Buckingham china. The price would include floral decorations on the buffet tables.

The menu comprised: smoked salmon, egg and lettuce and cheese and tomato sandwiches; asparagus rolls; tiny buttered scones and buns; rolled brown and white bread; tiny fancy cakes; petit fours and strawberry and orange gateau.

The royal equerry made visits and was in frequent communication regarding the visit. Arrangements for the Queen’s retiring room included the provision of iced orange squash and a maid.

Finally, the town borrowed a Royal Standard for the day, to be returned as soon as the visit was over.


This page was added on 04/06/2013.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

  • Any photos of the people being presented to the Queen?
    My dad Charles Sumpter was one

    By Marilyn McCarthy (06/07/2021)
  • These articles tend to jog ones memory and I refer to the story written by Lesley Holliday (21/05/2018, below). One detached part of the English Electric Co was on the other side of Gunnels Wood Rd near to the Wine Society. It was a very large building rather like a hangar and full of heavy machinery. I was carrying a big tool box across the shop floor and was unable to see a large piece of equipment in front of me. It fell over onto the toes of my left foot it was very painful and, unable to walk, I was physically carried over the road by one of my mates to the surgery in the main factory probably to be seen by Lesley Holliday’s mother. I still have problems with my big toe to this day, but the rest of me is still working OK so I feel lucky. Am still looking for Irene Ford.

    By Roy Newton (25/08/2019)
  • Yes I remember the Queens visit to English Electric Stevenage in 1959. I was working as a sub contractor for the company ( Electrician ) so not considered a worthy person to be on site that day and told to take the day off, strange really because I had just completed two years’ military service for the Queen. I did not take it personally I still admire her, Am still looking for long lost friend Rene Ford ( maiden name ) she worked in O block I seem to remember somebody must recall her. Waiting in anticipation.
    Roy Newton

    By Roy Newton (20/08/2019)
  • My mother was the Sister in charge of the surgery at English Electric and she ….and my father were invited to meet the queen and share in the beanfeast!! Unfortunately my mother had to wear a hat, which was a source of sheer horror and panic. She bought a biscuit coloured one and plonked it on her head just before the arrival of the queen, and took it off immediately her majesty left. It then grew legs and took itself into the nearest dustbin!!!!

    By Lesley Holliday (21/05/2018)
  • I went to see the Queen on the tour in the industrial area, i took a few pictures , which  i  think was British Aerospace or was it English Electric? I know one picture took was of a bloodhound missile, pity no digital camera then, I saw the industrial area then grow, much bigger , Bowaters ,Wine Society , Fira , Taylors, John Lewis, hbt, Avery scales , etc.

    By Paul Johnson (05/07/2015)