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.