The Hartlepool teenagers who got to be Royalty for a day!

The Royal rehearsal in 1977, with Susan Abram and George Stewart stepping in to play the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
The Royal rehearsal in 1977, with Susan Abram and George Stewart stepping in to play the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
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What a right Royal day that was!

A group of Hartlepool people had special reason to remember the Queen and Prince Philip’s visit to town in 1977 ... because they played the parts of the Royal couple just days earlier!

Julie Mason who was chosen to present a bouquet to the Queen.

Julie Mason who was chosen to present a bouquet to the Queen.

Regal visits always attract a lot of interest and Hartlepool was determined that its 1977 event ran smoothly. To make sure it did, town officials ran a dress rehearsal the week before the real thing.

That’s when Susan Abram, 16, made the headlines. The daughter of the Hartlepool Corporation chief executive Nat Abram played the part of the Queen for the ceremony.

The role of the Duke of Edinburgh was taken on by George Stewart, 15, a junior records clerk at the Civic Centre at the time.

Twelve-year-old Julie Mason, of Caistor Drive, presented a bouquet to the stand-in Queen - to get her ready for the real thing a week later. The Manor Comprehensive School pupil admitted she was a “bit nervous.”

Passers by paused and obviously wondered why 30 or so people were gathered on the steps of the Civic Centre. The odd dog trotted through the Royal procession but after a re-run, the whole exercise went off smoothly and staff went back to their desks to await the real thing

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1977

The then Mayor Coun J Mason and his wife Betty, as well as numerous councillors all took part in the exercise. And even the Mail reporter at the time got a call-up to play the part of the Queen’s lady in waiting!

Our story at the time reported on how the dress rehearsal went.

It said: “Passers by paused and obviously wondered why 30 or so people were gathered on the steps of the Civic Centre. The odd dog trotted through the Royal procession but after a re-run, the whole exercise went off smoothly and staff went back to their desks to await the real thing.”

Elsewhere in Hartlepool, others had their own reason to remember the day. Not least Clair Phillips of Kingsley Avenue whose tenth birthday fell on the very day the Queen came to town.

Clair sent a letter to the Queen and got a lovely reply. The Hartlepool youngster said: “I think the Queen is a very nice person.”

A Hartlepool company was making its own Royal headlines. Mendoza, based in the town centre, came to the rescue to help out the Mayor of Langbaurgh Coun Len Douglass.

Len sent his ceremonial robe to Mendoza’s to be cleaned and refurbished.

Tailoress Mrs Doreen Foster stepped in and made sure it was completely ready and in pristine condition for Len to meet the Queen.

Are you one of the many people who helped to make sure the Queen’s visit to the area was a smooth one?

We would love to hear from you. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk