Memories of Diana, Princess of Wales in Hartlepool - on the day she would have turned 60

What a day of sunshine and smiles that was. And what an impression a princess made on townspeople.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 1:32 pm

The date was March 18, 1987, and a Royal couple – Prince Charles and Princess Diana – brought the crowds out in their thousands.

Today, on what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday, we take a look at a very special visit to Hartlepool

Princess Diana wowed the people of Hartlepool and especially one very appreciative 11-year-old. Jill Barnfather was in the crowds when the Princess spotted her shivering as she was about to present a bouquet.

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Memories of a royal visit to Hartlepool in 1987. Were you there?
Memories of a royal visit to Hartlepool in 1987. Were you there?

“She said that I must be freezing and asked me if I had a coat. I told her I had a cardigan behind me,” said Jill, 34 years ago. “She was really beautiful.”

The Hartlepool Mail team of reporters was there to mingle with the crowds and sample the atmosphere.

Our report on the day said: “The sunshine royals swept into Hartlepool to a huge warm welcome from cheering crowds.”

The crowd broke into a chorus of Land Of Hope And Glory as Diana said hello to locals. She was wearing a large black and white checked coat.

Did you get to meet the princess in 1987?

The couple were received by the deputy lieutenant of Cleveland Charles MacFarlane. The official party which greeted them was Mayor and Mayoress Bob and Jean Barnfather as well as chief executive Nat Abram.

But it was the crowds, which had waited so long for the special occasion, who told us more at the time.

Alice Pearson, 95, said in 1987: “I love all the Royal family but it is Di I have come to see. I have been looking forward to it for ages.”

Alice was one of many residents of the Owton Fens home for the elderly who were allowed on to the station platform to get a closer view.

Thousands turned out to meet the royal couple.

Diana came over to chat to them. Wyn Parker ran the station’s photo booth back then and was given the chance to sell Hartlepool’s finer points to the princess.

"I told her it was the best place in the world and the people are lovely.”

Children from three Hartlepool schools – Brougham, St Joseph’s and Ward Jackson – were allowed to skip lessons to be at the special occasion.

Were you? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]

How the Hartlepool Mail reported the special day.

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Children from three schools were allowed to watch the visit. Were you among them?