By Royal appointment - mill workers celebrate coronations

Royal affair: The pictures brought in by Mavis Nelson of the events in 1937 and 1953
Royal affair: The pictures brought in by Mavis Nelson of the events in 1937 and 1953

With the hotly anticipated wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton almost upon us, one Guardian reader dusted off her own Royal pictures to share them with Flashback.

But, the Queen in these pictures brought in by Mavis Nelson, of Calder Avenue, isn’t reigning Elizabeth II, but instead a mill worker called Phyllis Hartley (then Harrison).

Mavis, who worked at Rice’s Mill, in Pall Mall, begrudgingly posed for one of the pictures taken to commemorate the coronation of the Queen in 1953.

“I really didn’t want to be on the photograph,” she said. “I tried my best to stay out of it, but my bosses said I had to do it so I stood at the back and you can just about see me in the picture when Phyllis was being crowned by the Bishop - Violet Speakman (nee Wilde).

“I was only young at the time, but I can remember the day really clearly - especially the women parading around the factory in their costumes.

“However, when the pictures had been taken it was back to work as usual - we didn’t get to take a day off in those days.”

Among the collection of black and white pictures are two from 1937 - when King George VI took to the throne.

Mavis said: “Obviously I wasn’t there for that one, but one of my friends Nellie Evans, who will be 100 this year, was on both of the pictures with her sister Violet.

“I started at the mill as soon as I left school and Nellie was very good with me and she used to always bring me things.

“It was very dirty and hard work and so it was good for everyone to be able to dress up for the royal events. In the pictures there are all kind of costumes - from the royal family, to geisha girls and scouts.

“It is good to look back at the pictures and I hope they will stir a lot of memories for other people.

“They were really big events at the time, but I doubt they’ll be as big as the Royal wedding in April.”

Among the people on the picture where the women are watching the queen being crowned are: Mrs Holden. Joan Rushton, Rita Halliwell, Annie Clarkson, Mavis Nelson, Nellie Wilde, Mrs Hindle, Olive Hunter (Page Boy), Phyllis Harrison (Queen), Violet Speakman (Bishop) and Prudance Moorhouse.