Coronation Day Aquatic Procession Trophy ; 1953; 5


Camden Haven Historical Society


Coronation Day Aquatic Procession Trophy

About this object

This English made tankard was the prize for the best comical float in a river pageant celebrating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II held on 2nd June 1953. The Pewter Tankard is the only known surviving trophy from the Laurieton Coronation Day Aquatic Procession. It was awarded to Ron McLennan, Laurieton’s Assistant Post Master for his entry described as:
“The latest model water mobile. A jalopy that likes the water choppy”.
The glass bottom tankard is inscribed: “Awarded to Mr. R. McLennan Best Comical Float Coronation Day Aqouatic [sic.] Procession Laurieton 2nd June 1953.”

Across Australia, communities celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s coronation with concerts, street parades and many other civil and community events. In the Camden Haven area, the people of Laurieton, Dunbogan and North Haven joined forces and organised an aquatic festival, a coronation gesture believed to be unique in New South Wales and possibly Australia. River parades have a connection with British royalty going back 600 years to the time of King Henry VIII with parades on the Thames.

The river procession made news around the country and was recorded on a Cinesound newsreel. It was reported that the procession included 13 fishing boats, droghers, rafts and more than 20 smaller craft decorated with flags and bunting paraded down the Camden Haven River to the entrance and back again. The population of Laurieton was nearly 1500 at the time and the procession decorations costing £400 were paid for by the people of the area.

More than 3500 people lined the shore to cheer the passing fleet of boats. The people of Laurieton and surrounding districts could not share in City celebrations but through community efforts they devised their own unique celebration. The Aquatic Procession was followed by a sports programme, fireworks display and a grand Coronation Ball held in the School of Arts building.

The tankard and its association with the river festival highlight the importance and reliance on maritime vessels in the Camden Haven area. With the river serving as the Main Street, boats and droghers acted as trucks and cars that would have appeared in street processions held in other places. It is interesting that whilst most of the vessels used were commercial or working boats, the community took the time to ensure they were ‘dressed’ for the occasion.

Holding the river procession also suggests the community felt strong links to their British ancestry and the monarchy and a high level of excitement and affection for the incoming Queen.

This tankard evidences the ingenuity of the small fishing village of Laurieton and its community in creating a unique and meaningful event to celebrate the coronation the British Monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Using what they knew best and with imagination and some clever decoration, Laurieton’s people and their fishing boats became known around the country through the Cinesound news reporting of their Coronation day aquatic procession.

Phillip Bowman and Peter Baron
10 October 2014

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