Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Visit, March 1954

Strong ties with Great Britain has led to numerous Royal visits to Australia since Prince Alfred toured in 1867-68. In 1901 the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) visited Melbourne to open the first Commonwealth parliament in the Exhibition Building. On April 21, 1927 the local (Darebin)area was visited by the Duke and Duchess of York (Queen Mother) who had come to Australia for the opening of Federal Parliament in Canberra on 9th May 1927. On this occasion, local establishments such as the Northcote Theatre Company and several state schools were used for the live broadcast of the Opening of Parliament by the Duke of York. On their arrival municipal strong posts were established along the royal procession route. Northcote's position was in Victoria Parade, near Smith Street Fitzroy.

The visit that had the greatest local impact was the 1954 visit by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. This was the first time that Australia had been visited by a reigning Monarch. A great deal of local effort was made in preparation for the royal progress down High Street. The Northcote Townhall was decorated with portraits of the Queen and the Duke painted by Council painter Fred Forde. Local business made donations to fund decorations which eventually exceeded the target of 150 pounds. Both the Townhall and Library were illuminated at night and multi-coloured lights were strung up along High Street. The Budget-Leader published a 24 page souvenir edition dedicated the the Royal Tour on February 24,1954. Inside Northcote Town Hall, local traders had assembled a Royal Visit Exhibition which included 22 stands representing local business.

Her Majesty was scheduled to pass down High Street Northcote at 5pm on Thursday 4th of March. The dignitaries waiting to greet her included the Mayor, Mr. R. Inman, the City Manager, Mr. J. Thomson and his wife, the Premier of Victoria Mr. John Cain Snr and Mrs. Cain and Councillor A. Bird and his wife.

The Royal Route ran from Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital via Waterdale Rd, Bell St, Plenty Rd, High St Northcote, Queen's Parade, Smith St, Victoria Parade, Victoria St, Latrobe St and finally to Spencer St Station where she boarded the Royal Train. The Queen was wearing an emerald green coat over a white dress.

The Queen's visit was a privileged first for the area not only on from a historical perspective but also on a social scale. The outstanding success of the Royal Visit Exhibition by local businesses showed what could be achieved with a combination of innovation and enterprise.

Darebin Libraries. (1998) 'A right Royal time; The Queen's 1954 visit', Darebin Libraries Fact sheet. Local History File: Preston Library.

(1954, February 24). Northcote Leader (Melbourne, Vic: 1882 -)

(1954, March 10). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - )

Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen

Pike, Philip W., (1986) The Royal Presence in Australia: official tours of Australia from 1867-1986. Adelaide, S.A. : Royalty Publishing

Swift, William George (1928). The history of Northcote: From its first settlement to a city. Northcote, Vic: Leader Publishing.