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The day The Queen visited Knowle West

Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

Knowle West residents and organisations have been paying tribute following the announcement of the death of Her Majesty The Queen on September 8 at the age of 96.

Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest serving monarch after 70 years on the throne and came to Bristol several times during her reign.

The Queen visiting Bristol for her Silver Jubilee tour in 1977. Picture George Gallop, courtesy of KWMC.

Royal visits during the 70s and 80s have been recorded by former Knowle West resident and Evening Post photographer, the late George Gallop  

His archive donated to Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) is available to view at http://shorturl.at/jOX56

Many residents may also remember how in 2005 The Queen visited The Park Centre in Daventry Road.

Two members of staff at the time write about the experience.

When Her Majesty came to The Park

By Joy Pollard

February 25, 2005, was a very important day for The Park – it was the end of a very busy year leading to a visit from Her Majesty The Queen.

There was a real air of excitement on the morning of the visit, the whole place was filled with police and plain clothes officers. Final touches were put in place for the big arrival.

The young people we worked with at the time were all convinced that we were making it up and “no way was the Queen coming here” and they all went off to their classes with their minds made up.

Her Majesty arrived at 10am and we started what should have been a one-hour visit – that lasted two hours.

Her Majesty The Queen being shown round The Park Centre by Joy Pollard.

The Queen showed a real interest in everything that she saw – but showed a particular interest in the young people attending The Park education.  

All the disbelievers were really choked to see her and spoke freely about the reasons they were attending The Park and what they wanted to do from there.

The whole staff were involved on the day which was really nice for us all.

Her Majesty sat and watched a dance performance and a short performance  by the BPAC Drama Group before entering the back courtyard – where the whole of Connaught School were waiting for her complete with flags and banners.

After signing a visitors book, we then proceeded to the café area where she met and spoke to many of our tenants at the time and also members of the local community.

After we had a few words, we shook hands and she was escorted by the police to see the crowds that had gathered in the carpark.

On a personal note, this day will stay with me for the rest of my life.  She was a very lovely lady and very easy to talk to. I was very proud to have been an integral part of the day.

RIP Your Majesty from The Park Centre

The Queen’s Visit

By Clive Harry

“No one who shared in that special day will ever forget the privilege and honour of meeting her…”

Her Majesty came to visit us in February 2005 … two weeks after my hip replacement!

We had known for quite a while that there would be a Royal dropping by. The bombshell of who was dropped only a week or so before. Everyone was sworn to secrecy with the public announcement.

The morning arrived and the carpark was packed with small children with small flags. 

The purple Bentley swept in through the gates and we cheered. From nowhere appeared half a dozen large muscular men with hands inside their jackets. Their eyes were everywhere.

The lady stepped out radiating that incomparable smile, impeccable green outfit, dazzling diamond broach and fur hat.

With the various introductions, it was clear that informality was the order of the day. Hands were shaken and the chat began. I’d asked Joy our beloved receptionist to take on the chaperone role. They clearly warmed to each other and spent the next hour in relaxed conversation like old friends.

The Park is a large site and the route planned took in multiple projects involving local people. It seemed that every single one wanted to share their story with her and The Queen was more than willing to listen and respond. She knew somehow exactly the right words in every case.

Much of our work at that time was providing opportunities for very challenging teenagers. Before the visit they had made it clear that they had no intention of being good. In reality they were angels of respect and politeness, completely melted by Her Majesty’s aura.

Though I could not have been more proud and delighted in one way, I had resolved to do the tour without a stick and my hip was agony as the grimaces in various photos will testify.

Clive with his granddaughter meeting The Queen.

Several amusing incidents come to mind. I had previously arranged that my son and his daughter aged 18 months would be with the Childcare students on the tour. As we arrived in their room I picked up my granddaughter. 

We were standing right alongside The Queen, and me being substantially taller, the toddler was exactly at the level of the royal hat, which of course she took for a dog or a cat and reached out to stroke. A quick change of arms prevented the unimaginably embarrassing.

On to the catering course where some boys were making madeleine sponge cakes. The Queen stopped to advise one young man that her mother had taught her that the way to make the coconut stick was to use plenty of jam!  He took the hint and in later years went on to become a chef. No doubt he remembers the moment still.

The Queen stopping to talk to one of the catering students.

Near the end, the Performing Arts group had prepared an energetic and exciting dance. The hall was set as a theatre and The Queen was shown to a front row seat. There was a really awkward moment when she didn’t sit down. The seats being of the tilting cinema type, protocol demanded that it would be held down in readiness… An aide realised the breach and quickly sprang to action. Her Majesty sat down and clearly relished the performance – even clapped.

Coming to the end, I had arranged for my mother, aunt and pals from the Keynsham Women’s Guild to be near the exit. There was no chance that mother would let the visitor pass without making it clear that her son ran The Park. With admirable determination she attracted The Queen’s attention and delivered exactly that message. Her Majesty replied that she had greatly enjoyed the visit at which mother positively glowed…. 

Back out to the cheering and flag waving multitudes and then the Bentley was gone.

No one who shared in that special day will ever forget the privilege and honour of meeting her.

View the highlights of the visit in the film by Don Jenkins: HM Queen Elizabeth II visits The Park Centre

Pictures of The Park Centre visit courtesy of The Park and Clive Harry.