My earliest memory goes right back to 4 June 1977. My third birthday. Right in the middle of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
I was on a bus with my Mum and Dad, proudly sporting a third birthday badge. The bus conductor spotted it. He stopped the bus and left it idling next to a bakery on Stockport Road in Ashton, which he ran into. He emerged smiling, and delivered me a cupcake decorated with red, white, and blue icing.
I tell this story, both because it explains my lifelong love of cakes, but also because it says a lot about the importance of the Jubilee. 45 years on, I am still struck by the generous spirit that accompanies these moments of national celebration. It’s a celebration that Manchester has played a huge part in, notably hosting the Commonwealth Games back in 2002 during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
On the Platinum Jubilee we commemorate the extraordinary achievement of 70 years on the throne, but also recognise how much has changed in that time.
It’s not just the world that’s changed, so too has Tameside. There wasn’t even a place called ‘Tameside’ in 1952 – that invention came twenty years later in the 1972 Local Government Act, and was born in 1974, the same year as me. The Charter of Incorporation as a Borough – a kind of birth certificate – with the Queen’s now sadly faded signature still holds pride of place in the Mayor’s parlour.
Back in 1952, many of Tameside’s towns were tiny places. Haughton Green was still a village separated from a much smaller Denton by open fields. There were no motorways. Likewise, Audenshaw was much smaller than today, before many of the new housing estates were built. Denton and Dukinfield boomed with industry. Denton, a hatting town; Dukinfield firmly in the cotton trade, with significant manufacturing and engineering works too, shipping goods all over what was still then the Empire.
We live in a different world now, one defined by progress, but also by new challenges.
When the Queen ascended to the throne in 1952, social media giants and cyber technology seemed a million miles away. How we interact has changed, as has the role of Government in a new digital age.
It’s also important to note that the Platinum Jubilee comes amid a cost of living crisis, as well as expanding inequalities. Just as the world has changed, so it must change again; becoming fairer and more prosperous.
That’s why I love the Jubilee. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our United Kingdom, to recognise how much we have achieved, and to remind ourselves to continue to work towards a brighter future.