I'm sure that you will join with me in
congratulating our secretary Marion on her marriage to Leo Allen at Fishlake on
the 24th. May 1997. We wish them every happiness for their future life together.
On Saturday the 6th September your society was to go on an excursion to Nottingham but owing to the tragic death of Diana Princess of Wales this had to be postponed, and new arrangements are as follows. There is now to be a Christmas Shopping Trip to Nottingham and for this we are to meet at The New Masons' Arms, Doncaster Road, Mexborough on Saturday 29th November and the coach fare for this excursion will be £6 per person. There will also be extras for those who wish, such as a tour of the Caves, for this there is an extra fee but it should not exceed £3, and our Chair Mrs. Joyce Thompson is also to get in contact with the Nottingham Tourists Information Bureau to see what additional Christmas activities will be taking place in the city for us to attend. Please see Mrs. Joyce Thompson for further details.
In May I received our copy of the "Yorkshire Quarterly" magazine and articles in it consisted of "The Railway Shanty towns at Ribblehead" by K.C. Jackson, "T.E. Lawrence: From Arabia to Bridlington" by Peter J. Gray, "Yorkshire Trolley Buses" by Colin Allan, "Wentworth Woodhouse" by Diana Parsons, "Hengest - A Forgotten National Hero" by Chris Webster M.A., "Abbydale Industrial Hamlet" by Janet Peatman, "Monastic Wool Trade" by Bryan Waites, and finally "Mediaeval Grave Slabs From The Yorkshire Wolds" by John R. Earnshaw, F.T.S.A. Of these two are relevant to the history of Mexborough and District these being, "Hengest - A Forgotten National Hero" and "Yorkshire Trolley Buses", the first refers to the battle which took place on Stratford Sands and Mexborough Ings the area now known as "The Pastures" and tells of the battle which took place there between Hengest and
Aurelius Ambrosias. Yorkshire Trolley Buses tells us when Mexborough and Swinton Tramways first started to operate its Tracklesses (Trolley Buses) and also tells us when the last one ran in this country on a commercial basis.
Diana Princess of Wales
If beauty be only skin deep then on 31st August 1997 the most beautiful woman in the world died in a tragic road accident in a tunnel in Paris.
Princess Di came to our area on a few occasions but the time which many of us seem to remember the most was four years ago when she opened the Rockingham College Training Annex at Barnsley Road, Wath - Upon - Dearne and visited the Family Centre now known as "The Station House Community Centre" at Thurnscoe. Although it was the middle of February and she had dressed in a purple woollen suit against the cold weather, that day was fine, she milled around the hundreds of people in the crowd who chanted "we want Diana" shaking hands and talking to people, that afternoon she chatted about her own experiences in the playgroup
where she worked prior to her marriage to Prince Charles. It was also on that day that a small girl who had not been able to give Princess Diana a gift of a badge ran crying after the Royal car, and on seeing her the Princess had the car stopped and then opened the car door to talk to her and to accept the gift. It was little things like that which endeared her to people not just in this area but to the country and the world as a whole.
At this point I would like to share with you some notes taken from a personal diary I made concerning activities leading up to and including the funeral of Princess Diana, and tell how some of these events affected the people of this area personally, and also so they may be recorded for posterity.
Sunday 31st August
Just as most people seem to know where they were and what they were doing when they heard of the death of President Kennedy so I will never forget putting on the T.V. this morning and hearing of the tragic death of Diana Princess of Wales, my automatic reaction was "Oh! those poor boys". We were told that while trying to escape from the attentions of the media that the car she was travelling in with her friend Dodi Al Fayed had hit a parapet in a tunnel in Paris.
Prince Charles and the Princess' two sister went to Paris to bring the Princess' body home by a plane of the Queen's Flight, it landed at R.A.F. Northolt 20hrs after her death and draped in the Royal Standard was carried to a waiting hearse by members of The Queen's Colour Squadron of the R.A.F.
The Earl Spencer has appeared on British television from the gates of his home in South Africa condemning the media for its incessant hounding of his sister.
This was the last day of the Vintage Weekend staged at The Elsecar Heritage Centre and we are putting on an exhibition there, I manned it on Saturday but today it is the turn of Gary Barker, and Fred and Vera Moxon and I have been told by them that a special service was held for Princess Diana, and such was the feeling of many in the congregation that some were in tears.
Monday 1st September
This should have been a happy day as it was my birthday, but it was overshadowed by evens. When Churchill died I was a young woman and I can remember the papers and television at the time saying that Britain was a country in mourning but this makes all that look like nothing.
People were beginning to bring tributes of flowers,gifts and cards to the Palaces of Buckingham and Kensington and at the gates of Kensington Palace these were already six deep, there was also a few books of condolence opened there
We were told that the Princess was to be buried alongside her father in the parish church which she attended as a child in a small village close to Althorp House which is the Spencer family home.
Tuesday 2nd September
There was talk of a Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund being set up to benefit the charities of which the Princess was patron.
Wednesday 3rd September
People have begun to queue outside Kensington Palace to make sure they have a good position from which to pay their last respects at the funeral on Saturday.
Thursday 4th September
The queue to sign the books of condolence at Kensington Palace is now vast going from the palace to Traffalger Square, and the length of time people are waiting is estimated at 12 hours, other books have been opened around the country two in this area at Doncaster and Sheffield and here there are huge queues to sign them. All our churches and cathedrals are open where prayers are being offered and candles lit, and some of these places will be having memorial services for those who cannot get to London for the funeral. As to the funeral itself it is reported that the London Police are trying to accommodate 2 million people in the few streets of London down which the funeral cortege will pass, but an estimate of 8 million are to be brought to London for the funeral via coach and train. This is of course too many for the streets of London to safely cope with so to take the pressure off these streets the route has been extended and the north bound lanes of the M.1 motorway will be closed so that more people may be accommodated at intervals along the way as the funeral cortege makes its slow way up the motorway to the village of Althorp.
The press and some people have criticising the Royal Family for staying at Balmoral but there is a property on the estate which is inaccessible to vehicles where the two princes may go to be allowed to grieve in peace without the eyes of the worlds press upon them.
The press are also telling us that the driver of Princess Diana's car was drunk. They are also saying that if the Princess and Dodi had been wearing seat belts then they would not have been killed, but one person has said that on the night of the accident the press had been hounding the couple to the point where when they left The Ritz Hotel they had to sit the Princess on the floor of the car between the back and front seats for her own protection.
It has also been revealed that the press prevented the emergency services from helping the Princess as they wanted to take photographers of her dying in the car.
We have been told today that so many people including press have descended on the small village where she is to be buried that the village cannot cope with the vast amounts of people, and so Princess Diana's family have announced that she is not to be buried in the small church there, but a tomb is to be built for her on an island in the middle of a lake on the Althorp Estate, where she can lay in peace and her family can come to see her without the worlds cameras forever watching them.
Tonight something very strange happened on the railway line which passes through Mexborough. It all started at teatime when a friend of mine passing over Denaby Railway Crossing in the direction of Mexborough was followed by a police car, and after passing over the railway crossings the police car swerved to block it, my friend then saw two police motorbikes coming towards him at speed which did the same thing. Then a while later a police helicopter with a searchlight was seen flying slowly and very low down the track. Some of us wandered if members of the Royal Family were travelling down from Balmoral by train to London.
Friday 5th September
Mother Teresa of Calcutta died, the nun who dedicated her life to helping the poor of India.
The news tells us that to date £30 million pounds has been spent in this country alone on flowers for the Princess and there is now not a bloom to be bought in the country so they are having to import them, and there are so many at Kensington Palace that passengers in planes flying over the palace can see them from above. People who are generally put on the job of packing vegetables and other such types of food have been taken off these jobs to pack flowers, this has had repercussions as there is now a shortage of such foods and when I went to Mexborough Market this afternoon to buy veg. for the weekend there was hardly any to be had and some stalls and even grocers shops had closed early because of this.
This morning a book of condolence was opened at the Mexborough Spiritualist Church on Bank Street and as I got there early I did not have to wait to sign it, but this afternoon as I returned home I noticed that there was quite a lengthy queue growing and a number of bunches of flowers could now be seen around the doorway.
Princess Diana had lain in her coffin at St James' Palace since she was brought back to Britain on Sunday evening, and on the teatime news we were told that she was to be moved to Kensington Palace where the funeral cortege will commence tomorrow morning, and from 6p.m. when it was first announced on the news to 8p.m. when this was done thousands of people crowded the streets along the route, and on the corner where the road turns into Kensington Palace you could not see the hearse for a sea of heads, it has been estimated that at this point there was 50,000 people plus another 50,000 around Buckingham Palace.
Saturday 6th. September
I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said that Britain is closed today in order to show its respects to Princess Diana, there isn't one shop, bank or business which is open in Mexborough, the High Street is deserted, and there are neither cars or people on the outlaying streets, not even playing children. The main airports are closed the buses and trains which were running early this morning now too seem to have disappeared and the main artery roads of this country are bereft of vehicles, there is a deathly hush everywhere as though every human being on the planet has suddenly disappeared.
The funeral cortege left Kensington Palace where the crowds were 15 deep at 9:10a.m. with the coffin bearing the body of the Princess of Wales carried on a gun carriage, some women cried hysterically at first but then there was silence as the carriage pulled by six back horses and followed on foot by The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, The Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles made its sombre way to Westminster Abbey with the muffled sound of the mighty abbey's terror bell in the background. At the abbey mourners from every walk of life waited inside, mourners as diverse as the Royal Family, and the Spencer Family, politicians such as Tony Blair, William Hague, Lord Archer, and Paddy Ashdown, there were also well known names from the acting and show business world such as Elton John, Lord Attenborough, Michael Barrymore, Shirley Basset' Richard Branson, Michael Caine, Jose Carreras, Tom Conti, Tom Cruise, Placido Domingo, Tom Hanks, Dame Thora Hird, Diana Ross, Esther Rantzen, and Steven Spielberg. The music chosen was as diverse as the mourners as they walked down the aisle to music made famous by the Hovis advertisement on T.V. The coffin was carried into the abbey by members of the Welsh Guard and at 11a.m. prompt the service began, and it was as follows:- the Princess' favourite hymns "I vow to thee my Country", a poem read by Lady Sarah McCorquodale Diana's sister, Lynn Dawson then sung an aria, followed by another poem this time read by Princess Diana's other sister Lady Jane
Faith, Hope, and Charity was read from the Bible by P.M. Tony Blair, Elton John then sang his song "Candle in the Wind" (Good bye England's Rose), a tribute to Diana Princess of Wales was then read out by her brother The Earl Spencer, there was then another hymn "Make Me A Chattel Of Your Peace", prayers were then given by The Archbishop of Canterbury, after which "Danny Boy' was sung by the choir, and the "Lord's Prayer lead by The Archbishop of Canterbury, other prayers were then given by two other ministers from other denominations, the Welsh Anthem was then sung. Then finally a song was sung to music writen by John Taverner as the coffin was turned around by the pallbearers, and then carried towards the doors where they stood as a minutes silence was observed followed by a full peel of the half muffled bells of Westminster Abbey as the coffin draped in the Royal Standard was placed into the hearse which was to take her to Althorp. At Horse Guard's Parade people lining the route began to toss flowers in the path of the hearse or put them on its roof, so much so that by the time the hearse reached the junction with the M.1 motorway the driver had to stop the hearse in order to remove some of the flowers from the windscreen as they were preventing him from seeing through it, and it was at this junction that a white dove of peace was released. Even here the people lining the route of the funeral cortege did not cease as every bridge and junction was covered in people throwing flowers onto and in front of the hearse. The Princes William and Harry with their father, also members of the Spencer Family travelled to Althorp by train and then from the station they went to Althorp House the Northamptonshire home of the Spencer Family, and there the Princess was buried in private on her island positioned so the glow of the rising sun would be on her feet.
Saturday 13th September
Today Elton John's tribute to Diana Princess of Wales "Candle in the Wind '97" (Good Bye England's Rose) was released and by lunch time we knew it was No. 1. At 8a.m. this morning a friend of mine went to Woolworth's Mexborough branch in order to purchase a copy, but found that even at this early stage there was a queue stretching down the High Street, after she had waited a while stokes of the record ran out and she had to wait until further stocks were received, which again ran out well before lunch time. At teatime we heard that in its first day of release the record had sold 1 million copies, all the profits of which including the tax are to go to the charities supported by The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
What will be the repercussions of the death of Diana Princess of Wales? Only time will tell, but let us all hope that her death was not in vain. May she rest in peace.
Copyright: This newsletter may no be reproduced fully or in part without the permission of J.R. Ashby.