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A visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1961

As part of our next exhibition ‘The Ipcress Style’ with costumes from the recent TV series The Ipcress File set in the 1960s, we’ll also have a small display of Rugby items from this era. Whilst researching this display we came across this photograph of the clocktower in Market Place taken on the 5 July 1961.

 The clocktower is decorated with garlands and flags. At its base a brass band is playing. In the background are the Lawrence Sheriff almshouses (which were imminently due for demolition) and crowds are gathering along the edge of the road. The occasion was a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The main event of the day was the formal opening of the new Town Hall and Benn Hall buildings. We have other documents in the museum’s social history collection which record the timetable for the day. She arrived by helicopter at the recreation ground on Hillmorton Road and had a tour of AEI industries in the morning. She left the factory at midday for the Town Hall opening ceremony. Afterwards, she had a tour of the building and met members of the Council (for ladies, hats and gloves had to be worn).  This was followed by a luncheon which included Fillet de sole Meuniere and Caneton Bordelaise. In the afternoon there was a visit to Rugby School before her departure at 4.30pm. The timetable includes the different routes the Queen Mother toured of the town centre which included North Street and Church Street so she would’ve seen the clocktower adorned for her visit. 

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