These two photographs of Queens Road adorned with flags, bunting, flower baskets, banners and a Union Jack were taken by well-respected Watford photographer Harry Cull, three years after he relinquished his photographic business at 169 St Albans Road, at a time when money was in short supply, and turned to selling wood, glass, paint and general hardware. But what a reason to bring out his camera again!

Decorations in the town were in celebration of the Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth, the late Queen’s parents. The date was May 12, 1937.

The first photograph at the top of this page of Queens Road, taken from the High Street, shows the Westminster Bank on the left-hand corner, with Boots’ sign just visible across the road.

The next building on the left is the appropriately-named Queen’s Arms public house; the sign advertises Benskins’ Ales and Stout. On the right-hand side of the road, a sign reads Steele’s Open Store; Why Not Select Your Next Club Here?’ And, below, Our Aim is to Satisfy’.

The next shop is a draper, followed by a shop advertising cigarettes and ices, with an advertisement for Cadbury’s above. Palmer’s appears on the rear of the parked van in the distance. Banners across the road read ‘Health and Happiness to Their Majesties’ and ‘All Hail to their Majesties’.

Watford Observer: Queens Road viewed from Derby Road.Queens Road viewed from Derby Road. (Image: Lesley Dunlop)

The second photograph, above, taken from Derby Road, looking towards the High Street, shows the extensive millinery and lingerie business of Francis J. Harding at Broad House, replete with decorative sashes and, above, the coat of arms of George VI. Facing the Derby Road side on the same level, Harding’s placed his head and shoulders portrait.

An odd shop sign next door reads Cassiobury Cigarettes, then there’s Rent-A-Radio (haven’t times changed!). The Watford School of Science, Art and Commerce, though not visible, is beyond. A banner declares: Long May They Reign. Shop after shop on the left-hand side leads the eye to Boots’ impressive dome where the entrance to Atria is now located.

On the right-hand corner is Theodore Greville’s photographic studio, originally built to house Watford’s General Post Office. Below is a sign that reads Public Telephone. By the bus stop is a cycle shop, an Exide battery, cycle and radio supplier and a bus stop.

Beyond is Bevan’s Famous Hat Shop, the National Cash Register Company and, under the extensive sun blinds, Trewins, a popular department store that I remember well. Above Trewins hangs a sign: Long Live Our King and Queen. A Hovis sign is further down the road, followed by a café with a large clock above and a parked van advertising Singer Sewing Machines.

This entire Victorian section of Queens Road has been entirely lost to ‘progressive’ modern retail development. Yes, I know I’m old fashioned, but what a wealth and choice of shops and small businesses thrived there in those early days. I can still see the road with its original buildings and later 20th century shops in my mind’s eye, bustling with shoppers and traffic.

So, with the 1937 celebrations well behind us, we look forward to the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla at Westminster Abbey on May 6. May their reign be happy and peaceful. Enjoy yourselves at this memorable time. God Save the King!