By John Baron
As the country mourns the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, WLD remembers a gloriously sunny 26 July 1949 when a 22-year-old Princess Elizabeth visited Pudsey, as part of a tour around Yorkshire.
The reason for her 1949 visit actually lies some 21 years earlier and the first official Royal visit to Pudsey on April 24, 1928 by the young Duke and Duchess of York, later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
They opened the children’s play park in Pudsey Park (the park itself had originally been opened in 1889). They also laid the foundation stone for Pudsey Baths. Apparently the town was decorated with bunting and flags, with the occupiers of houses and public buildings vying with one another with fantastic displays to honour the special guests who were visiting Pudsey Town Hall.
The young Princess Elizabeth would have been aged just two at the time and didn’t take the journey to Yorkshire. The Duke of York promised to return to Pudsey, but sadly never fulfilled that promise as his health deteriorated.
Three years before his death – aged just 56 – Princess Elizabeth honoured her father’s promise to return to Pudsey and was accompanied by Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who she had married two years earlier.
According to the MyPudsey website, they helped to plant two trees in Pudsey Park: an Acer Negunda Variegated Maple, and a Catalpa Syringifolia.
The Princess praised the friendliness of the people of Pudsey. She was quoted in newspaper reports at the time as telling the crowd: “We shall each plant a tree to commemorate our visit this afternoon and we hope they will flourish as they should in such a loyal Borough”.
The visit also coincided with the anniversary of the Borough of Pudsey’s 50th year of the Charter of incorporation.