In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip briefly visited the Sutherland Shire on 11 February during their Australian visit.

Flags and banner line the Princes Highway at Sylvania to celebrate the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Shire, 1954

The royal couple arrived in Sydney aboard the Gothic on Wednesday, 3 February, as the First Field Regiment fired 21-gun salute from North Head, and thousands cheered.

Sutherland Shire President Arthur Harper and his wife were present when Governor-General William Slim, NSW Governor John Northcott, Prime Minister Robert Menzies and Premier Joseph Cahill greeted the Queen and Prince Philip when they landed at Farm Cove.

Councillor Harper said, “We were allotted seats in the official Local Government section, where we witnessed this really magnificent and historical spectacle.”

Meanwhile, the Sutherland Shire Council had passed a resolution of loyalty.

“That on the occasion of the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, this Council, on behalf of the 60,000 of the people in the Sutherland Shire, on the foreshores which Captain James Cook, the discoverer of Australia, first landed and raised the British flag, desire to express our sincere and loyal welcome to our most gracious Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and trust that they may be long spared to reign over us.”

Sutherland and several businesses including, the Post Office and Council Chambers were decorated with flags and bunting to celebrate this unique occasion.

Two magnificent arches were erected at Sylvania and in Lady Rawson Drive.

An estimated 20,000 people assembled on both sides of the “beautifully decorated” Princes Highway to witness the Royal Couple as they travelled to Wollongong, despite the overcast weather, on 11 February. Approximately 18,000 school children also cheered and waved flags making it one of the largest crowds ever seen in Sutherland.

Source: State Records NSW
Source: State Records NSW

The Queen and the Duke stood on the rear observation platform as they returned from Wollongong by train that afternoon, thousands waited at railway stations from Helensburgh to Como.

Witnesses described it as “a glorious sight”, watching the royal couple waving to the crowd, as the train passed through a colourfully-decorated Sutherland Station.

Former Councillor Edward Seymour Shaw was invested as a member of the Order of the British Empire (civil division) for services to local government the following Saturday, 6 February, at Government House.

Sources

David R Kirkby, First Fifty Years of the Sutherland Shire Council 1906-1956, Pages 387-772

The Sentinel

  • Excited Spectators Cheer Royal Train During Shire Visit (18 February 1954)

The District News

  • Huge Crowd Greets Queen in Sutherland (15 February 1954)

Sutherland Cronulla  Advertising Medium (SCAM)

  • The Royal Tour: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (13 February 1954)

The St George & Sutherland Shire Leader

  • Second Shire President passes away (1 July 1964)
  • Seymour Shaw: One of Shire’s pioneers (24 April 1968)

 

Royal motorcade, Princes Highway Engadine, with people lining the road during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Australia, 1954
Royal train passes through Engadine Railway Station, Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Australia, 1954

This article was written to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee was originally published on 15 August 2012 on the 2ssr997fm blog, which has now been deleted, and later reposted on the Carolyn M Cash blog.

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