Former Mayor fondly remembers the Queen’s visit to Blackburn

Published Saturday 17 September 2022 at 11:05

We have been very fortunate in Blackburn to have Her Majesty The Queen, visit many times. Although many remember her 2014 trip to Blackburn Cathedral when she visited to hand out Maundy Money.

Former Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Cllr Sylvia Liddle, has precious memories of Her Majesty’s visit in the 1980s. This is now also commemorated in tapestry.

I met Her Majesty when she visited Blackburn in November 1987 to open the Queen’s Wing at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School.

I was Mayor at the time and I remember unable to sleep the night before. Although I was excited, I was also nervous because I wanted to make sure that I did our Borough proud.

I remember learning all fourteen names and titles of the dignitaries I had to introduce and in strict protocol order! I need not have worried; Her Majesty was so gracious when meeting us all, as was the Duke of Edinburgh.

Despite the typical northern weather, crowds in the town were all out to greet the royals. At the end of their visit, I also escorted the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the Royal train and waved farewell from the platform.

It all went very well and it is of course an event that we discuss as a family often, with some beautiful memories to cherish.

The Mayoress at the time was Sylvia’s daughter Suzanne, who at just 16 years of age had to get special permission from the education authorities to get the day off school.

Cllr Liddle has many photo albums from her time as Mayor and of the photos of the Royal visit are amongst her prized possessions. Imagine her surprise then, to receive a phone call telling her that one of those photos was now art!

Blackburn artist Jamie Holman has used an archived photo of Sylvia meeting Queen Elizabeth II and immortalised it in tapestry form.

Sylvia’s image is on display at Blackburn Cathedral as part of ‘The Lancashire Tapestry’ artwork, that is 18 metres long. The design also incorporates other images of the Queen’s visit to the area during her 70-year reign.

She adds:

When I found out I was featured on Jamie Holman’s tapestry to mark the Queen’s jubilee, I felt completely honoured. It was a wonderful surprise.

Upon visiting it, I thought that the Blackburn artist had created a stunningly apt piece of work. How skilful to show the memories of 70 years by creating a tapestry woven in Lancashire. To add our history of cotton, weaving and mills and then ‘interweave’ 70 local voices is a special experience.

Even though it was created for a happy occasion, I do feel that due to Her Majesty’s passing there is a poignancy which now surrounds it, marking the end of an age of our history.

I hope it has helped those coming to sign books of condolence or visiting the cathedral for a moment of reflection. It sits in a horseshoe shape which of course I’m sure due to her love of horses would have met Her Majesty’s approval.

The tapestry is available to view at Blackburn Cathedral until the end of the year. For current opening times, please check the Cathedral website and social media.

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