Burger, balloons, a mile or so of bunting and a mountain of home baking.
Games for the kids, even dafter ones for the grown-ups and quiet shady corners for the street’s older residents to sit and chat about the old days...
One Sheffield street got ahead of the jubilee game and turned out in red, white and blue for a diamond day last weekend.
Residents of Banner Cross Road were out in force for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. But mostly, it was out of community spirit rather than patriotic pride; hence the reason it was more important to fit the date of the party around the requirements of the modern family than the Royal one.
“We thought we’d have it early so parents could go away for the half-term holiday,” explains Surriya Falconer, a resident for 22 years.
The sun is blazing, the ‘odds’ have made all the savoury food and the ‘evens’ the sweets – and virtually every house on the street has happily tipped up £10 for a kitty run by organisers Liz Ruddy and Katie Patmore, who came up with the idea and got council permission to close the road.
Brian Turner from No 19 is wondering if any ‘do’ can be as good as 1977’s, when they turned the house at No 45 into a bar with ‘proper barrelled beer’ and brought a piano out for the Silver Jubilee.
“We wheeled it up the street, played it all night then smashed it up at the end,” chuckles the man thought to be the earliest resident.
The Queen had been on the throne six years when he and pregnant wife Dorothy moved here in 1958. “The house was ridiculously over-priced at £1,950. The mortgage was £10-8s-11d a month and my draftsman’s wage at Spear and Jackson was £13 a week,” remembers Brian, a widower for five years.
Daughter Jill, who now lives in France, remembers that first street party rather more differently: “I was a stroppy 18-year-old. It was really uncool to be at a jubilee party. I’m 53 now and I can see how fabulous it is for the community.”
She’s back for the day with her two brothers, “It brings people who rarely get the time to say hello together in a really happy environment.”
On this street, neighbours who live just bricks and mortar apart have found that street parties cement friendships and a sense of belonging. This is their third, the second being for the wedding of Charles and Di in ‘81. Now, as then, folk who have never known of each other’s existence, despite living under each other’s noses, are meeting and greeting.
Resplendent in a floral sundress, Faye Smith, who lives at no 48 with her two children, is chatting to Maggie Parr, an English teacher from No 65. The two women, Pimms in hand, have never even clapped eyes on each other before.
Dad of two Gary Lafferty from No 1, who loves local history and has prepared a Banner Cross Road quiz for later, says: “I’ve lived here for 17 years and knew just six people. I’ve met eight more already today. I think the country is losing its neighbourliness. Our lives have changed so much since these houses were built; people work longer hours and get into cars within seconds of leaving the house. But parties like this give us a chance to build relationships with the people we live among.”
* This long, leafy road of proud and tall semis was built on hopes and dreams.
Affluent cutlery and steel industry managers snapped up the first to be built at the top of the road; the 1911 census lists over half of them as employing a servant.
Lifestyles have changed dramatically in the street’s 100-plus years. Today’s occupants are not upper middle class folk with maids on hand but the aspirations of those early occupants – to prosper so they could provide their children with the best start in life – is just as inherent today.
Jean and Norman Cherry have lived at No 37 since 1959 and remember what their first home meant to them. “We had come from deepest, darkest Attercliffe where you couldn’t see daylight for the smog,” says Jean, 76. “For three years we’d been living with parents in a cramped terraced. When we saw No 37 it was quite decrepit, but it was everything we wanted. It was big, it was on a nice, wide road and it had a garden. It was the perfect place to raise a family.”
It took a long time for children to arrive, though; there were miscarriages and Jean was 36 when she became a mother.
Two more children followed in quick succession. “We were like the young people on this road are today – working hard to do the best for our families.
“Back then all the kids played together while the rest of the street were older and very well established. Now we are the established ones. It goes in circles.”
Houses have been family homes since the early 1900s, apart from No 46. Builder Dean James built the detached nine years ago. He feels it was meant to be. While house numbers go up to No 118, there are 30 properties missing – and No 46 was one of them. It took Dean, 50, a year to build the house for wife Joanne, 47, and son Harry, now 15.
Two years ago the street’s newest occupants, The Bowles family, arrived. It took four years to land a house on their street of dreams.
They had moved up from London and rented while keeping an eye out for properties on the road going up for sale. “We knew we wanted to live here; it’s a lovely street with a real sense of community and, most importantly, children live here,” says Jane Bowles, mother of three.
The Bowles lost two houses in bidding wars but two years ago it was third time lucky. Says David: “It has lived up to our expectations and more.”
* Former West Bar police inspector Mick Young moved into the street back in 1964 with his wife Susan, a nurse. One of their three sons was born in the front bedroom. Mick helped organise the first street party back in 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Susan reckons she’d like to move on and downsize but Mick is holding out: “I love it here,” he says.