At the Morecambe Jubilee Street Party
It is possibly the longest and possibly the shortest street party in Britain. On the promenade of the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe, locals and visitors brave the wind and rain to break a world record. And once they perceive their job is done, they go home to watch the Queen on TV.
As visitors take posh afternoon tea in the art deco Midland Hotel, they watch as the real party takes place on the prom outside. More than 1.5 miles of rain spattered wooden tables stretching from Aldi, past the pier and the statue of Eric Morecambe to the old lifeboat station.
A very British scene
Tables covered in every form of union jack memorabilia known to Morecambe; flags, paper plates, cake stands, china tea pots; this is a very British tea party.
It’s also cheerful carnage as people attempt to hold on to their drinks as their balloons fly away, their pompom wigs swell with rain and their umbrellas threaten to turn inside out.
Tea, songs and cake
“What shall we sing next?” says a lady in a pink crown who stands proudly at the head of her table while the rest of her party huddle under umbrellas. The Cowboy Line Dancing club shuffles into the wind, as the local WI members try to give cakes away to passing people, who peer from hoods with party hats strung over the top.
“Please take some of these, they’re getting soggy,” say Louise and Sarah, pressing home made sweets into our hands. As long term Morecambe residents they are proud to be part of this Jubilee celebration. “Lived here all our lives,” they grin. “And this is brilliant, everyone coming together like this. If you try some of our chocolate battenberg sweets you’ll make us very happy.”
Could it be a world record street party?
A woman blowing a hooter stops the police car that’s crawling along the prom behind Scooby Doo. “We won, we won the record,” she screams into their half open window. But Abigail Fawcett, who works for the Town Council is more cautious in her assessment. “It’s borderline. We don’t know yet. We’re still waiting for the result. There’s another town in Britain also going for the record.”
The council were expecting up to three thousand people to turn up to the world record street party attempt but this isn’t really the story of a record. It’s a story of British character and stoicism. For a moment in time, no one single person here is willing to let the rain and the wind defeat their tribute to The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Sixty minutes of wind swept street party celebrating sixty years of service.
It’s certainly mad enough
With painted faces, they drink champagne, eat barbecued burgers and munch on cupcakes as the rain beats onto the arms of their picnic chairs. The Queen of Hearts carries on with her very own Mad Hatter’s tea party.
A patriotic pirate has another sausage roll, and even Eric Morecambe himself joins in; despite being half strangled by the string of flags around his neck.
And then, almost as soon as it’s got going, it’s all over. By 2pm, the tables are emptying, and by ten past, volunteers are starting to disassemble the line.
Over so quickly
All that remains are some very happy gulls, swooping down to devour the remains of a cheese sandwich. Oh and a few cupcakes to polish off.
If you turned up an hour after the party had begun, you’d wonder if anyone had bothered to show up at all, let alone if they broke the record.
Do you have that stoic spirit? We’d love to hear about your experiences of partying against the elements.