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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Jubilee street party: Live webcast
A glimpse of Jubilee Crescent from 1977
Hundreds of street parties will be taking place round the UK to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. But one party in a Kent town has a certain historical reputation to live up to this page nearer the time for more.


  Click here to watch the webcast

This year there was going to be just one street party in Jubilee Crescent, Gravesend.

For the few of the remaining residents who lived in the street in 1977, that would be something of a novel experience.

For at the Queen's Silver Jubilee, Jubilee Crescent had two competing parties - one for each end of the street - "the top end" and "the bottom end".

Bernard Clark
Bernard Clark reporting for Nationwide
The twin parties were not simply a coincidence - the two ends of the street did not exactly get on with each other, as accusations flew around of one end being snobs.

Newspapers gleefully stoked the row at the time, and the division was even recorded by the 1970s current affairs programme, Nationwide.


Although the two ends of the street managed to patch things up in time for the arrival of the television cameras, some foul work was still at play as an unknown saboteur went up the entire length of the street, from top to bottom, cutting the bunting down.

Committee 1
The organising committee from the bottom end of the road...
Most of the 1977 residents have now moved on or died, but some remain. One, Marian Friend, who was 14 at the time of the 1977 party, remembers it well.

"We had a really good DJ. I remember all the flags going out, and my mum wearing red, white and blue. It was really good - I don't know if this year's party is going to be as good, but we're going to have a go."

The rivalry did not make much of a lasting impression on Marian, whose mother - also called Marian - was one of the organisers in 1977.
Committee 2
...and the committee from the top end

But it left enough of a memory that she decided early on that there was going to be none of that nonsense this time round. She went knocking on doors up and down the street weeks ago to ensure everyone was on board.

"Everyone's going to wear fancy dress, and the mayor's coming. There's going to be a balloonist, and a caricaturist, and sports on a nearby field before everyone comes back to the street for the disco and fireworks," she says.

Mother and daughter
Marian and Marian Friend, 2002-style
Somewhat incongruously there was also going to be a busload of Page Three girls turning up, courtesy of a national newspaper.

Marian senior is the first to say how much things have changed in the past 25 years. Not only have most of the 1977 residents gone, so has any lasting rivalry. And also - more sadly - has the ready sense of community which characterised the Silver Jubilee party.

"Things definitely used to be more neighbourly," she says. "We used to have our doors open, people would come in for a cup of tea. Today you hardly know people, it's very different. But hopefully this party will help people get to know each other and bring back some of that old feeling."

Paper plates, 1977-style
The task of arranging a party has also changed, she says.

"There's much more to do nowadays than what there was. Everything's got to be arranged officially, and has got to be exactly right. Back then we just did it.

"And I think people look for more today to be entertained. Years ago people were quite happy with the atmosphere."


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Nationwide reports from Gravesend (1977)
Bernard Clark reports for Nationwide

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