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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Jubilee Crescent comes out to party
Eating out
A great British tradition has been revived

It is a scene being repeated across the country during this Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend.

Jelly
What street party would be complete without jelly?

Tables and chairs are being set out along the middle of the road, beneath Union Jacks and bunting.

Children in fancy dress are tucking into sandwiches, sausage rolls, jelly and trifle.

The great British tradition of the street party has been revived to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.

Finest details

Here in the Kent town of Gravesend, one of the most lively celebrations is taking place in the appropriately named Jubilee Crescent.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1977, the street made headlines because it was the scene of two parties... one at either end of the street.

Musicians in the front garden
The Front Yard Birds?

There was talk of bad feeling between the "top end" and the "bottom end".

Today there is a single party and no sign of friction. The organisers diplomatically blame the split of 1977 on "a bit of a mix-up".

No-one could fault the 2002 committee for lack of organisation - they have spent five months planning this event down to the smallest detail.

The only threat to this street party was the weather. But despite a grey sky and some ominous clouds, the rain held off and 130 children had their open-air party.

'Mucking in'

"The community spirit is absolutely wonderful," said organiser Diane Hamilton, as she passed out plates of food to hungry youngsters.

"Everyone has mucked in together. When we put up the bunting everyone came out and joined in. The atmosphere has been beautiful."

Miss Jubilee Crescent
Crowning Miss Jubilee Crescent

Diane lived here when the Silver Jubilee took place in 1977. There may not be quite so many street parties this time round, she says, but Jubilee Crescent has upheld the tradition.

"I remember the Silver Jubilee and I want the children here today to remember the Golden Jubilee."

Community spirit

Alongside the Union Jacks draped on the walls of many of the houses is the flag of St George. Most of the local residents watched the England-Sweden game, but are they downhearted?

Well, not today, because they are determined to enjoy the party.

"The coincidence of the Jubilee and the football is extraordinary," said the leader of Gravesham Borough Council, Rosemary Leadley, when she stopped by.

Brian and Mary Swanson
Pearly king and queen for the day

"I think it has triggered a community spirit, and I think it is interesting that the most activity is in the least affluent areas."

Among Jubilee Crescent's residents enjoying the celebrations are Brian and Mary Swanson, who are dressed up in the costumes of a pearly king and queen.

They moved into the street in 1977, just in time for the Silver Jubilee. They are delighted by the success of the Golden Jubilee party.

"This shows how much people think of the Queen... the spirit is coming back," said Mary.

"This is brilliant," agreed Brian. "Our children went to the Silver Jubilee party, and now are grandchildren are here for this one."

Childhood memories

Among civic leaders who joined in the fun was the Mayor of Gravesham, Narinderjit Singh Thandi, who was pleased to see so many young people enjoying themselves.

Mayor of Gravesham Narinderjit Singh Thandi
Mayor Thandi (top) with fancy dressers

"This is a great thing for the younger generation," he said. "It is something they will always remember."

And there was agreement on the positive benefits of the festivities from Javed Elahi, the chairman of the Westcourt Residents' Association, who helped to raise money for the event.

"These street parties help to bring people together and bring about more understanding," he said.

"It is wonderful to see the community together and the happiness on the faces of the children."


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03 Jun 02 | Entertainment
03 Jun 02 | England
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