Belfast Telegraph

Photos of Queen for digital archive

Pictures of the Queen making her first visit to Northern Ireland as monarch have been unearthed for a digital archive marking Londonderry's year as city of culture.

Taken just a month after she was crowned at Westminster Abbey, the black and white pictures have never been exhibited and hark back to a different age.

Unlike royal visits to Northern Ireland now, the itinerary was published so the public could plan where to see their new Queen.

The images were taken by Royal Naval photographer Raymond White as the Queen arrived by train at Lisahally docks at Londonderry in July 1953, towards the end of a three-day visit to Ulster.

The Queen, who was 27 at the time, was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh and was photographed inspecting naval servicemen. During her visit, which was part of a larger tour of the Commonwealth, she visited Belfast, Lisburn and Ballymena before ending her trip with a tour of the north coast by rail.

The final stretch of the journey took her to the port of Lisahally where she boarded HMS Rocket for a 30-minute trip up the River Foyle into the centre of Londonderry.

The images show the Queen on board the naval vessel and leaving the train and have been digitised for the BT Portrait of a City project to create a community archive which will tell the story of Londonderry.

The photographs have remained in Mr White's private collection for 60 years and have not been seen by the public until he offered them to the project.

He said: "When I took the photo of the Queen standing right in front of me I remember thinking, 'I wonder what I've got'. You don't know. You take the picture and until it is developed you can't say."

"I had to spend 17 and a half minutes developing it so it wouldn't increase the grain size on the negative and in that 17 and a half minutes wait until I could see it, I went through hell. The pictures were never published and never seen by the public. I kept them all in an album at home. What Derry has with these pictures now is something that will remain in history."

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