Belfast Telegraph

Royal snaps unseen for 60 years: pictures emerge of young Queen's Coronation Tour of Derry

BY DONNA DEENEY

They capture a moment of history – the early days of a young queen's reign.

These previously unseen photographs of a young Elizabeth on her first visit to Northern Ireland as monarch are to go on show to the public for the first time.

The images – which feature the royal guest's arrival at Lisahally Docks, Londonderry, in July 1953 as part of her Coronation visit to the province – were unearthed by the UK City of Culture's BT Portrait of a City project.

The Queen spent three days in Northern Ireland following her Coronation at Westminster Abbey. She visited Belfast, Lisburn and Ballymena before ending her visit with a rail tour of the north coast.

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

Raymond White was there to record the historic visit.

The pictures have remained in his private collection for 60 years and have not been seen in public until he offered them to the BT project.

He recalled: "When I took the photo of the Queen standing right in front of me I remember thinking, 'I wonder what I've got'. 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 wait I went through hell. The pictures were never published. I kept them all in an album at home.

"What Derry has with these pictures now is something that will remain in history."

Mr White's photographs have been digitised and form part of the project to create the largest digital archive ever assembled from one city.

Spokeswoman Kirsty Osborn said: "We have been presented with so many amazing images, but to uncover photographs of the Queen visiting the city which had never been seen is just incredible. These images will form a very important part of the overall digital archive, painting a picture of the city's past in a way that has never been done before."

Culture Company chairman Martin Bradley added: "These images are a treasure trove for lovers of history and paint a picture of a bygone era."

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