Greenwich Council’s free screening of the King’s coronation was washed out in yesterday’s rain as ticketholders failed to show up in Woolwich town centre.
Just a handful of people braved the weather to sit in deckchairs in General Gordon Square to watch the BBC’s coverage of the ceremony live from Westminster Abbey.
Rather than open the square to all, the council fenced it off and offered free tickets to watch the ceremony. But with drizzle descending over SE18 as the pageantry got under way, most did not show up – with a few passers-by left to stand outside the fence to look across rows of empty seats.
With the pictures coming from a web feed rather than broadcast television, the brave few that stuck it out even had to put up with council staff’s inability to switch the image to full-screen, meaning they could see a web browser around the pictures of the ceremony.
One royal fan told 853: “You couldn’t even hear the sound properly at first until they turned it up.”
The screen has been a fixture of General Gordon Square since 2009, when it was first installed as part of a BBC initiative in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, with Walthamstow the only other London town centre to get one.
Critics have branded it an eyesore, but the screen, which usually plays promos for the council, was refurbished in 2020 at a cost of £123,000, with the town hall saying that it was “a key focal point for Woolwich”.
The council has not publicised any details of street parties in the borough, but coronation-themed events are taking place at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich across the weekend.
Free events include a parade of 450 sea cadets from across the UK on Monday, which is being held as a tribute to the King. The event, in the grounds of the college at 1pm, will also feature the Army Cadet Force, the RAF Air Cadets, the Volunteer Police Cadets, St John Ambulance, the Fire Cadets and scouts.
A shortwave radio station has also been set up in the grounds of the college, giving visitors the opportunity to send coronation messages to thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts across the world. The station has been in operation since Thursday and aims to make 14,000 contacts by the end of the long weekend.
More details of other events at the Old Royal Naval College this weekend are at ornc.org.
Help 853 continue reporting on public interest issues in Greenwich and southeast London – we are the only outlet regularly producing original journalism in the borough, and we can only do it with your funding.
Please join over 100 donors who use Steady, PressPatron or Patreon to give a little towards our costs every month. The money pays the bills, a wage for the editor and pays others to write for the site.
You can also buy the editor a coffee at ko-fi.com. Thank you.