hover your mouse over a product to view more information
Photos runner recalls coronation (For CORONATION package) By Laura Elston, Press Association Court ReporterA photographer’s runner who witnessed the Queen’s Coronation while perched high up on scaffolding inside Westminster Abbey described the day as "awe-inspiring". Alex Falk was just 16 and working for the Press Association on Coronation Day 60 years ago.
It was his job on June 2, 1953, to assist the photographers during the ceremony and afterwards make his way as quickly as he could back to Fleet Street from the Abbey, carrying a satchel full of precious 5x4 inch double dark slides to be processed. Mr Falk, now 76, recalled: "It was a very, very long day with a lot of fun and tension. On the scaffolding, we were looking down the aisle towards the entrance."
"We had to be there at some crazy time in the morning and had to take our own food. Once we were up there, we couldn’t come down when the service had started. " He added: "There was no toilet either. There was a bucket up on the scaffolding. It was quite funny."
Describing the Coronation, he said: "It was all very elaborate and noisy, very noisy, in terms of the music, and it was very brightly-coloured."
Mr Falk, who runs independent camera shop Mr Cad in 12 Upper Tachbrook Street, London added: "For a young lad it was very, very impressive."
"It was overwhelming because it was very awe-inspiring. People from all over the world were there."
"London was heaving. I had never seen anything like it. It was packed - every inch."
But he was too caught up in his job to spend time watching the new Queen process through the Abbey in her regalia on her way to be crowned.
Mr Falk said: "We were all too busy feeding film to the photographers. We had all these cameras set up. It was very quick - ‘Do this, do that’."
He described the day as bringing a "phenomenal boost" to the nation and the Queen’s coronation as a "changing of the guards", but said it was only when he was older that the historical significance of the day struck him. Mr Falk added: "It was a changing of the guards, but as a youngster that didn’t matter. More important was the fact that we were involved in it."
"We came home knackered afterwards and you tended when you grew up to realise it had a feeling of uniqueness and importance."
Mr Falk recalled how he planned out the 1.5-mile route from the Abbey to Fleet Street in advance to get there as quickly as he could, but admitted he did not run the entire way. He added: "You’ll get me into trouble! I think it was a question of running, walking and a bit of idling back down Fleet Street."
Describing how the images of the Coronation were produced in the pre-digital era, he said: "It was very fast but slow compared to today. Bear in mind, processing was done by hand and there was no timer - just a guy counting one, two, three, four, five. It was manual in those days and very different."
The dark room was frantically busy as the images of the elaborate religious service were processed, ready to be dispatched.
"It was the busiest time ever for a dark room. Everybody wanted the prints," Mr Falk said.
Some prints from the UK were sent abroad to Canada and Australia, and processed on board planes during the flights.
Browse our categories below:
Enter your postcode to get directions to our door.
We should be your first and your only Photo Store to visit.
If you cannot find what you are looking for on our website then please ask us! Either use the link below to send us an email or give us a call.
Alex, Sharon, David, Peter & David