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Summer 2016

Beauty Queens of Barrow

To have a Beauty Queen contest in Barrow today would be considered not p.c., but not too far back in time, it was one of the great events of the year: to the girl chosen, it was a great honour. As far as I know it was a yearly event, but when an occasion of national importance occurred it had special significance. In 1937 King George VI was crowned and Marjorie (Madge) Jaques was crowned Barrow-upon-Soar’s Coronation Queen. Her attendants were Emily (Pem) Reeves, Gwen Spence, Louise Ryder and Blanche Clarke. To mark the occasion, there would be a parade of decorated floats starting at Industry Square and ending at Salters Field, now known as King George VI playing field. On the field there would be Tug-of-War contests and skittling for a pig, also many stalls. In the early forties, a young Christie Sharpe (now Clarke) was chosen as the Beauty Queen. She was seventeen or eighteen at the time and remembers well the beautiful bouquet she was presented with and of sitting on her throne on a lorry decorated with flowers as it made its way around the village.

Other Beauty Queens remembered from this era were Hilda Lacey and Joyce Cleaver. The great event of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II saw Elsie Moss crowned as the British Legion Beauty Queen: tall and slim she made an elegant queen, I don’t know when the contest was last held as a village event but I do know that in the seventies, Driver Hosiery, a large employer in the village, held their own Miss Driver contests. The photograph shows Glenis Phillips, the winner in 1971/72, with runners–up Mary Pearson and Ann Hill. Look at the mini-skirts - very much of the time. Mary obviously inherited her mother Blanche’s genes and followed in her footsteps, as Blanche was a runner-up in 1937. The contrast in fashion is startling. If a girl in the thirties or forties had worn a mini-skirt I think she would have been locked up.

Val Gillings