A VILLAGE near Uttoxeter with long-standing royal connections will be taking part in a special tradition to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Draycott in the Clay has a history of lighting beacons to celebrate significant royal events, and did so on Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Day in 1953 and for her Silver Jubilee in 1977.
That tradition has been kept alive in 2012 and after the national beacon is lit by her Majesty the Queen on Monday it will start a chain reaction of beacons being lit across the country including in Draycott between 10 and 10.30pm.
East Staffordshire Borough Councillor Robert Hardwick, who represents the Crown Ward, told the Advertiser: “The Duchy of Lancaster Estates, which is owned by the Queen, has a considerable land holding in my ward with many tenants in farms, small holdings and cottages.
“Beacons used to be organised by the estate with brash (small branches) cut off by the foresters during the forestry process being bundled together to form faggots which were then used to build the beacons.” Villager David Jeffery was part of the team that put the 1977 Silver Jubilee beacon together and his uncle Harry Jeffery, a Duchy of Lancaster forester, can be seen on the photograph commemorating the event at the top of the beacon.
He said: “We loaded hay carts full of bundled brash from Parson’s Brake Wood and brought them to Lathbury’s Hill where villagers built the beacon manually hauling the brash bundles up ladders.” The links between the area and the Queen were cemented in 1957 when the young Elizabeth visited the Duchy of Lancaster wood yard at Six Roads End in Draycott.
The wood yard and its forestry workers are a thing of the past but Richard Lawley and his daughter Caroline are determined to keep the traditions going.
They have organised the Diamond Jubilee Beacon on Lathbury’s Hill land which Mr Lawley and his father Jack before him have farmed for many years.
Mr Lawley is no stranger to beacon building but gone are the days of building it out of bundles of brash on ladders.
The Diamond Jubilee beacon has been built out of pallets with telescopic handlers with loose brash draped around the beacon.
Limited by the reach of the telescopic handler and health and safety the beacon is not as tall as previous beacons but Mr Lawley is positive it will burn bright enough to be seen for miles around.
He said: “I was determined we should keep this tradition alive. At first it was daunting with all the red tape you have to deal with, but it has come together with the help of local businesses, farmers and of a course the willing hand of villagers.
“Lathbury’s Hill is a great vantage point and we should be able to see several other beacons when they are lit on June 4.” Other beacons being lit in the Uttoxeter area include those in Kingstone, Alton, at Rocester playing fields, Quarry Bank in Hollington, the Millennium Green in Hixon and in Somersal Herbert.