A series of never before published pictures of Queen Elizabeth II on her first state visit to Northern Ireland just after the Coronation in 1953 has been unearthed by the UK City of Culture’s BT Portrait of a City project.
The images were taken by Royal Naval photographer Raymond White on the Queen’s arrival at Lisahally Docks in July 1953. He was the only photographer present and the photographs have never been seen by the public.
The images have been digitised and now form part of the BT Portrait of a City project.
Kirsty Osborn of the BT Portrait of a City team said the photographs were a hugely valuable addition to the archive.
“We have been presented with so many amazing images, but to uncover photographs of the Queen visiting the city which had never been seen by anyone other than the photographer and his family is just incredible.
“We are extremely grateful to Raymond White for contacting us and donating his amazing pictures to the archive.”
Queen Elizabeth II made a three-day trip to Northern Ireland in July 1953 following her Coronation at Westminster Abbey on 2 June.
The final stretch of that journey took her to the port of Lisahally where she boarded the HMS Rocket for a 30-minute trip up the River Foyle into the centre of the city.
Raymond White’s pictures capture the Queen as she disembarked from the train onto a platform especially built for the occasion.
The photographs have remained in Mr White’s private collection for 60 years and have not been seen by the public until he offered them to the BT Portrait of a City project.
“When I took the photo of the Queen standing right in front of me I remember thinking, ‘I wonder what I’ve got’. You don’t know. You take the picture and until it is developed you can’t say,” he recalled.
“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 17 and a half minutes wait until I could see it, I went through hell.
“The pictures were never published and never seen by the public. I kept them all in an album at home. What Derry has with these pictures now is something that will remain in history.”
Culture Company chairman Martin Bradley said: “These wonderful images are a treasure trove for lovers of history and paint a picture of a bygone era in our city.”
To see more of Raymond’s pictures of the Royal visit turn to page 28