THE BEST of Ledbury was on show last weekend, for an event that is sure to go down in the annals of the town’s long history.
More than 5,000 thronged the town centre to take part in the ox roast celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.
And more than 1,000 lucky ticket holders formed an orderly queue for taste of the much-vaunted ox.
The town held an ox roast celebration in 1953 to celebrate the Coronation.
Among those making a return appearance was veteran resident Dolly Tow, aged 92, whose late husband Jack made a film ofthe event.
She was Ledbury's Queen for the day as she arrived in style in the company of town MP Bill Wiggin and Ledbury’s mayor Terry Widdows.
She got proceedings under way by making a speech from the main stage in front ofthe crowd.
She said: “Sixty years ago we celebrated the occasion by roasting anox and enjoyingaspectacular carnival.
“My late husband Jack Tow, made a film, recording all the events of that day, and it has since been made into a video and a DVD, a copy of which is in the possession of Queen Elizabeth.
“Today we are celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s diamond jubilee by once again having an ox here in the centre of Ledbury and it gives me great pleasure to declare that this ox roast is now open and ready for tasting!”
Ox roast committee spokeswoman Jan Long said: “It is quite a thing to stand up on the stage at 92 and make a speech in front of so many people.
“But she said she was having a special, amazing day, and she loved it.”
Ms Long said many residents who had attended the 1953 event thought this one was even better.
Among those was Robert Barnes, pictured, who as a young lad in 1953, managed to crawl under the legs of the masses to claim two ox sandwiches. Sixty years later he was proudly clutching two more.
Mayor Terry Widdows said: “To see the town decorated and bustling with people was a vision that will stay with me for many a year to come and I feel very proud as the Mayor of Ledbury to witness such an occasion.
“This is the true spirit of Ledbury and that’s what makes this town such a wonderful place to live in and creates the wonderful sense of community.”
Mrs Long said various Ledbury residents thought this ox roast was better than the 1953 event.
She said: “in St Katherine’s Car park vendors pitched their sites in readiness to sell food, drink and local crafts as part of the festival activities.
“The cider and beer area had a stage made up to resemble the iconic Market House and bands played to entertain those sampling locally produced drinks.
“Adding to excitement was the arrival of two fire engines and the local brigade force erected bunting across the streets decorating the town in fluttering red white and blue flags.”
She added: “There were already crowds in the streets as town crier, Bill the Bell Turberfield, was transported on the Weston’s Cider Dray and rang his bell to signify the official opening of the day’s events at 10am.
“On stage the community choir sang and the brass band played, church bells were ringing adding to the rising sense of excitement. The vintage car parade attracted loud applause and followed by Charles Martell’s coach and four groomed horses that were greeted by cheers.”
After Mrs Tow declared the ox roast“ready for tasting” a queue formed to receive their “beef in a bap”, carved by Ledbury’s own master butchers, Dave Waller, James Llandinabo, Paul Gurney and Stephen Wheeler.
Mrs Long added: “The Ox Roast day had exceeded all expectations and the question posed to committee members was “Can we do it again next year?”