IF HISTORY had been different, Hillingdon would now be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a right royal name.
As the borough puts out the bunting to enjoy the historic occasion, former councillor Charlie Key has revealed how he wanted to commemorate the Queen’s accession to the throne – by naming the new local government district Queensborough when it came into being in 1965.
Mr Key served on Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District Council from 1962 and as a Hillingdon councillor until the early 1980s – and was made a freeman of the borough in 1991.
Hillingdon was created when the new London councils were formed when the district merged with the Municipal Borough of Uxbridge and the urban districts of Hayes and Harlington, and Ruislip-Northwood.
But back then, it still needed a name – which was eventually chosen after much debate between the merging councils.
Mr Key had an idea. “The Queen was on tour in Kenya with Prince Philip when her father, King George VI, died,” he said. “In 1952, she left the country a princess, and came back Queen of England.
“The first steps Her Majesty took in this country as Queen were at Heathrow Airport, where she was welcomed by Winston Churchill and other dignitaries.
“There is a picture of her stepping off the plane in the mayor’s office at the civic centre.”
Thirteen years later, the new borough was being formed.
“All of the areas were asked to put forward names, and I suggested Queensborough because of that unique moment in the area’s history,” Mr Key added.
“It is something the borough should be proud of.”
Mr Key, 87, lives in West Drayton with his wife of 65 years, Doris.
He is now president of Yiewsley and West Drayton Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association, which holds quarterly lunches and arranges special outings for its elderly members. This year is his 50th with the group.
On Wednesday last week he celebrated this anniversary at a special lunch in Yiewsley and West Drayton Community Centre to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. More than 60 members were treated to a meal plus entertainment from John Lightfoot.
l Bunting at the ready – the borough gears up for jubilee weekend. See pages 3, 8&9.