Today marks the 96th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and to celebrate, the Echo has looked back at her visit to Southampton in 1974.

Her Majesty's trip on December 6 was a packed one, although the highlight for many locals would have been when she went for a stroll on the Civic Centre forecourt, stopping to chat with people along the way.

The Queen, who had travelled the 400-yard uphill journey from the station to the Civic Centre in her maroon Rolls Royce, walked from West Marlands Road past dense crowds to the forecourt. 

Along the way she asked Marjorie Harvey Mason of Devonshire Road, Southampton, and her friend Nancy Bailey of Durley, if they lived locally and said they must have been waiting for some time by the barriers. 

Another picked out of the crowd by the Queen was Laura Mitchell of Wolseley Road, Freemantle, Southampton, who was also asked if she lived in the area.

Earlier that day, the royal train came into Southampton Central at 12.50pm where the Queen was met by city and county leaders. 

Crowds on the platform cheered as the Queen, dressed in a cream valour coat edged with fur, a brown and beige fur hat, and brown accessories, alighted.

The Queen came to Southampton from Havant where she spent part of the morning touring the computer centre of manufacturing plant IBM. 

The Duke of Edinburgh had arrived at Southampton Airport the day before – he and the Queen were spending part of the weekend at the home of the Queen's uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma at Broadlands, Romsey.

At the Civic Centre, the Queen walked upstairs to the mayoral suite through a guard of honour from the School of Navigation, Warsash.

In the mayor's reception room, Her Majesty signed the visitors' book.

Daily Echo: The Queen arrives at Southampton Central Station for a short tour of Southampton and to open the first stage of the Southampton Teaching Hospital. This picture shows the queen meeting the public at the Civic Centre. Dec 6, 2010. THE SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO

After lunch she returned to the reception room to meet young winners of the mayor's Christmas card competition and see an exhibition of entries.

Eight-year-old Alison Locke of Warren Avenue, Shirley, who was the overall winner, presented a copy of her entry, a shepherd and a sheep on a purple background, to the Queen. Six hundred copies of the design were made for the mayor to send as Christmas cards.

Afterwards, Allison admitted: "I was a bit scared – I've forgotten what the Queen said to me when I gave her the card."

"Very realistic" was the Queen's comment to 11-year-old Nina Lucas of Luccombe Place, Southampton, who won first prize in the middle schools' group. 

Twelve-year-old Salma Jan Jeevangee, of Bellemoor Road, Shirley, described how she had researched library reference books for her entry – a picture of the Mayflower at Southampton, which won third prize.

After overstaying the scheduled time for her visit by about 10 minutes, the Queen left the Civic Centre at 3pm for the General Hospital.

The Queen's official opening of the first phase of Southampton teaching hospital was the first time a Southampton hospital had been visited by a reigning monarch. 

The hospital visit overran for half an hour, but the Queen was anxious that none of the crowded programmes should be cut.

Daily Echo: The Queen arrives at Southampton Central Station for a short tour of Southampton and to open the first stage of the Southampton Teaching Hospital. This picture shows the Queen opening the Southampton teaching Hospital. Dec 6, 2010. THE SOUTHERN DAILY

The opening ceremony in the South Academic Block at Southampton General Hospital took longer than planned. 

But it was on the tour of the hospital's new East Wing, where the Queen visited the children's department and an adult ward to chat to patients and staff, that the carefully timed schedule went out of the window.

Before unveiling a commemorative plaque the Queen said she was looking forward to seeing the hospital.

"I understand that it was only four and a half years ago that the foundation stone of the new teaching hospital was laid and three years before that when the intention to set up a medical school in Southampton was announced," she said.

"I suppose the most difficult part of the operation here was to keep the existing General Hospital functioning throughout the construction period.

"This must have posed unusual problems for architects, builders and project planners who are also to be complimented on achieving their ends with minimal disruption to the patients and staff."

The Dean of the Medical School, Professor Donald Acheson, thanking the Queen, said:  "We must strive to see that within this mighty complex, with all its technological sophistication, no remediable suffering is unrelieved and no unnecessary suffering caused; no anxiety unallayed; no ignorance unremedied; no bereavement uncomforted; that, above all, the hospital is known to be a place of friendliness and caring where all that can be done is done. In dignity and privacy."

Daily Echo: The Queen at Southampton General Hospital. December 6, 1974..

Before looking at the new East Wing, the Queen stopped to have a quick look at one of the residential blocks on the top floor of the East Wing which housed the children's department. 

Nine-year-old Gary Cannon of Chapel Road, West End, was due to go home the day before but he did not want to miss the Queen, so he was allowed to stay for an extra night. But when the Queen came round, he was too shy to speak.

Finally, at about 3.15pm, the Queen left for Broadlands where she was joining the Duke of Edinburgh for the weekend.

They returned to London early the next day.

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