THE Queen’s first appearance in the North-East as monarch was in October 1954 when she visited Newcastle, Sunderland and Chester-le-Street. On June 4, 1956, she made it to the Tees Valley for the first time.

When her train arrived at Stockton station, it was claimed that she was the first reigning monarch in peacetime to visit Teesside since the 13th Century.

And Teesside responded.

“Clambering onto balconies and parapets – any vantage point they could find – and packing the streets about the station forecourt in a dense crowd, the excited vanguard of more than a quarter of a million people saw the royal couple on a 19 mile route,” claimed the Echo’s sister paper, the Evening Despatch.

As on practically every one of Her Majesty’s visits to the North-East, it was a chilly day tending towards rain.

“It was a welcome of flowers that dull, grey Teesside provided,” said the Despatch. “The iron and steel towns had burst into blossom. At Stockton station, vast banks of hydrangeas greeted the Queen and the Duke, and at Stockton town hall another 2,000 hydrangeas flown over from Holland banked the dull red wall colour and the hall was decorated with rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs, fuchsias and a gay mass of other plants.”

As the Queen drove to the town hall, the Despatch’s photographer managed to get an extraordinary picture from the balcony showing England’s widest high street lined with people as the convoy of Rolls Royces approached.

On a dais outside the town hall various dignitaries and plenipotentiaries were presented to the Queen, but she had specifically asked for one ordinary nurse to be among her guests.

Step forward Staff Nurse Margaret Buckle, newly-qualified and chosen by random from the ranks of nurses at the Stockton and Thornaby Hospital. Great play was made of Margaret’s involvement in the day: “Nurse meets Her Majesty. Included in reception at Royal request”, was the Despatch’s headline.

In 2012, the Echo told of Margaret’s big moment – and, by then 77, she got in touch. "It was a big honour for me and for the hospital," she said. "I was very nervous. I had been practising my curtsey and I had to wear white gloves to shake the Queen's hand. She didn't speak to me, but Prince Philip did, asking about my job.

"They'd also chosen an older nurse to meet the Queen that day. She was the matron of the nursing home where I was born in Stockton, and my mother remembered that she was the sister who had delivered me."

Margaret became a theatre sister at Bensham Hospital, Gateshead, before marrying a geologist and emigrating to Australia for three years in the Sixties. She had been back in Norton since 1983.

From the town hall, the Queen drove to Stockton racecourse to inspect more troops and meet more children – every child present that day is believed to have been presented with a commemorative mug and toothbrush.

“White-overalled bakers stood on a garlanded waggon to see the procession go by, a small group of Roman Catholic sisters each waved a Union Jack, and the travelling ice cream man, not to be out done, had made a brave show of red, white and blue ribbons on his van,” said the Echo.

As the royal party headed towards Middlesbrough, the drizzle turned into a torrent, and the hood of the car was hurriedly put over Her Majesty. At the town hall, she and the Duke briefly ventured onto the balcony to wave at the crowd before they were off again, this time to ICI Wilton where they were shown the new synthetic wonder material: Terylene.

“With a sailor’s eye, the Duke singled out a racing dinghy in which the sails and cordage are 100 per cent Terylene,” said the Echo. "The Duke wanted to know how their Terylene sails stood up to wear,” said the boat's owner, Mr G Farrington of Leeds.”

The final stop of the day was at Dorman Long’s Lackenby steelworks. Dorman Long had laid on a 31-coach train, said to be the longest Teesside had ever seen, to bring its employees from Middlesbrough to see the Queen.

“The industrial might of Teesside was aptly symbolised by the tapping of a 360 ton furnace at Dorman Long's Lackenby steelworks, one of several such furnaces there which are the biggest of their kind in Europe,” said the Echo. “The Queen and the Duke watched the operation with intense interest, and despite unavoidable dust in the air, paused at several points to talk to the workers manning the furnaces.”

Having braved the dusty air around the steelworks, the royal couple were taken to the fresh air of Teesport where they were piped aboard the royal yacht Britannia so they could set sail for their next event in Scandinavia.

“It was a beautiful evening, of blue skies and white clouds,” concluded the Echo. “With the aircraft of coastal command flying overhead and the line of Tees tugs following the Britannia at a more leisurely pace, the scene was a fitting conclusion to a happy visit and a prelude to another to come in Sweden.”