THOUSANDS turned out for one of the most widely-enjoyed Royal visits Dorset has ever seen.

The Queen, who turned 89 yesterday, spent a busy day visiting Poole and Bournemouth in 1979.

See all the pictures of the Queen's visit to Dorset in 1979 in a gallery 

But the visit started in the early hours of that Friday, March 23, when the Royal train stopped at sidings just west of Wareham.

The train’s arrival, at 12.59am, was watched by 14 people and a dog, the Evening Echo reported the next day.

A few railway enthusiasts had got wind of the visit and had waited since 10.45pm in sub-zero temperatures. None of them saw the Royals, but several notebooks recorded the number of the diesel locomotive – 47 539.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Poole at 10am in gloriously sunny weather.

The Evening Echo noted that the Queen was wearing a red wool, knee-length, single-breasted coat, black boots and a black velvet hat with red ribbon trimming.

Poole station master Jack Hurley, 65, welcomed the Queen and Prince Philip. He was set to retire the following month after 48 years on the railway.

The Royal couple were taken by car to Poole Arts Centre, which had opened to the public the previous year. A crowd waved Union flags and four trumpets sounded a fanfare as the monarch arrived.

As the centre’s Whitecliff Bar opened at 10.30am, the Duke of Edinburgh said: “Don’t let us interfere with your refreshments, just carry on!”

Among the crowds was Florence Hunt, 89, of Woodbury Avenue, Strouden Park, who had waited an hour to glimpse the monarch.

“The Queen looked lovely. It’s a pity she went in so quickly but it was worth it,” she said.

“I don’t suppose I’ll ever have the chance to see her again.”

Victoria, Clare and Toby Golding, aged 12, eight and six, of Kitchener Crescent on Waterloo Estate, had been up at 6am to get their front row position.

Jean Fairey, of Dorchester Road, Oakdale, was among the Arts Centre staff who had been up all night preparing the venue. Her job included vacuuming the red carpet.

Other onlookers included three babies dressed in red, white and blue – Charles Jowett, Keith Tyler and Paul Hopkins.

Robbie Morrison, of Kingland Road, had skipped school for the occasion. “The school banned us from coming. But I have really been looking forward to it. I’ll just have to take a note in on Monday,” he said.

The Queen and the Duke listened to Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rehearsing under conductor Arthur Davison. The Royals were then driven to Poole Quay for a visit to Poole Pottery.

The Queen spoke to Celia Campbell, of Warren Walk, Ferndown, chatting about the weather and accepting flowers from Mrs Campbell’s five-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

Nurses Marey Marcell and Pearl Haig, from Poole Hospital, gave the Queen a posy and reminded her that she had opened the hospital on her last visit to the town, in 1969.

David Duvalle, of Oakdale, ran up to the Queen to present her with someone else’s flowers. “A baby girl next to me in the crowd said she hadn’t got the guts to go up to her and give her a small bunch of flowers that she had made, so I grabbed them and did it for her. I wasn’t a bit scared,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tracey Sullivan, of Wimborne Road, Oakdale, was helped over the barrier by the Duke of Edinburgh to meet the couple. And Samantha Brown, of Sylvan First School, gave the Queen a special card she made.

The Royals were 20 minutes late by the time they reached Dorset Institute of Higher Education at Wallisdown.

There, Victoria Baldwin, aged six, broke through a barrier and past police to give the Queen a bunch of snowdrops.

“I picked my flowers this morning just in case I was near enough to give them to her. It was lovely to see the Queen. She is very pretty,” she said.

Jennifer Luke, of Highlands Crescent, Kinson, was waiting with daughter Emma, four, and Stephen, six. “You never know, this might be our only chance to ever see the Queen,” she said.

Student Tim Rilley, 19, said: “People say students don’t care much for the Royal family but we do.” The afternoon saw the Royal couple touring Bournemouth Central Police Station on Madeira Road.

At the Lansdowne, a group of students from Anglo Continental School of English waved a banner saying: “Venezuelan students welcome the Queen.”

Before leaving, the Queen asked Bournemouth’s mayor, Cllr Frank Beale, to “pass on my thanks to the people of Bournemouth for their warm welcome”.

Dorset’s Lord Lieutenant, Sir Joseph Weld, said the next day that the Royal couple’s visit had been “fabulous”.

He added: “I think they really were enjoying themselves, and all the flowers that were given to them were taken back with the Queen to London, every one, and I think the ones they cannot use go to hospitals.

“I know from past experience the Queen would never refuse a bouquet.”