IT was a day when Dorset got good value from its monarch.

Forty years ago this weekend, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent a day packed with engagements in Poole and Bournemouth.

They took in Poole railway station, Poole Arts Centre, the Quay and Poole Pottery, Dorset Institute of Higher Education and Bournemouth police station.

Along the way, thousands took the opportunity to see in person the 52-year-old monarch whose silver jubilee they had celebrated less than two years earlier.

The visit began quietly at 12.59am on Friday, March 23, when the Royal train stopped overnight in railway sidings just west of Wareham, according to the Echo that day. It was watched by 143 railway enthusiasts (who noted the engine number, 47 539) and a dog.

The train arrived in Poole at 10am in sunny weather, where the Royals were greeted by station master Jack Hurley – who was to retire the next month after 48 years.

The Queen and Prince Philip were then taken by car to officially open Poole Arts Centre – now Lighthouse—which had been operating since the previous year.

Among the crowds outside were Robbie Morrison, of Kingland Road, who had skipped school. “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 the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rehearsing under conductor Arthur Davison, before being driven to Poole Quay to visit Poole Pottery.

Her Majesty chatted about the weather to Celia Campbell of Ferndown and chatted to Mrs Campbell’s five-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

She also received a posy from nurses Marey Marcell and Pearl Haig, who reminded the monarch of the day she opened Poole General Hospital a decade earlier.

From there, it was on to Wallisdown and the Dorset Institute of Higher Education – now Bournemouth University.

There, they ate a three-course meal food prepared by students on the Higher National Diploma course in catering.

Student Julia Fetherstone said of the Queen: “She smiled a lot and was very sweet to everyone. I suppose more than anything, we were impressed to see that she ate everything we served. It’s a compliment to the cooking, I think.”

Six-year-old Victoria Baldwin managed to get past the police to hand the Queen a bunch of snowdrops she had picked that morning.

After visiting the college, the Royals went to Bournemouth Central Police station on Madeira Road to see the latest technology in the control room. There was a walkabout at the Lansdowne, where students from nearby Anglo continental School of English waved a banner saying “Venezuelan students welcome the Queen”.

And before leaving, the Queen asked Bournemouth’s mayor, Cllr Frank Beale – of the Beales department store family – to pass on her thanks for the welcome.

As well as Echo pictures from the time, the photos on these pages include previously unpublished colour shots by Echo readers Nicholas James, David Collins and Mr L Cluett.