It is early summer in 1953, and the friends and neighbours of Magnolia Square are looking forward to celebrating the Coronation. The war has become a memory; the future seems rosy. Kate Emmerson looks on with pride at her growing family, including Matthew, whose father was killed during the war. But Matthew's wealthy relations have never really forgiven Kate for marrying Leon, a West Indian who works as a Thames lighterman, and when Matthew runs away from his smart boarding school in Somerset the tensions which exist between the two families come to a head.
Meanwhile Zac, the wonderfully talented and handsome new signing at the local boxing club, is being eyed hopefully by all the young women of Magnolia Square. But he has eyes for only one woman - Carrie Collins, who has teenage children of her own and whose husband, Danny, seems more interested in the boxing club and his market stall than in her.
In the weeks leading up to the Coronation festivities, drama and tragedy threaten to haunt Magnolia Square, but by the time the great day dawns, the bells ring out in celebration as the Londoners enjoy themselves as only they know how.