2:00pm Saturday 8th June 2013
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. It differed from previous coronations as the new television era enabled millions of people to watch the ceremony in their own homes or the homes of their friends. Deputy editor Lindsey Moore looks back on how Craven marked the occasion.
Craven shared the national enthusiasm for Coronation Day – with celebrations across the district.
However some had to be curtailed or postponed because of heavy rain and high winds.
Skipton started the day with a peal of bells from 9am to 10am – and among the bellringers was Miss M Evans – the first lady to ring at a coronation since the Holy Trinity Belfry had been in use.
There were church services at Holy Trinity and Christ Church, with the rest of the morning and afternoon reserved for televised broadcasts of the ceremony.
“Life in Craven virtually stood still,” said the Herald. “Never in recent times had Skipton High Street looked so deserted during daylight hours.”
Houses with televisions bulged at the seams as residents crammed in to watch the coronation and, in many cases, the owners offered “quite lavish” hospitality.
Three television sets were installed in Skipton Town Hall for residents who were aged 65 or over.
“The majority of visitors were elderly rather than very old, although some limped in the hall on sticks and crutches,” reported the paper. “Without exception, they showed an eager but quiet concentration. There was hardly any fidgeting. The old folk were thrilled by everything they saw. Reception could not have been better. The images were sharp and clear. There was scarcely a flicker on the screen. The commentary by Mr Richard Dimbleby and his colleagues on the processional route bore the same stamp of perfection.
“The grace, dignity and composure of the young Queen made a deep impression on everyone. Brought into bold relief were the solemnity, beauty and refined pageantry of the Coronation.”
Communal television sets were also installed at Skipton General Hospital, the town’s Raikeswood Hospital and Cawder Ghyll Maternity Hospital.
In the evening, a Coronation procession took place from Westmoreland Street to Aireville Park – in a heavy rainstorm.
“Some thought the parade should be cancelled because of the unfavourable weather, but the more patriotic insisted that the coronation celebrations would not be completed with the customary procession,” said the Herald, which won the Chamber of Trade competition for the best window display.
Elsewhere in Craven, communities organised other celebrations.
“Driving through the Dales, one saw innumerable flags flying from farmhouses,” said one reporter. “They looked forlorn sometimes, soaked by the rain, yet each one represented the loyalty of those inside. The rain was defied as, cheerfully, people carried on regardless of the inclement weather.”
Appletreewick celebrated by laying the cornerstone of an extension to the village institute.
At the preceding service, the rector of Burnsall, the Rev HE Brighton, called for more patriotism.
Up the river in Burnsall, a new 65ft maypole – cut from a tree in the local wood – was erected on the village green and free tea was laid out in the village hall.
In Grassington, the narrow streets were “gaily” decorated, arches were made from evergreen plants and children took part in an afternoon of sport.
There was great enthusiasm in Airton where a fancy dress parade made its way through the village, with one little girl dressed as a miniature Queen Elizabeth I.
The rain put a premature end to rejoicings in Hellifield, with organisers deciding the weather was too bad to stage the planned sports evening. Gargrave too had to amend its celebrations, scaling down its procession which had been expected to be one of the most colourful in the area.
Coronation souvenirs were presented to Bolton Abbey children, many of whom took part in a fancy dress parade with colourful and varied costumes.
“The cold wind must have caused the Indian Water Carrier, the Hula Dancing Girl and the Sheik to long for their habitual sunshine, although it did not seem to trouble the Penguin and Everest climber,” joked the Herald.
Hebden residents crowded into the Reading Room, where a television had been set up by Mr JH Herd. Afterwards villagers ploughed on with their other celebrations, which included village sports, a meat and salad tea, a fancy dress parade and an evening of entertainment.
In Littondale, TV star Freddy Grisewood judged the decorations and awarded the prize for the best decorated house to Mr and Mrs F Webster, of Hazelhead Farm, Hawkswick.
Across in South Craven, the start of Bradley’s fancy dress parade was delayed because the parish councillors who were to lead the parade could not be found.
Eventually they turned up and the parade – which included Coronation Queen Hazel Bradley and gala queen Muriel Fryers – made its way through the streets.
The twin villages of Kildwick and Farnhill continued their tradition of entering national celebrations with enthusiasm.
Practically every house had made some show and the whole of Farnhill, from top to bottom, was festooned with streamers. “It was generally agreed by older residents that the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II had brought out more street decorations than on previous occasions,” said the Herald.
In contrast, Carleton took a while to get going.
“It was perhaps rather slow in putting up its decorations, but parishioners soon made up for lost time and by Coronation Eve, the village was quite transformed and for attractive decoration could compete with any village in the surrounding district,” added the paper.
Embsay staged an historical pageant, headed by four boys representing the patron saints of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The heavy rain meant the country dancing display, due to take place around the Elm Tree, had to be moved into the village institute.
In West Craven, the new Victory Park was opened in Barnoldswick – and the event saw the town’s biggest-ever procession, which stretched from the top of Park Road to Manchester Road.
For the first time in their history, Earby councillors attended a civic service at the town’s Roman Catholic Church and heard Father O’Grady say the country was lucky to have a gracious and Christian lady at its head.
Settle folk pledged “loyal and sincere devotion” to the Queen and expressed a wish that her Majesty be “spared in health and happiness to rule in peace and tranquillity”.
The town had been beautifully decorated, with the Shambles looking particularly picturesque. “Never had this ancient market town been so gaily decorated, everyone having co-operated in a memorable occasion,” said the Herald.
Elsewhere in North Craven, Giggleswick held a coronation parade, headed by coronation queen Patricia Marklew, the scattered village of Rathmell united for a free television show, service and presentation of commemorative spoons, Burton-in-Lonsdale went “gay” with an impressive parade and Stainforth residents indulged in some Maypole dancing.
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