RAIN certainly threatened to damp the spirits for the celebrations in Craven on the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, June 2, 1953.

Although the weather picked up for the weekend celebrations, Coronation Day itself was marred by heavy downpours with people sheltering in doorways to watch processions.

It was also a time of change with television setting a ‘new pattern for ancient ceremony’ commented the Craven Herald.

Under the strapline ‘loyal hearts defy the rain’, the Craven Herald reported how crowds of ‘vast dimensions’ had watched the ‘grand and glittering processions’ at in London before and after the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

And, it differed from all other coronations in that the ‘new television era’ meant millions of ‘ordinary’ people could watch it in their own homes, or the houses of their friends.

“The Abbey service and the processions were televised by the BBC, whose arrangements were a triumph for British skill and organising genius,” gushed the Herald.

However, the weather was not kind, even in the capital where ‘frequent heavy showers fell throughout the day and with only occasional bursts of sunshine to relieve the cold air.’

Coronation Day began with the announcement that Mount Everest had been conquered for the first time by Edmund Hillary and Bhotin Tensing, and had ended with the Royal couple appearing on the floodlit balcony of Buckingham Palace with the Queen switching on an ‘elaborate system of illuminations’.

In Craven, many events were cancelled or postponed because of the weather.

Church services started the day, and there was an hour long pealing of the bells of Skipton Parish Church. Taking part was a Miss M Evans - it was said the Herald, believed to be the first time a lady had ever before taken part in a coronation ringing.

The rest of the morning and afternoon was set aside to watch the television broadcasts.

In Skipton, the procession set off at 5.30pm and took place in pouring rain. The planned concert, dancing display and other attractions in Aireville Park were postponed for a day, but were cancelled altogether after the bad weather continued.

Beacons were lit at Standard Crag on Rombalds Moor, the Ingleborough beacon, the highest in Yorkshire was lit and many other bonfires blazed on Craven Hill tops. Lighting of several others was postponed.

Life in Craven virtually stood still or more correctly, sat still on Coronation Day said the Herald. Every house with a television was crowded.

In Skipton Town Hall, the over 65s were invited to watch the coronation on three television sets. One set projected the pictures onto a 4ft by 3ft screen attached to the front curtain of the stage.

Two smaller sets catered for the other half of the audience. The hall was always about three quarters full throughout the day.

Some limped into the hall on crutches or sticks, but without exception they showed an ‘eager but quiet’ concentration and there was ‘hardly any fidgeting’.

The procession in Skipton, from Westmoreland Street to Aireville Park took place in a heavy rainstorm and was watched by a handful of people sheltering in doorways. Many others preferred to stay at home and watch proceedings on their television sets.

Some thought the procession would be cancelled because of the weather but the more patriotic said it must go ahead, insisting that the coronation celebrations would not be complete without the customary procession.

Before the procession moved off those taking part had received a wetting and by the time they reached the end, they were soaked, reported the Herald.

The coronation decorations buffeted by high winds and drenched by rain drooped forlornly along the route.

The Skipton Prize Band marched at the head, but their crimson and yellow uniforms were hidden by overcoats.

They played with gusto however and were followed by soldiers and two vehicles with mounted 20mm guns.

Also in the procession making its way through empty streets were police, councillors, members of the Skipton Charities Gala Committee, schools, British Legion, boy scouts and girl guides. The band of the Salvation Army brought up the rear along with members of the Chamber of Trade, branches of the Air Force and other organisations.

A planned vigil in Aireville Park for the young people of Skipton was poorly attended because of the cold but did include singing by the choir of Ermysted’s Grammar School with the music master playing a piano mounted on a tractor.

A telegram congratulating the Queen on her coronation was sent by the chair of Skipton Urban District Council Mrs Mollie Mitchell, on behalf of the council and ‘loyal citizens of Skipton’.