NOSTALGIA: Coronation Day 1953, when TV and bad weather drove everyone indoors

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

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

It was also a time of change with television setting a “new model for ancient ceremonies”, commented the Craven Herald.

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

And, it differed from all other coronations in that the “new era of television” meant that millions of “ordinary” people could watch it at home or at their friends’.

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

However, the weather has not been 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 ended with the royal couple appearing on the lit balcony of Buckingham Palace with the queen lighting an “elaborate system of illuminations”. .

In Craven, many events have been canceled or postponed due to weather.

Church services began the day and the bells of Skipton Parish Church rang for an hour. Miss M Evans attended – it was said the Herald, believed to be the first time a lady had ever attended a coronation ring.

The rest of the morning and afternoon was reserved for watching TV shows.

In Skipton, the procession left at 5:30 p.m. and took place in the pouring rain. The planned concert, dance performance and other attractions at Aireville Park were postponed for a day, but were canceled altogether after the bad weather continued.

Beacons were lit at Standard Crag on Rombalds Moor, Ingleborough’s highest beacon in Yorkshire was lit and many other bonfires blazed atop Craven Hill. The lighting of several others has been postponed.

Life at Craven all but came to a halt or more correctly, came to a halt on Coronation Day, the Herald said. Every house with a television was crowded.

At Skipton Town Hall, over-65s were invited to watch the coronation on three televisions. One set projected the images onto a 4ft by 3ft screen attached to the front curtain of the stage.

Two smaller sets accommodated the other half of the public. The room was always three-quarters full throughout the day.

Some entered the hall limping with crutches or sticks, but without exception they showed “greedy but calm” concentration and there was “virtually no commotion”.

The procession in Skipton from Westmoreland Street to Aireville Park took place in a heavy thunderstorm and was watched by a handful of people sheltering in the gates. Many others preferred to stay home and watch the proceedings on their televisions.

Some thought the procession would be canceled due to the weather but the more patriotic said it had to go on, insisting the coronation celebrations would not be complete without the usual procession.

Before the motorcade set off, the participants had been wet and by the time they reached the end they were drenched, the Herald reported.

Coronation decorations buffeted by strong winds and soaked in rain fell sadly along the route.

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

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

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

A planned vigil at Aireville Park for Skipton youngsters was sparsely attended due to the cold but included singing by the Ermysted Grammar School choir with the music master playing a tractor-mounted piano.

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

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