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Coronation Day Memories - 1953
Supplied by: Mrs Joan Tindale
 
My name is Kathleen Whitaker. I have been asked to share memories of Cowling’s Celebrations on the occasion of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.

It all began for us with a dance held in the Village Hall on 30th January 1953. I was one of eleven contestants who entered to become Miss Coronation, later to be crowned Coronation Queen.

I was the one chosen, and the attendants chosen were:- Mavis Holdsworth nee Atkinson.
Edna Smith nee Gott who is well known in the village, and the only one still living in Cowling.
Pauline Preston nee Keighley was to be the cushion bearer.

The judges were Miss Lumley and Mr & Mrs Townley.

When the decision was announced I received a lovely bouquet of spring flowere and a box of chocolates. Edna and Mavis received sprays of flowers to wear on their dresses.

Coronation Day was on 2nd June 1953 but things began in the previous week. On Saturday 30th May we were invited to attend a Coronation Tea for 200 Senior Citizens to be held at Bar Chapel with entertainment by Mr Jim Fort.

In the evening we wore the long dresses that had been made for us by Mrs Winterbottom. My dress was cream with a purple cloak. Edna and Mavis were dressed in blue. Pauline wore a pretty dress and carried a cushion with the crown on it.

Mrs Edna Pearce, formerly Edna Dale had been chosen for the crowning because she had been Coronation Queen when King George VI came to the throne.

The Chairman and members of the Parish Council took part in the evening. Then I was asked to distribute gifts to the parents of ex-servicemen.
Memories of World War II were still very much with us.

All this was followed by a Concert with items from all the churches in the village, from Cowling Band
and Cowling Male Voice Choir. It is reported as being an excellent concert, though rather long!

The United Coronation Service at Holy Trinity took place the following evening Sunday 31st May. The church was packed, with chairs down the aisles. A united choir sang Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus which was conducted by Mr Ronald Duckworth with Mr Jim Fort as organist.

Coronation Day, Tuesday 2nd June was very cold.
Someone said she had worn carol singing clothes and was still not warm. In the morning approximately 300 children gathered in the Recreation Ground to receive commemorative spoons or beakers and a bar of chocolate. In the afternoon judging for the procession entries was done by Mr & Mrs Padgett of Sunny Mount. Winner of the five tableaux was Walton Street Church with “Days of Good Queen Bess”. The Queen’s float was followed by Parish Councillors and the fancy dress entries. The procession started at Middleton bottom, led by Cowling Brass Band and went around the village then into the Cricket field. The rain started after the presentation of prizes for entrants to the procession. The sports were cancelled due to heavy rain, and the picnic tea had to be moved from the Recreation Ground into the Village Hall with the Band playing.

In the evening there was a dance in the Village Hall with music by Mr Walter Binns and his radiogram. At 9 o’clock the Queen’s speech to the nation was broadcast.

Up at the Pinnacle a bonfire was lit by Mr Chris Bell accompanied by Mrs Clara Foster. At 10 o’clock there were 30 people up there braving the elements, but the fireworks had to be cancelled. In Skipton they had an evening procession and everyone got soaked.

There were beacons like ours on hill-tops throughout the land. There was a great air of expectation in the country. People saw it as a new start after the war with a new young Queen on the throne. The new Elizabethan era had begun. We now know that Queen Elizabeth has served her country well and with great dedication.
God Bless the Queen!

Kathleen Whitaker

I can’t remember much about Coronation Day in Cowling as we went over to my Grandad’s at Lothersdale – they had a tele and the family gathered there to watch - very exciting at the time as only a few people had televisions.
I remember my Dad telling me that Kathleen Whitaker had been chosen as our Cowling Coronation Queen - which she well deserved.

What I most remember is the presentations made at Cowling School – all the children assembled in the hall and I think John Binns’s mill donated a radiogram, and we were each given a mug and a spoon – I have still got the spoon which has cleaned up well. The mug I was not too keen on, and exchanged it for a nicer one in a charity shop not long ago. I also remember that Mr. & Mrs. Beck of no. 105 Keighley Rd. painted their railings red, white and blue, as there was a best decorated house competition and everyone thought this was very amusing! The railings at no. 105 remained red, white and blue for a long time afterwards!

I have still got the lovely silver spoon given to my Mum in 1937 at the Coronation of King George V1, and have photos of when Lothersdale schoolchildren planted trees down the “dam bank” as we called it.

Joan Tindale

My memory of the Coronation is of standing in line in the recreation ground waiting to be presented with a tin of chocolate. The dignitaries were in the old shelter of the War Memorial garden and I think it was Mr. and Mrs. William Smith who handed it out. Mr. Smith was the Chairman of the Parish Council. I was 4 years old at the time and remember the chocolate better than the tin!

Kathryn Benson

My memories of the Coronation Day was an early rise to get the work done on the farm first. The night before we had spent cleaning all the horse brasses and harness ready for the big day! Before we could decorate the horse he was to brush down from top to bottom, feed and water.

I think that the procession would meet at Middleton Bottom about 1.30 ready for the off at 2 p.m. I remember that the weather was awful-cold, wet and sleet. We then had to travel from Middleton to Colling Road,and back to the recreation ground with the procession. I think the worst memory was that just before the procession started was the collapse and death of a well known village bandsman, which was so sad.

Norman Binns

Parish of Cowling Coronation Celebrations June 1953

Saturday 30th May: Cowling's celebrations began with a tea and giving a touch of royal splendour.
Next we dashed across the street home to put on fancy dress costumes and get to Middleton for 2.00pm for the start of the Procession which was to be led by Cowling Brass Band through the village to the cricket field. The theme of the fancy dress was Britain and Empire so there were lots of children and adults in colourful national dress. The tableaux on wagons representing scenes from other countries were the work of Sunday Schools and clubs in the village. The leading float was Miss Coronation's and the flag waving people who thronged the street to watch followed the procession to the concert for all residents aged 65 and over. This was held in the Methodist schoolroom with its large stage and balcony. Tea was served at 4:30pm followed by the concert and at 6:30pm it was open to all residents for the ceremony of the crowning of Miss Coronation (Kathleen Whitaker) by the 1937 Coronation Queen Mrs. Edna Pearce (nee Dale) The Parish Council paid £17 10s 0d (£17.50) for Miss Coronation's dress and cloak which were made by Mrs Winterbottom. It was a very enjoyable event in that lovely spacious hall - now gone!

Sunday 31st May: Our celebrations continued with a United Coronation Service at Cowling Parish Church conducted by the vicar, Rev. H. Clegg and the Methodist minister, Rev. F. Blundred, unfortunately I don't have one of the commemorative orders of service.

Monday 1st June: Back to work for most of us, but any free time was devoted to last minute preparations for the "Big Day". The bonfire on the crag had to be completed, the cricket field had to be ready for the planned events, and the Village Institute had to be decorated for the celebration dance - and other events if the day was wet. Red, white and blue flags were strung across the main street and shopkeepers put last minute touches to their window displays ready for judging. There was also a competition for the best decorated house, with only red, white and blue being allowed of course. We did our windows with streamers and bowls of flowers, Red Campion, White Stitchwort and Bluebells, and fairy lights and were highly commended.

Tuesday 2nd June: The long-awaited day, so up early and ready for the first event, the presentation in the Recreation Memorial Gardens of souvenirs to all children under school age by the chairman of the Parish Council, Mr W. Smith and Mrs Smith, followed by presentations to schoolchildren up to the age of 15 by the chairman of the school governors, Mr Maurice Cleaver and Mrs Cleaver. As it was raining both presentations were in the Village Institute. The souvenir tins of Cadbury's chocolate bars cost £153.
Next we rushed home for our Woodland Street big event- Mr Norman Leach at the chemist shop, had purchased a 12inch black and white television set to watch the celebrations in London. All residents of Woodland Street and friends were invited and we all squashed together on chairs and forms with children on the floor. What a treat at 11am to see the Queen in her coach in the procession to Westminster Abbey with crowds outside the palace and all along the route waving flags. We sat entranced watching the Coronation Service and crowning of our Queen in Westminster Abbey, a rare treat, never to be forgotten, thanks to Norman and Ivy Leach. This was followed by the lavish buffet of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits with a gleaming copper tea urn cricket field to enjoy the planned events. Although the rain had been replaced with sun it was still chilly but we were all there to enjoy ourselves. The first event was the presentation by Miss Coronation of souvenirs to all who took part in the colourful array of costumes, tableaux, decorated cycles, cars and vans.
3:30 pm saw the start of the children's races, every child who entered received a token if not a winner. At 6:00pm the amusing adults sports began, including a tug-of-war, greasy pole, slow bicycle race where the last to finish won, three-legged race and human wheelbarrow race. All were great fun and the last event was the race to the Pinnacle. The Brass Band played all evening until 9:00 pm when the Queen's speech was relayed by loudspeaker on the field, followed by a firework display and the lighting of the bonfire on the Crag. This was part of the chain of bonfires lit on high points across Britain.
At 10:00pm for those with any energy left after all this there was the Coronation Dance in the lavishly decorated Village Institute. Light refreshments were served, but no alcohol was allowed in this building. The dance ended at 1:00am with the singing of the National Anthem.

Cowling Coronation Committee had arranged a splendid day that was appreciated and remembered by all. Wonderful memories.

Written April 2012 by Dorothy Holmes, (Makin), from her memories at Woodland Street 1953.
 

 

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