QUEEN Elizabeth’s Coronation celebrations in Craven in June 1953 finally got what they needed when it stopped raining and the sun came out.

Following what sounded like a thoroughly miserable day weather wise on Coronation day itself, June 2, the latter part of the week turned out nice.

Under the headline ‘The coronation sunshine came late’, the Craven Herald reported that the last days of the celebrations were ‘colourful, well planned and joyfully conducted’.

Firework displays in Aireville Park, Skipton and elsewhere rounded off the festivities on the Saturday immediately after the Coronation.

Two events were especially good, reported the Herald - the Settle Elizabethan Fayre and the Buckden Elizabethan Pageant.

One of the largest gatherings in Craven was a crowd of thousands that assembled in a field next to Aireville Park on the Sunday to witness motor cycle grass track races given by the Craven and District Motor Club in aid of the Skipton and District Friends. Proceeds were around £90.

All over Craven, every effort was made to make the Coronation memorable for the young and old, reported the Herald.

At Horse Close, Skipton, festivities began with a fancy dress parade around the estate. More than 100 took part, many with coronation themes, including Elizabethan ladies and heralds. Teas were served up to more than 1,000 children and adults and each child received a coronation cup, saucer, plate and spoon. Residents of the ‘old peoples bungalows’ were presented with a souvenir tea caddy containing 1Ib of tea. Street parties in Skipton also took place in Keighley Road, Broughton Road and Aldersley Avenue.

The twice cancelled fireworks - because of the weather - finally took place in Aireville Park in front of what was believed to be the biggest crowd in Skipton to ever see such a display.

Thousands watched the 120 fireworks in a display that cost £100. One of the ‘aerial maroons’ was a portrait of the Queen while another resembled the Victoria Falls.

Over in Settle, Coronation celebrations came to an end on the Saturday with hundreds of people singing the national anthem at midnight in the Market Place.

It was, said the Herald, ‘the gayest day in Settle’ s gayest week’.

All through the day, people had jostled and crowded in the Market Place which had been ‘bannered and hung with greenery and looking very much like Old England’.

From there, they had watched their Coronation Queen Marion Johnson and her pages and attendants move in stately procession from the town hall steps to her throne on a raised dais in the Square.

There followed a Coronation amnesty by the Queen of a helpless knave, imprisoned in genuine stocks at her feet.

The knave, a Charles Lawson, was freed and proceeded to direct the ‘fun of the fayre’.

Buglers from Giggleswick School Junior Training Corps blew a fanfare from the balcony of The Shambles and the Queen and her court, with favourites Raleigh and Essex, watched the merry making.

There was a may pole and country dancing by children, while hidden away in a ‘mystic black tent’, there was a fortune teller. Food included brandy snaps, roast potatoes, toffee apples, and ginger bread, and for entertainment, there was quoits, bows and arrows, skittles and a coconut shy.

In the evening, a parade included Mr H Cowburns jazz band, Settle Operatic Society and Settle Brass Band.

As night fell, Lew Rawcliffe's band played for dancing in the Square, there was community singing to the brass band and in the darkness, Castleberg erupted like a ‘mini volcano’ with a firework display.

In Austwick, 200 villagers with tallow torches in long red and white holders formed a procession in the green and toured the main streets of the village, while popular tunes were sung ‘lustily’ led by the vicar. The procession ended outside the Gamecock Inn where there was dancing and singing until midnight.

Over in West Craven, there were fireworks in Victory Park, Barnoldswick. The display cost 50 pounds, while oil poured onto the timber of the accompanying bonfire insured a ‘fine blaze’. Also, 500 old folk sat down to tea at the canteen at Rolls-Royce Bankfield shed. Oldest there was 92 year old Mrs L Seel. There were two sittings and special buses were laid on to take the guests from the town centre to the factory gates.

The Craven Herald’s leader writer posed the question, ‘did Craven celebrate the Coronation with the same spirit as in the past? and answered yes, customs and fancies had changed indeed - the writer referred to celebrations in Craven surrounding a treaty of peace between Russia and Britain which had included evergreen arches in Stainforth, one named Napoleon.

More of the late Tom Faulkner’s photographs of the people of North Craven can be seen at The Museum of North Craven Life at The Folly, Settle.