IT was just more than 50 years ago when the country's then Prime Minister Edward Heath attended the funeral in Gargrave of Chancellor of the Exchequer Iain Macleod.

Born in Skipton, Mr Macleod attended Ermysted's Grammar School, read history at Cambridge University and joined Parliament in 1950.

He died at 11 Downing Street, London, on July 20, 1970, from a heart attack aged just 56, about a month after being made Chancellor of the Exchequer.

At the funeral, on July 24, Mr Heath, who read the lesson, was joined at St Andrew's Church by several of his colleagues, including members of the cabinet William Whitelaw, Anthony Barber, and Francis Pym.

Leaders of the opposition, Harold Wilson and Jeremy Thorpe sent representatives in their place.

The Craven Herald reported it was the largest funeral in the history of the Church.

Despite heavy rain throughout the day, the church was filled to its 450 capacity, and hundreds more 'thronged the church yard and its approaches'.

Flags were flown at half mast in many parts of the district. The bells of Skipton Parish Church rung half muffled.

"Most of the national newspapers sent their own representatives, special correspondents from many provincial morning evening and weekly newspapers being also present," said the Herald at the time.

"Yorkshire television, BBC television and BBC sound radio also covered the funeral, undoubtedly, the biggest in Gargrave's history. "

The service itself was simple, and was followed by a memorial service in London.

"The vicar of Gargrave, the Rev Kenneth Cook conducted the service inside the church with the assistance of the Bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev Michael Parker and the Archdeacon of Craven, the Ven A Sephton.

Mr Macleod's widow, Eve, her son and daughter in law and another relative motored to Gargrave from Potters Bar.

Her daughter, Diana Heimann, was flown from London to Leeds Bradford Airport together with her son in law. They completed the journey by car, the RAF had offered a helicopter from Yeadon, but bad weather had forced its cancellation."

The Herald continued: "Mr Macleod's body had been brought the previous day to Skipton from London where he had died at 11 Downing Street, aged 56.

"He laid overnight in a Chapel of Rest only a quarter of a mile from Clifford House Keighley, Road, where he was born.

"In his address, Rev Cook said how just a few weeks earlier Iain Macleod his brother and he had stood in the churchyard to lay the remains of his mother in the grave where his father had been buried and just a few steps from where his sister, brother and brother in law also lay buried."

Heavy rain which had fallen most of the morning and throughout the service, continued during the last rites at the graveside.

There were 150 floral tributes.

"They came in profusion and variety. And they all reflected deep grief and a sense of loss which is the nations as well as Craven's," reported the paper, which added people continued to visit the church throughout the following week to pay their respects.