The coronation summer of 1953

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It was on February 6 1952 when an Echo reporter walked to the Brighouse Magistrates Court and handed a hand written note to the Magistrates’ Clerk Mr Clegg.

Once having read it he immediately handed it to the presiding Magistrate, Councillor George Turner. He stood up and read out in a solemn tone that the BBC had announced that His Majesty the King had passed away. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. It would be 16 months from the proclamation on February 9 to the coronation on June 2 1953. This week celebrates 60 years since that regal day in the summer of 1953.

How did you spend that day all those years ago? Being only three years old at the time I probably slept through it all.

This week we feature three photographs highlighting what some readers were doing during that coronation summer. The first photograph, right, was taken at Smith House Estate with the 1953 Gala Queen Miss Betty Wood looking so nice and no doubt feeling very proud that day.

Betty’s retinue included Miss Beryl Keast, Page Boy: Master (unknown) Clayton, but what is his first name and what is the name of the other attendant?

Betty and Beryl were regulars in the all the children’s activities at the estate community centre. In the year before this photograph was taken both girls took part in the annual pantomime Aladdin and his Lamp.

The older residents were not left out either on Sunday May 31 1953 the community association put on what it described as free coronation special coach trip to Bolton Abbey.

Local communities were all being encouraged to have their own local event particularly on the housing estates where there were very active community associations. Stoney Lane Estate was one of the first to announce its annual gala would be on July 5, Brighouse Accident Prevention Week would be held the week of the coronation and both Clifton and Southowram held their own events where each village really pulled the stops out to make their event something to remember.

This second photograph, left, shows the Clifton coronation bonfire which was taken on June 2 1953 and shows the male members of the coronation committee: Back Row (left to right): Joe Quarmby; David Peaker; Fred Nicholson; Charlie Ingle; Fred King; Frank Clayton; and Ralph Schofield.

Middle Row: Ned Peaker; Benny Sawyers; Frank Hirst; Roy Hirst and Arthur Squire.

Front Row: Stanley Rukin; Ernest Whitaker; Maurice Rukin; Ernest Lister; Norman Ramsden; Roy Neild; Nathan Brierley; Tom Dixon; Charlie Roberts; Horace Clay and Jack Shaw.

Another local community to get into the coronation celebratory mood and our third photograph was the group of children in Harriet Street on June 4 - main picture. The street held its coronation party in the Trinity Chapel schoolroom.

The council’s coronation sub-committee arranged for a civic procession to lead the way to Wellholme Park from the Town Hall with all three local bands taking part. Arriving at the park the event would be opened by the Mayor. There would be Punch and Judy shows for the children and a thirty minute play given by the Brighouse Children’s Theatre.

To watch the coronation the few who owned or had access to a TV held television parties inviting their friends and neighbours to join them. Several small screen cinemas were made available across the borough and a further 25 sets which had been produced in Brighouse were loaned out for the day by Noel Fitton who owned the Ambassador Radio Company.