Sixty years ago the biggest event in the country was celebrated in all parts - and not least the Calder Valley - when Queen Elizabeth’s coronation brought a splash of colour into a tough post-war world.
Communities intended to make a day of it, including Hebden Royd and Heptonstall, when a whole day and more of entertainment was organised in a manner that must have been typical throughout the country.
Alison Ackroyd’s family still has a copy of the souvenir programme specially produced by the Hebden Royd and Hepton Joint Coronation Celebrations Committee for Tuesday, June 2, 1953.
Things actually began the night before, when Todmorden’s Belvedere Orchestra were booked to play at the Coronation Eve Ball at the Carlton Ballroom, Hebden Bridge, which included “a demonstration of the new Coronation Dance” by Harold Hulley and Doreen Edwards.
The morning of Coronation Day was set to be spent in a manner that wouldn’t be at all unusual now but certainly was for 1953.
From 10.15am to 1.45pm, public television broadcasts of the Coronation Procession and Crowning Ceremony were arranged at Hope Baptist Sunday School, Salem Methodist Church Sunday School, the Electricity Works at Valley Road, Blackshaw Head Methodist Sunday School and Crimsworth Methodist Sunday School.
Children under 16 were then advised to hasten to and meet at their Sunday Schools ahead of a Coronation Procession and a special tea, for which they were issued with a tea ticket, taking up the afternoon.
It’s here where the rain, which swathed most of the country, came into its own, though much of the programme continued apace, as it did in other Calder Valley towns and villages.
A parade, with a procession route of Market Street, Bridge Gate, St George’s Square, Albert Street, Crossley Mill, Machpelah and by the Station Road entrance into Calder Holmes Park, Hebden Bridge, was held, followed by much of a planned packed gala programme - and with a film show ready at the Picture House for when things got too bad. A bonfire at Mount Skip was part of a national chain.
The programme details events ranging from PT displays and dancing to sports competitions and a fell race. Some of these were hit by the weather - the bowls for example soon fell victim - and only four people entered the three-mile fell race in what must have been awful conditions.
But on the whole people did not let the downpour dampen their spirits as they persevered with parades but cancelled other events.
At Todmorden, for example, events were abandoned after a parade and gala at Centre Vale Park, and it was so wet that leftover food had to be swilled away. Processions were held at Wadsworth and Cragg Vale, among others.
Surviving programmes like Alison’s Hebden Royd one detail what might have been, if absolutely everything had gone ahead and the sun had shone. But they had prepared for the worst too - there was always going to be something to enjoy.
As it was, they knuckled down to have as much fun as they could - something to celebrate after an austere period as Britain slowly recovered from the hardships of the second world war.