King's coronation: Yorkshire residents remember the last time Britain crowned a monarch

·4-min read

As the celebrations of the King and Queen's coronation continue, one man remembers the last time Britain marked a moment like this.

John Reid from Settle, a small market town in North Yorkshire, has vivid recollections of how a rural community came together for a parade that was part of a fortnight of celebrations in 1953.

As we walked through the town, the 79-year-old pointed out parts of the market square, beginning to paint a picture of a day that has stayed with him his whole life.

"It was all in the market square, hundreds of people, I think it brought all the community together. You never were really split up, no matter what denomination you were, what age you were, you were all brought together, and you all celebrated it, from youngsters right to grandparents age."

As part of the pageant, he won first prize for his costume; dressing as an English nobleman. The reward was 10 shillings, which would be just under £18 in today's currency.

"Nana Reid, my dad's mum, made the costume out of any sort of material she had available and was suitable," he recalled.

"I probably would have been encouraged to put it in my savings bank, it was a lot of money in 1953."

For John and his wife Helen, preserving and protecting memories like those are important.

Before we strolled through Settle, the pair proudly showed me a collection of plastic wallets, filled with photographs and newspaper cuttings about events in the town 70 years ago to commemorate the late Elizabeth II being crowned.

"There are not a lot of people living locally who actually can remember these events," said Helen, "so it's nice to have it documented. I think it's very important for the next generations to look back on."

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

For John, a retired joiner, it's also a way to share his personal history.

While watching some archive footage from the parade captured on camera by Eddie Percy - who was a local plumber and amateur filmmaker - he picked out and names a number of people enjoying the festivities. Many of those people were his relatives.

"Sadly a lot of people aren't with us any more, but when our family comes up, I can pass on information, what we did and what we were involved in."

Read more:
King crowned by Archbishop of Canterbury in historic coronation
Eyewitness account from inside Westminster Abbey
Moments that mirrored Queen Elizabeth II's ceremony

In the nearby village of Langcliffe, there is also a long and well-documented history of celebrating royal occasions, with pictures dating back to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

At the heart of festivities will be a set of banners first used in 1935 for the Golden Jubilee of George V, then during the reigns of George VI and the late Queen.

One side of one of the banners is inscribed with the words "God save the King", while the other side says, "God save the Queen".

Kate Croll, who lives in Langcliffe, keeps them at her home, along with pictures and documents chronicling more than a century of history.

Talking about the banners, she said: "It must have been one of the Queen's Jubilees when I first saw them, and I was blown away."

"They've been well-used, there's that continuity there. It's nearly 90 years since they were made and here we are reusing them," she said.

In both Langcliffe and Settle, there is a recognition that this time the events in both places will be smaller.

"Now I suspect, yes, we will celebrate, but it's not going to be on the same scale, I'm afraid," said Kate.

"I think it's a generation thing, a lot of my generation are looking forward to it very much, but it will a bit more low-key this time round."

After the celebrations, Kate will turn her attention to finding a way to proudly display the pieces of history she has collected, with plans for an exhibition in the near future.

"I do think it's absolutely vital," she said. "For future generations, I think in the fullness of time, they will want to look back.

"To have those records is important, if previous generations hadn't kept them, we wouldn't have them to look back on now."