POOLE had to wait eight years before it could present Winston Churchill with the honour it voted to give him after the war.

It was in May 1946 that the local council decided it should honour the former leader by giving him the freedom of the borough.

But with similar honours being conferred on him from all over the country, it was not until 1954 that Churchill could accept it – and then, councillors had to travel to Downing Street for the occasion.

The Daily Echo of May 6 that year reported how the honour had been conferred as the “highest mark of esteem, and in deep gratitude for his wartime leadership”.

He was not the first Winston Churchill to receive the honour. In 1660, Captain Winston Churchill, had been admitted a Free Burgess of the Town and County of Poole. He was the father of John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough.

Sir Winston was presented with his freedom 500 years later by the mayor, Alderman Mary Llewellin, who showed the Prime Minister his ancestor’s signature on the records.

The PM told the visiting Poole dignitaries he was “deeply grateful” for the compliment and for them making the journey to London.

“I have had a great many freedoms presented to me, and I have not yet been able to receive even half of them, but I hope to live long enough to accomplish this task,” he said. “But this is a very special case because of the signature which I have seen before today which you, Mr Mayor, pointed out to me in your records of the first Sir Winston Churchill, from whom I am descended.”

He added: “I have been to Poole many times, sometimes for pleasure and sometimes on business.

“I have the warmest feeling towards your town and I hope, I earnestly hope, I shall have the opportunity of going again to see the waters and the scene which I really know quite well.”

The mayor told Sir Winston there had been “no division of opinion whatever” about the move to accord him the honour.

She told how his “matchless oratory delighted many of our citizens”.

“Poole is therefore well known to you and we had greatly hoped that you might have been able to give us the supreme pleasure of seeing you there on this occasion, but we also realise that, during the last few years, this has been impossible,” she said.

Less than a year later, an ailing Churchill resigned the premiership at the age of 80.

Among the local people paying tribute was Bournemouth resident Sir Arthur H Marshall, of West Overcliff Drive. He had been Liberal MP for Wakefield from 1910-18 when Churchill was a minister in the Liberal governments of Asquith and Lloyd-George.

He told the Echo: “Sir Winston was the greatest political figure of modern times. Not merely in his own country where his great gifts were magnificently used, but his influence has spread throughout the world.”