Churchgoers really got into the spirit of Whitsun parades
WHITSUNTIDE is just around the corner and with this in mind we find that around 90 years ago the scholars and parishioners connected with St Mary’s Church, Birch, held their customary procession through the village.
The year of 1927 was very well attended with crowds of people admiring the procession. The Chinley Band headed the procession, which was followed by the large school banner and the vicar, the Rev F Taylor. Next followed two lovely banners made of various coloured roses by Miss Howarth and members of the Girls Friendly Society. The banners represented the years 1827 and 1927, the centenary of the church.
We discover that around the 1827 banner walked young ladies attired in the quaint costumes of that period and they were followed by a lurry tableau representing the foundation stone laying for the church. The very effective and beautiful tableau was arrange by Mrs F Taylor and helpers. After the procession had toured the village, the scholars, friends and supporters spent a pleasant evening playing games in one of the neighbouring fields. HOME GROUND Whitsun weekend 1918 saw the town busier than a normal Whitsuntide weekend. It was reported fewer people went away than usual and there was a huge concourse of people passing through from Rochdale to Manchester and vice versa. The tram business we are informed did a roaring trade and the “butter queues were put absolutely to shame.” At this period there was a butter shortage. In the Police Court list we find that in spite of the huge crowds, everything passed off without any serious disturbances and the behaviour of the people was in every respect “most exemplary.”
The beautiful weather was taken full advantage off and a large number of people certainly did go away the following weekend to the seaside and to the country and were well rewarded. Several hundreds of people took themselves to well-known coastal resorts. From what was reported the destinations provided full cater- ing despite the threats which had been issued by the city fathers which referred to food shortages, but we see that the “inner man” was well catered for.
Back in Middleton it was published that the Mayoress appeal for donations for the Red Cross comforts fund must not be forgotten. The work of the Red Cross was preeminently the most magnificent voluntary effort of the war and must be helped. “Please send subscriptions either to the Mayoress or the Borough Treasurer.” WHITSUNTIDE TRIPS Whitsuntide in the 1880s saw four excursions leaving Middleton on Whit Friday, which proved more successful than previous years. The total of excursionists were 2,052, against 1,400 the previous year. One of the outings was organised by the Middleton and Tonge Liberal Club which saw 566 passengers leave for Blackpool. The party arrived at the coast at eight o’clock, but we find that their return journey took a number of hours to arrive back in Middleton. The time quoted was two o’clock on the Saturday morning, which was an 18-hour day. The most successful outing was made by the Middleton Conservative Club, which chose Barmouth. It was estimated that 700 passengers attended the trip. The train reached Barmouth at 8.40am and the return journey was commenced at six o’clock, which saw the train steam into Middleton station at 01.30 on Saturday morning. The Sunday School Union chose Rhyl, Betwsy-Coed and took 486 passengers. Just before they got to Rhyl an accident happened to the engine, which put out the fire. This is a safety feature known as “dropping the plug.” Should the boiler become short of water a metal plug in the water tank drops and releases water on to the coal fire, thus preventing an explosion. This plug would have to be then replaced, being held in its location with lead, which melts under a certain temperature, which released the water. This was serious and most drivers would lose their job if they dropped a plug. With the Middleton engine immobile, another engine was sent for which towed the engine into Rhyl. The breakdown cost the party a delay of half an hour. It was then 10am. when they arrived at Betws-y-Coed. A little over eight hours later the return journey commenced, with the party arriving back in Middleton at just after midnight. The Card and Blowing Room Operatives Association chose Liverpool and 300 people accompanied it. Reading the reports from this period we find, apart from the engine problem, there were no accidents experienced by the passengers of the excursions.
HEAVY RAIN AT RHODES
The annual procession at All Saints’ church, Rhodes, had to be modified in 1950 owing to the treacherous weather on the Saturday walk. It is stated that 250 people took part and formed in the schoolyard. Mr H Barratt, secretary of the Parochial Church Council, headed the parade followed by the Blackley Home Guard Band. The large banner of the girls Sunday School streamed in the breeze, the girls were dressed in white and carried bouquets of flowers. Behind the banner walked the vicar, the Rev JRC Gamble. Next was Mr Les Howarth, verger, Mr H Green, lay reader and Mr A Horridge, churchwardens. The Cubs, with their new flag, were on parade for the first time, led by Mr Eric Woolfall. Setting off to a rousing march from the band, the gaily coloured throng walked along Foxall Street, but had just got to Broad Street when a heavy shower started. The route was changed and the procession made its way back to the church. Once the rain had passed over the walk commenced once again, this time taking Manchester Old Road, Heywood Old Road and back again to the church where tea was served by the willing band of teachers and other Sunday School workers. The weather continued to be unsettled so it was decided to play games in school instead of outside. A good time was had, the children had a “satisfactory day,” so the report states. ‘MOST IMPOSING EVER’ The Whitsuntide weather of 1918 proved to be of benefit to the procession in connection with St Peter’s Catholic Church. The Sunday event was the most imposing spectacle of its kind ever seen in the district. The procession started out from the schools, headed by the Middleton Borough Band and all along the route crowds of people assembled to admire the pageant. After the cross bearer, accolytes, members of the choir and clergy, came the confraternities of the church, namely; Children of Mary, the Blessed Sacrament Confraternity (male and female branches), members of the St Vincent-dePaul Society, members of the Altar Society, members of the Catholic Boys Brigade with their band, members of the Men’s Club; also a large number of members of the congregation. The most charming feature in the procession was the May Queen, attended by her suite, but the school children prettily dressed in white were also much admired. Several beautiful banners were carried and these included the large banner of St Peter, the banner of Our Lady, the banner of the Blessed Sacrament and the banner of St. Patrick.
The Girls Friendly Society at Birch Church in 1927
A Whitsun procession through Market Place