Church­go­ers really got into the spirit of Whit­sun pa­rades

Middleton Guardian - - BYGONE DAYS - HAROLD CUN­LIFFE

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.


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

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