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Barwick Maypole Snippets

From the Barwicker No.102
June 2011

In 1904 the Barwick and Scholes Parish Council discussed attaching a street lamp to the maypole; Mrs. J. Ellis of The Manor, Barwick, wrote that much inconvenience and even danger is caused by darkness round the maypole, and it occurred to me that a lamp could be affixed there with much benefit to the inhabitants. She even offered to pay for the lamp and on-going fuel costs. The Parish Council commented that affixing a lamp to the maypole would not do at all! and referred the matter to the District Council to look for a suitable location for a lamp nearby.

In 1893 Tom Jowett of Barwick suggested attaching sails to the Maypole during the March winds. For what purpose is not recorded, but Roamer, the Skyrack Courier's Editorial Correspondent said it would not be advisable to do this!

An early reference to the Barwick Maypole is in the 1854 edition of The Naturalist when John Dixon of Leeds writes in answer to a query about Bluebells "that white-flowered varieties of this plant are frequently met with on limestone soils in Yorkshire. I remember rambling one fine day in spring, now many years ago, to the village of Barwick-in-Elmet, celebrated for its stupendous Saxon earthworks, known as the Hall Tower Hill; beside some minor archaeological attractions in the shape of an old church, and the base of a cross; close to which stands another pleasing relic of days long past: "A maypole gaye, with garlandes hung". After satisfying my antiquarian curiosity in the village, I strolled towards the woods, stretching on to "Towton's fatal dale," and in crossing the fields met with two lads who had been gathering Bluebells, amongst which I noticed many white varieties; one of the little fellows, full of good-nature, would turn back and show me where these White Bluebells, as he called them, grew. It was a copse, at no great distance north-east from the village; and there I found them in plenty, together with a flesh-coloured variety."

In 1954 the BBC filmed the Maypole event for the Television newsreel. The cameras visited the village twice, in April they recorded at Mr. Pullan's timber yard whilst the new maypole was been prepared and in June when the pole was raised. The film does not survive in the BBC archives and it is not known whether it was ever shown. Do any of our readers have any further details?

BBC filming the Maypole being shaped in Pullan's wood yard in 1954

In 1981 the Maypole fell, out of control, whilst being lowered. The top half shattered and the stainless steel fox and garland supports were buckled. Main Street was filled with people at the time but miraculously nobody was hurt.

During the lowering of the Maypole in April 1919 one of the ropes became entangled in the telegraph wires running to the Barwick Post Office. An extra-long rope was added and all villagers included children helped throw it clear with no damage to the vital telegraph service.


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