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Maypole 1987
March 1990

Barwicker No.17
March 1990

The following account of the maypole festivals held three years ago is made up of extracts from the 'Skyrack Express', reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editor.

Thursday, 19 March 1987.
Excitement is beginning to mount in Barwick with the approach of the traditional maypole festival which every three years brings this normally quiet village into the spotlight. Already preparations are well under way, with four organisations busy making the brightly-coloured garlands that hang from the brackets part-way up the white, red and blue structure. Teams from the Barwick Wives' Group, the Royal British Legion Women's Section, the C. of E. Junior and Infants School and the John Rylie House Community Centre are canvassing their supporters for donations of silk and satin materials to make what will be a total of over 6000 individual rosettes.

Volunteers working under the auspices of the Manpower Services Commission are helping to tidy Hall Tower Field and erect a new boundary fence. And the Maypole Committee are beavering away behind the scenes.

This year it is hoped that a volunteer will climb the pole and attach ropes for the lowering, then climb again after the raising to release them and continue to the top to spin the gilded fox weathervane which traditionally completes the ceremony. In 1984 insurance complications meant that the local firemen with a turntable ladder had to be called in to substitute.

At the end of the month the maypole committee will circulate its triennial report and statement of accounts round the village and this will mark the end of an era for the chairman, Mr Stan Robshaw, who is retiring after 36 years' unbroken service. When officials are appointed at the public meeting which follows the lowering there will be a new chairman and a new pole-master - another task that Mr Robshaw feels that it is time to relinquish.

"At 72 I believe it is time I stepped down," he said. "The responsibility weighs a bit heavy as time goes on and I think it would be wrong to hold on to office when there are young people who can take over. I must now charge others to do what 1 was charged to do in 1951." In the mean time his work continues. He is looking for volunteers to handle ropes and ladders around the maypole during both ceremonies and for a brass band to lead the procession round the Village on gala day.

Thursday, 23 April 1987.
Barwick's unique tradition of lowering the village maypole every third Easter was re-enacted on Monday without a hitch. Blue skies greeted the crowds of visitors who thronged the village streets - some to watch and some to help the locals man the system of ropes and ladders used to ease the pole to the ground.

Despite a quite-strong wind it came down in what was thought to be a record time, a tribute to the efforts of the maypole committee treasurer John Leak who was taking on the task of guiding operations as pole master for the first time. A huge cheer went up from the audience as the horizontal pole was lifted on willing shoulders and carried to the nearby Hall Tower Field where its traditional white, red and blue decorations will be refurbished.

To close the evening Mr Leak invited everyone to go to the triennial public meeting and to return on Spring Bank Holiday Tuesday (May 26) to see the pole raised again.

Thursday, 21 May, 1987.
The queen-elect, 12 year-old Vicky Crabtree, and her maid-of honour Dawn Allan, will travel in the crown coach. With them will be crown-bearer Andrew Sibson, equerries Philip Crabtree and Steven Kemp, and train-bearers Andrew Talbot and Emma Whitehead. A retinue of little girl attendants from the school, together with teams of local dancers and other local children will follow on decorated floats.

Growing up in the maypole tradition played a big part in 12- year old Vicky Crabtree's decision to enter the maypole queen competition this year. Her mother Jennifer is a past maid-of- honour as is her 26-year old sister Susan and her other sister Deborah (21) also entered when she was the appropriate age.

Vicky has surpassed their achievements, however, and she is thrilled at the prospect. '1 have lived all my life in the village and I think the maypole is very important,' she said. '1 have never missed a ceremony and I very much wanted to be part of it.'

She will not be the only member of the family taking part this time. Her 10-year old brother Philip is an equerry and the family farm at Syke House, Potterton, has long been supplying tractors and trailers for the gala procession.

Thursday, 28 May 1987.
At the last minute the sun decided to shine on Barwick's maypole-raising gala on Tuesday warming the already festive atmosphere of the crowds who thronged the village. They saw the gaily-decorated procession wind its way through the streets to the Hall Tower Field, led by the youngsters of three visiting jazz bands who later thrilled with demonstrations of their playing and marching artistry.

On the gala stage the maypole queen Vicky Crabtree was crowned by the Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Mrs Sheila Stavely. Official guests then stayed to watch a display of maypole dancing and plaiting by children of the village school.

The Platform Party

A surprise insertion into the programme was the presentation of a cut glass decanter to Mr Stan Robshaw, who retired this year after 36 years as chairman of the maypole committee.

Stalls, games and sideshows around the field provided extra entertainment until the early-evening raising of the maypole. There was a carnival feeling as the pole was carried to its site in the village centre and crowds of willing volunteers helped pole master John Leak to raise it into position. Local climber Simon Walker made his usual ascent to the height of the pole's four garlands to release the steadying ropes, then the evening was rounded off with a display by Leeds Morris Men.

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