"A post-war revival of the triennial frolics associated with the time-honoured ceremony of raising the giant maypole at Barwick-in-Elmet on Whit Tuesday, provided extraordinary attraction for thousands of holiday makers, who in the phraseology of a contributor to our daily contemporary the 'Yorkshire Post' came from the country round, on foot, and in all kinds of conveyance - from fussy side-cars that left long streaks of dust on the Leeds high road to farmers' pony traps and the waggon loads of laughing children out of the neighbouring parishes.
The afternoon was given over to sports, maypole dances, comic band contests, fancy costume competitions and horse judging. With fine versatility the same gentleman who judged the comic bands and fancy dresses decided also the merits of gaily decorated cart-horses and they proved the wisdom of the arrangement by the general satisfaction with which the verdicts were received by all but some of the losers.
The climax of the proceedings came about six o'clock, when in the presence of an excited crowd that thronged the approaches to the Market Place (sic), the men of Barwick went through the time-honoured ceremony of raising the maypole to its accustomed place close to the ancient market cross.
From time immemorial with but a few breaks in continuity, this mighty pole has been taken down every three years at Easter and raised again at Whitsuntide. It is the distinguishing mark of the village, its principal pride and glory. The market cross has an antique majesty which the wiseacres of the place are always willing to dilate upon, but to hear them talk of the Maypole ceremony you might be persusaded that it flourished before the ichthyosaurus.
Since Easter, the pole has been lying upon trestles in Tower Hill (sic) Field awaiting its time. It is nearly ninety feet long and its diameter at the base is about fifteen inches. Consisting of trunks of two fine larch trees spliced together at its middle it has done duty at Barwick for something like fifteen years and is now showing such signs of stress that the committee who look after its welfare and see to its painting and decoration are of the opinion that when next it comes down it will be for the last time. They have therefore applied to a local gentleman, who appears to be a larch fancier, to present them with a suitable substitute three years hence. The average life of a larch maypole is twenty five years but this one they say was not too well seasoned.
There was a wild rush to the field when the Committee, fully alive to the solemnity of the occasion, led the way to the recumbent pole and called for volunteers to carry it to the Market Place. "Come along, ye men of Barwick", shouted one of the churchwardens, or curators, or official custodians or whatever they call themselves, through a megaphone, "Come along and do a man's duty".
There were plenty of volunteers, anything between fifty and a hundred, and mostly Barwick worthies, for it is a point of honour that the pole shall be raised by Barwick men only, and that no pulleys or mechanical means shall be used in its elevation.
Headed by a uniformed band playing martial strains, looking like a monstrous pre-historic centipede, the pole was borne on the broad shoulders of the gallant platoon down the main street until its base rested at the edge of the pit, 6 feet deep, which had been dug for its reception.
Then followed the serious part of the performance. Mr E Burnett, (Edward Burnett of the 'New Inn' Ed.), master of ceremonies, stood on the market cross like a captain on the quarter deck, giving clear-cut orders with a cool assurance and a sense of mastery that inspired both confidence and admiration.
While the men near the base used their shoulders as a fulcrum, others supported the tapering end with ladders of various lengths while others again steadied and balanced the pole with long ropes held taut and now relaxed at a sign from the watchful Burnett.
Gradually almost inch by inch, the pole was raised steadily upwards, until at the end of a difficult hour, not without danger to the populace if a rope had broken or a hand at a critical moment had failed, it stood erect, secure and graceful, amidst a burst of delighted cheering.
Midway from the top hung four massive balls of beautiful flowers draped with many-coloured ribbons, and on the topmost part towering above the parish church, a gilded fox surveyed the smiling scene. There he will remain for three long years to tell you which way the wind blows - unless the pole drops suddenly from fatigue or succumbs to a streak of lightning.
High revel was held at night to celebrate the triennial achievement. For its maypole is Barwick's mascot. The carnival was enlivened by the orthodox music rendered by the Garforth Prize Band under the conductorship of Mr T Beaumont and "jazz" music (?) by comic bands from Kippax and Garforth respectively, the grotesque costumes of the performers being productive of great merriment.
Mr Thomas Robshaw, Rectory Cottage, Barwick-in-Elmet, (usually known in Barwick as 'Master Tom' Ed.) officiated as honorary secretary to the Maypole Committee, whilst in the sports competition Messrs. (John) Birch and T A (Thomas Algernon) Robshaw, Chairman and ex-Chairman of Barwick Parish Council, were amongst the gentlemen officiating as clerks of the course.
The prettiest feature was the maypole plaiting by beautifully attired children of the Barwick National School, who danced gracefully under the supervision of the headmaster Mr A (Arthur) Booth, while the sports were also a great attraction and were keenly contested."
The 'Skyrack Courier' of 20 June 1919. (the following edition to that quoted above) reports on the problems of the return journey to Leeds: