In organising the maypole procession, the
Committee need the co-operation of the
schoolteachers, the schoolchildren, their parents
and many other people. It is a total village
effort with no-one left out. You have to decide
what form it is to take and if there is a theme
In 1978, the Maypole Committee engaged
three bands of the Sunderland and District
Juvenile Jazz Band Association. These were to be
the centre point of the procession. There were
130 girls and 12 adults in attendance. They
arrived at Barwick at 11.30am on the day of the
event. The three buses parked in the schoolyard,
at that time in Aberford Road, and they had the
use of the school and the school toilets. Also
by arrangement they were able to buy fish and
chips at the fish shop, after which they put on
their uniforms ready for the procession. They
did this in the school.
There were decorated floats and other
vehicles used to transport the schoolchildren
round the village streets to Hall Tower Field,
where they would entertain with maypole dancing.
There were five teams of dancers of one kind or
another, as well as other children. All the
girls were dressed in white and the boys in white
shirts and black trousers. This was their day,
which they would always remember, together with
the decorated float and the girls' band. Also
you made sure that the late Albert Warner was
ready to head the parade in his Town Crier's
vestments and hand bell.
The foregoing would be the main composition
of the procession. It still had to be assembled
in the right place and in the correct order to
move off. It had to follow a chosen route and
keep to a time schedule. I remember that I and
the now retired PC Pickersgill walked the route
and put a time scale to it. In 1972 when I was
Procession Marshall it was 45 minutes but it has
been since shortened and now takes 30 minutes.
On the day of the procession, the police
are in attendance all day. They keep a low
profile and are very helpful. They are aware
that people have come to enjoy the day out and to
see something special.
By mid-day people are gathering in Main
Street amd along the route of the procession.
There is much activity, and police cones and road
diversion signs have been put out. Barriers are
being fixed on the Hall Tower gate and there is
much traffic in and and out of Hall Tower Field.
There are last minute jobs to complete and time
is running out. There is much excitement and a
feeling that something big is about to happen.
The time is now 1.15pm and we must leave Main
Street and the hubbub and make our way to the
assembly of the procession at the entrance to the
Church School in Welfare Avenue.
On my way I call at the school yard in
Aberford Rd. to see how the bands are getting on
and to my delight I find them lined up ready in
three ranks. The adult attendants are giving
last-minute instructions and looking them over to
make sure they are perfect and from what I saw
they were "perfect".
I left them and said I would send for them
in 15 minutes or so, when the schoolchildren were
loaded onto the floats. I made my way to Welfare
Avenue where the floats were in the correct
order. The teachers brought the children out of
The Maypole Queen and the Maid of Honour
accompanied by the Crown Bearer and Equerries
were seated in the 'Crown Coach' - it was
decorated like a crown. The Queen and Maid of
Honour were in long white dresses and the Crown
Bearer and Equerries were dressed in livery.
The retinue of attendants from the Infants
Scbool were seated in the next two or three
decorated floats, all dressed in white and
carrying a wand. The maypole dancers from the
Church School were seated on the rest of the
decorated floats, as also were all the other boys
and girls. Bales of straw were used for seating
and were covered with cloth to keep the children
clean. With the maypole dancers from the Infants
School and five teams of Junior School children,
there were 100 children to entertain.
By 2.00pm all the children are loaded onto
the decorated floats which have been done by
groups of village people. The bands are ready
and it is time to get underway. The late Arthur
Walton was with me and I said to him, "Arthur, go
and fetch the bands!". He went off to the
schoolyard like a shot out of a gun.
There were some committee men standing
with me watching and waiting. Then all at once,
we could hear the bands. We watched them turn
into Chapel Lane until it was full of girls
marching and playing their instruments with such
precision. Any sergeant major would have been
proud of them. Arthur was leading the way as
proud as any sergeant major. I said to the men
with me, "The day is made!". It was a very
The bands were halted at the top of Chapel
Lane. Albert Warner as Town Crier went ahead of
the procession. The senior band was brought
forward past the Miners' Welfare and halted.
This band was to lead the procession. Next was
the Crown Coach with the Maypole Queen and her
attendants, then four decorated floats with
children and after that the second band. Then
came another four decorated floats and the third
band. Following this was the decorated truck
with the four garlands and then one with a mini
maypole. Then came a pony and trap from
Rington's Tea, followed by others.
Everything was now ready and in place to
show the crowds of people how we keep the ancient
triennial Maypole Festival going. The order was
given to the first band to lead the procession up
Chapel Lane out by the New Inn and down Main
Street to Hall Tower Field, with police escort.
Three adult persons walked alongside each float
to ensure the safety of the children.
In 1972, the procession first passed out
onto Aberford Road and along the following route:
Elmwood Lane, Carrfield Road, Leeds Road, Flats
Lane, Gascoigne Avenue, Gascoigne Road, Gascoigne
View, Long Lane, Richmondfield Road,
Richmondfield Avenue, Richmondfield Drive, Long
Lane and Main Street along to Hall Tower Field.
Progress however was slow and the tour of the
Richmondfield estate was cut out.
At the field the Queen was crowned in 1978
by the Lady Mayoress of Leeds. This was followed
by Maypole dancing by the Infants' School
children and five teams of dancing by Junior
School children. After this, there was an
exhibition of playing and marching by the three
girls' bands from Sunderland. The procession is
a wonderful sight as it makes its way down Main
Street. with bands playing and crowds of people
cheering and clapping their hands. On this day
Barwick is truly the Capital of the Ancient
Kingdom of Elmet.
In other years the details of the
procession were different.
1963. The procession was led by the Wakefield Air Training Corps Band and Leeds University Students Scottish Dancers. The
Maypole Queen and attendants sat in a decorated float.
1966 The Bradford Pipe band and Scottish dancers, the Bill Chew Majorettes and a Drum and Bugle band were in attendance. The Queen and attendants were seated in a decorated float.
1969 The Bradford Pipe band and Scottish Dancers. The Queen and attendants were driven in Mr S E Wildblood's Landau.
1972 Three bands from Sunderland and District Association of Juvenile Jazz bands. The Maypole Queen & attendants sat in Mr Townsley's Lagonda.
1975 Kippax Prize band. The Queen and attendants were seated in a decorated float.
1978 Three bands from Sunderland and District Association of Juvenile Jazz bands. The Queen and her attendants were seated in the Crown Coach.