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Barwick Maypole

From the Barwicker No.72
December 2003

The Skyrack Express of 25 May 1934 includes this splendid article on the maypole ceremonies of that time. Once again we are very grateful to Dorothy Hague and Muriel Rushton for supplying us with Christian names in the instances where only the initials are given of the participants on this memorable day.




The triennial festival to celebrate the re-erecting of "Ye Olde Village Maypole" at Barwick took place on Whit-Tuesday with all the usual excitement and glamour that has been previously observed.

A steady influx of visitors commenced early in the morning, but in the afternoon the roads were thronged with motorists and hundreds of hikers, all eager to witness the ancient and time-honoured ceremony of rearing the pole.

The carnival which precedes the rearing of the maypole is also a survivor of an ancient custom, and once again the old traditions were respectfully carried out to the minutest detail.

To the delight of the whole community the sun made his most welcome appearance just in time to reveal the full splendour and give added charm to the procession, which was headed by the Garforth Brass Band. Following the band were Messrs. Arthur Lovett, Tom Robshaw, Ernest Harrison (committee-men) and Tom Bell, bearing the beautiful maypole garlands. Next followed the uncrowned queen and her retinue in an elegantly decorated waggon, which later was awarded first prize. Following the queen and her court were the famous maypole plaiters, also in a beautifully decorated waggon, as were the country dancers who followed them.

Master Cyril Speak, as "Puss in Boots", was the cause of much mirth as the procession wended its course up the main street and round Chapel Lane, finally to arrive in the field adjoining the Rectory grounds.

The May Queen, along with her retinue on the platform, made an extremely pretty picture. Then followed the crowning of the May Queen, Miss Nellie Robshaw (aged 12), a native of Barwick-in-Elmet, who had been chosen by her school-fellows.

Mrs Gascoigne of Lotherton Hall, performed the ceremony, and was presented by Miss Annice Firth with a beautiful bouquet of purple orchids. The train bearers were Rene Kemp and Michael Ashworth, and the crown bearer Denis Morton. The maids-of-honour were Betty Day, Kathleen Lovett, Dorothy Lovett, Audrey Ashworth, Carrie Lund, Eva Durham, Edna Cowell, Audrey Curtis, Mary Burnell, D.Holroyd and Audrey Woodhead; and the equerries Ronnie Whitfield and Peter Dawson.

The maypole-plaiters, to music provided by Garforth Brass Band, skipped daintily round the miniature maypole, weaving intricate spiders' webs, barbers' poles, etc., with red, yellow, blue and green ribbons. The plaiters were Mary Poulter, Roy Firth, Fred Coulthard, D. Durham, May Tennant, Oliver Lund, Edwin Moore, Margaret Kirk, Eric Cullen, Betty Binns, Betty Poulter, Betty Coulthard, William Poulter, Geoffrey Collett, Margaret Morton and Ian Ashworth.

The country dancers, who also played an important part, accompanied by the band, were:
Maidens - Mildred Bullen, Joyce Hewitt, Hilda Sanderson, Muriel Hague, Annice Firth, Lily Garbutt, Marion Bullen, Enid Wright and Gladys Hick.

Boys - D. Durham, Harold Whitfield, Wilfed Harrison, Kenneth Speak, Jack Lovett, Jack Cooper, Jack Coulthard, Raymond Pennington & Donald Rushton.

A boys' ambulance team gave a skilful display of their work, which was much appreciated. After tea the band played appropriate music, and led the villagers and visitors to fetch the renovated maypole, which had been in the Hall Tower Field since Easter. Five ropes had been attached by which to rear the maypole; and many ladders had been padded to prevent the pole from being scratched while resting on them. After a little manoeuvring the pole was raised to perpendicular height in record time, thanks to the master of ceremonies Mr. Ned Wilson, who for many years fulfilled his duty, and also to the way the committee worked.

As is usual, Mr George Oldfield consented to scale the pole and release the five ropes, and did so with great agility. Seated on the garlands over fifty feet high, he acknowledged the crowd's applause. Afterwards the crowds began to disperse, but not before showing their appreciation by contributing to the collection for Mr George Oldfield. The band returned to the Rectory Field where they played for open-air dancing until late in the evening.

Mr Tom Braithwaite was awarded first prize for decorated waggon, Mr Roland Payley second and Mr John Thorp third. The judges were Mr Jefferson (Scholes) and Mr Tom Bell (Potterton).

Great credit for the splendid performance by the school-children was partly due to the tuition of Mr G.Ashworth, Miss Grimshaw and Miss Shillito. The committee members had worked very hard to ensure the day's success. Apart from the manual labour, the committee had to take the rebuffs of several misinformed people who were unable to understand the expenses connected with the event and also the risk attached to it.

About 10.45pm an interesting running commentary was given from the BBC North Regional Programme by Mr Bernard Stubbs, an interested spectator at the day's proceedings. Unfortunately he was a little misinformed concerning the maypole garlands, and stated that they were not now made by the ladies of the village as they were in olden times. In this statement he was wrong, as several of the villagers contributed towards the making of them in various ways, some giving flowers and others scraps, of silk etc. Mrs and Miss Summerskill were responsible for one, the members of the Mothers' Union for another, the cottagers of Potterton Hall for the third and Mesdames Hewitt and Cooper for the fourth. Each garland was made of hundreds of gay silk rosettes and artificial flowers, red, white and blue ribbons and coins, and also a basket of flowers swinging at the base of the garland where they will remain for another three years.

(From the Skyrack Express of 25 May, 1934)

Barwick School Miss Shillito's class 1932

The photograph above, which has already shows many of the children who are named in this article and a few who are included in an account of the Barwick Maypole 1931
Back Row - Miss Shillito, Hubert (Bob) Hewitt, Roy Tomlinson, Geoffrey Collett, William Poulter, Harry Thorp, Dudley Bull.
Third Row - Sidney Lonsdale, Betty Day, Kathleen Lovett, Mary Burnell, Rene Cross, Betty Coulthard, Betty Poulter, Betty Binns, May Tennant, George Burnell, Peter Alvin.
Second Row - Peter Dawson, Edna Cowell, Audrey Ashworth, Tony Gilliam, Edward Poulter, Rita Stone, Audrey Woodhead, Ernest Robshaw, Fred Coulthard.
Front Row - Ian Ashworth, Dennis Morton, Derek Oldfield, Ronald Whitfield, Jim Hannam, Charlie Lovett, Eric Hannam,

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