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Barwick Maypole Gala 1963

From the Barwicker No.80
December 2005

The following article appeared in the Skyrack Express of 19 April 1963 under the headings:


Villagers work for two hours lowering their maypole


"Amid the dampness of a chilly Easter Monday there were many warm brows among the villagers of Barwick on Monday evening, when the 85 feet maypole, which now rests in Hall Tower Field awaiting its repaint before the triennial Whitsun raising ceremony and maypole gala. At intervals during the operation, buckets of beer provided refreshment for the helpers.

The toughest job of all, however, was again entrusted to Arthur Nichols, of Upper Barnbow Farm, Barwick, who was watched in anxious silence as he climbed the pole at the outset of the operation to fix five guide ropes essential to the lowering of the huge pole. Arthur, however, carried out his duty almost nonchalantly, to be rewarded afterwards by the traditional collection among onlookers. In charge of the operation once more was the experienced village polemaster, Mr John White, while Mr Arthur Walton supervised the 'Ladder squad' and members of the Maypole Committee were at the guiding end of the five ropes. The pole was later carried on the shoulders of Barwickians to its resting place for seven weeks in Hall Tower Field.

The removal of the maypole is the traditional moment of the resignation of the Maypole Committee of the previous three years. The meeting for the appointment of the new committee was begun at the Cross and adjourned to the Day School. The chairman, Mr Stanley Robshaw, thanked his fellow officers and committee for their work during the past three years, after which the whole committee was re-elected en-bloc with the addition of two new members.

Appointments were: Chairman, Mr Stanley Robshaw; Secretary, Dr Derek Smith; Treasurer, Mr W Leighton Smith; Assistant Secretary, Mr L Smith; Polemaster, Mr John White; Committee, Messrs. Arthur Walton, Alf Reed, George Kirk, Edmund Poulter, Oliver Lund, Alf Atkinson, John Walton, Norman Hunter, Bill Firth, Eric Grey, John Leak, Derek Burks.

Thanks were expressed to the Headmaster Mr Eric Holmes and his staff, for their contribution in training local children for the Maypole ceremonies."

Two photographs illustrate the text; (1) "Polemaster, Mr J White, directs operations as the pole is lowered in this picture, to which a background is provided by Barwick's Methodist Church.", (2) "Well-earned refreshments for Arthur Nichols, after his climb."

The following article was published in the 'Skyrack Express' of / June 1963 under the headings;


A television personality is quickly spotted by village's visitors

"Barwick's day of celebration - the Whit Tuesday ceremony of raising the 90-feet maypole in the village square following its triennial re-painting - was blessed with summery weather and probably the biggest crowd of visitors the village has ever known. Some 3000 adults paid for admission to the afternoon gala and these and the hundreds of children were supplemented in the evening by thousands more who moved into the village for the actual pole-raising ceremony. One Barwick official estimated that Barwick was packed with up to 9000 people during the day.

And recognised instantly by many hundreds of the visitors was one of Barwick's weekend guests, Mr Bamber Gascoigne, who presides over the TV educational quiz programme, 'University Challenge', and his mother. Mrs Gascoigne is the cousin of Lady Coates of Helperby Hall, and her family are distant kinsmen of the local land-owning family of Gascoigne. Mother and son were guests of their friends, the Rector of Barwick, Rev. Norman Butcher and Mrs Butcher.

For the first time horses were dispensed with for the traditional procession through the village to Hall Tower Field, scene of the gala. The motorised procession was headed by the Maypole Queen, Barbara Tillett, her maid-of-honour, Greta Caulston, and other attendants and was watched by crowds packing the narrow streets. Mr Arthur Walton, mounted on a piebald horse, rode ahead.

At a ceremony presided over by the Rector, the crowning of Barbara as Queen was performed by Lady Ropner, accompanied by her husband, Sir Leonard Ropner, MP for Barkston Ash. The children of Barwick paraded before their Maypole Queen, who showed commendable poise in her address to the big crowd. Mrs Butcher presented gifts on behalf of the Maypole Committee to their Maypole Queen and her attendants and there was a highly diverting little speech from Bamber Gascoigne. The fete continued in Hall Tower Field graced by warm sunshine until 6.0pm, when attention was switched to the serious and not unskilful job of re-erecting the maypole.

A team of men began digging a five-foot hole near the war memorial in the village centre and, shortly afterwards, other villagers carried the maypole from Hall Tower Hill. The colourfully decorated pole - garlands had been made by women's organisations in the village - was slowly raised by ladder and rope-men under the general supervision of local experts Mr Stanley Robshaw (director), Mr John White (pole master) and Mr Arthur Walton (ladder party). An hour later it was back in place, there to stay for another three years.

The whole job was a two-hour operation, during which the traditional buckets of beer were made available for helpers. Finally, to the intense admiration of the thousands who were watching, 22 year-old Arthur Nichols, of Upper Barnbow Farm, Barwick climbed the pole to unhook the guy ropes and then went on to the top where, to the applause of the audience, he gave the weather vane a traditional spin and waved his cap. Arthur, for whom it was a second Whitsun ascent, seemed to enjoy his nerve-racking job. He certainly earned the collection which was taken for him among the crowd. As night fell, Leeds Morris men danced round the maypole, then it was all over.

Barwick, which had gone en-fete with its homes decorated, balloons floating in the streets and a fair along Main Street, was later to bed than usual. Next morning, all was serene and calm once more, the maypole looking a picture in its new paint and garlands against the blue of an unclouded sky.

Four photographs illustrated the article: (1) Bamber Gascoigne addresses the audience, (2) A general view of of maypole dancing by (3) The Rector of Barwick, Rev. Norman Butcher, speaking before the ceremony, (4) The maypole being slowly hoisted.

From the 'Skyrack Express'

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