Thefts Before 1876 Back to the Main Historical Society page
Back to the Barwicker Contents page

Thefts Before 1876

From the Barwicker No.90
June 2008

The tradition of local villages stealing the maypole goes back well into the nineteenth and possibly eighteenth centuries. The earliest theft that can be accurately dated is the 1876 one by the Garforth colliers. However hints of thefts in earlier times also survive.

A story that was told in the village in the late 1880s refers to an earlier theft by Thorner. Several Thorner lads were carrying the maypole away from Barwick late one night down Workhouse Lane (now part of Rakehill Road). A Barwick blacksmith was returning home when he heard the unusual tramp of feet. His curiosity being aroused, he pushed his way through a hedge and in doing so his leather blacksmith's apron caused a loud rattle. The Thorner lads took fright and dropped the pole and ran off.

Whilst Aberford has successfully removed the pole twice, in 1907 and 1966, they also attempted some time before 1876, although the Barwick villagers were on their guard and prevented it.

Another theft reference is contained in the verses of Edward Burlend. He was born in 1813 in Horsforth, but grew up in Barwick, living here between 1817 and the 1830s. He was a mainly self-educated man and eventually became a schoolteacher in Swillington. A talented poet he published a selection of his poems in 1869 in a book called "Village Rhymes".

One of the verses is entitled "Barwick-in-Elmet" and in it he recalls his childhood in the village. It contains a reference to a theft of the pole in the 1820s. (This verse was re-printed in The Barwicker No.5).

David Teal

Back to the top
Back to the Main Historical Society page
Back to the Barwicker Contents page