1930′s Press coverage

Skyrack Express
Friday 21st May 1937

Barwick village Maypole re-erected

Miss Yvonne Gascoigne crowns The Queen

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. A steady influx of visitors began early in the morning, and by the early afternoon all the roads were thronged with people all eager to watch the ancient, time-honoured ceremony of raising the pole.

The carnival, which precedes the rearing of the maypole, is also a survival of an ancient custom, and again the old traditions were observed to the minutest detail. To the delight of the crowd, the sun was on its best behaviour, giving warmth and added charm to the procession, which was headed by the Garforth Brass Band.

The 1937 Maypole Queen, Betty Binns, and her attendents.
(Photograph kindly supplied by Brian Foxcroft, Betty’s nephew.)

The May Queen (Miss Betty Binns), a schoolgirl of 13, and her retinue followed in a profusely-decorated waggon, and then came the maypole-plaiters and the country dancers, also in beautifully decorated waggons. Three more decorated waggons competed for a prize, and helped to make the procession a memorable one. The fourth waggon presented a Dutch tableau, complete with windmill and a Dutch family, playing midst a blaze of tulips. A striking picture was presented by a fifth waggon, on which was a tableau representing the Empire; and the last was a cheerful little cart trimmed in Coronation colours. There was one entrant in the fancy dress parade – a junior who created much mirth as a small teddy bear. The procession wended its course along Main Street and down Chapel Lane to the Hall Tower Field.

The May Queen and her courtiers, on the platform erected for the crowning ceremony, presented a charming ensemble. The Queen was crowned by Miss Yvonne Gascoigne, with whom were Mrs Gascoigne and Lady Ashdown. The Rector introduced the visitors, and also on the platform were Mrs Lovell Clark and Mrs Keed. Miss Gascoigne also presented the May Queen with a bouquet of carnations, and herself received a bouquet of iris from Rita Senior, on behalf of the teachers and scholars.

The train-bearers to the Queen were Margaret Birch and Frank Poulter, attired in white. Michael Ashworth was the crown-bearer, and Walter Barrett and Derick Burke the equerries. The eighteen Maids of Honour looked very dainty, in white, all having been chosen from the Primary Class.

The plaiters skipped daintily round the miniature Maypole weaving spiders’ webs and barbers’ poles, etc., in various colours. An attractive display was given by the Country dancers from the Senior Class, who wore old-country costumes; the girls’ dresses of floral cotton with bonnets to match, and the boys smocks. The Garforth Brass Band played for the ceremony.

Other diversions included a Punch and Judy show and an excellent concert party from Leeds. The judges of the decorated waggons placed Mr Verity first, Mr. Tom Braithwaite 2nd, and Mrs Bedford 3rd. The judges were Mr Ward and Mr Binns of Scholes. The prize for the best pair of plough horses was divided between Mr John Thorp of Barwick and Mr Helm of Aberford. All the entrants for swarming the greasy pole to retrieve a ham were unsuccessful.

The pets’ competition was won by a small terrier, the property of Miss Brenda Cooper, and Miss Jean Kirk got the second prize for a Persian cat and kitten; the third prize going to Miss Elam of Wyke Beck Farm, Halton, with a small Berkshire pig of much fame, which accompanies her on shopping expeditions.

Towards evening the band led the villagers and visitors to fetch the giant pole (all beautifully renovated and bearing a paint flag in honour of Coronation year) from the Hall Tower Field, where it had gone through a course of “beauty treatment” under the expert hands of Mr Dennis Armitage. On the return with the pole, Cr. Hemingway headed the Band, who played very appropriate music. The beautiful garlands, the newly gilded fox, and the red, white and blue stripes of the pole were all most effective. Five ropes had been secured to the pole for the purpose of guiding and assisting the rearing, and ladders of various sizes were used, all padded to avoid scratching the paint.

After very careful work, the Pole was raised to perpendicular height, to the cheers of the huge crowd, and to the strains of “Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue”. All that remained was for someone to scale the pole to release the ropes. This Mr Frank Tennant did with remarkable agility. Not only did he release the ropes but he swarmed to the top and turned the fox round. This feat was greeted with a storm of applause.

Great credit for the excellent performance of the schoolchildren is due to Mr G. Ashworth and Misses Grimshaw and Shillito. The people responsible for the garlands were members of the Mothers’ Union, Mrs Cooper and family, Misses Nora and Marian Lovett and the schoolchildren. Mrs Wood of Potterton Hall provided the children with the red, white and blue ribbons, with which to decorate the garlands. The organising committee was Messrs. Fred Robshaw, Walter Lovett and Ernest Harrison.


Skyrack Express
Friday 25th May 1934

Barwick village Maypole re-erected amidst joyous enthusiasm

Mrs Gascoigne crowns the May Queen

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.


Skyrack Express
Friday 29th May 1931

Barwick Maypole re-erected with much enthusiasm

Miss Ethel Nussey crowns the May Queen

The ancient and time-honoured ceremony of erecting the Maypole at Barwick-in-Elmet again materialised on Whit Tuesday. Every three years this takes place, the pole being taken down on Easter Monday, and, after a fresh painting of its neat coloured stripes, it is re-erected on Whit-Tuesday. Interest in this old-time event has by no means abated, for there were crowds of people from the adjacent villages, and, indeed from far afield. There were motorists and hikers in hundreds, evidently taking a keen interest in this survival of a custom which is hundreds of years old.

Just a word as to the pole itself. Measuring some ninety feet in length, and weighing 35 cwt., the Maypole is guided in its upward career by four ropes, but the real onus of its erection is on the hundred men who, using ladders as props, struggled with the law of gravity, while nervous people in the crowd wondered what would happen if the men found the task too much for them. Perhaps they were thinking of the time when the ropes gave way and the pole crashed to the ground. But a different fate awaited it this time, for with much manoeuvring to get it above the angle of 45 degrees, the pole was eventually raised to the perpendicular, amidst loud cheers.

It had taken exactly three quarters of an hour – 20 minutes less than last time. Two of the older villagers tossed for the honour of climbing to the top. Mr George Oldfield was the lucky one (or unlucky one, some may have thought) and with remarkable agility he clambered up the slender pole, to the delight and envy of everybody.

The carnival procession commenced at three o’clock, and thousands of people gathered to see it. The Garforth Brass Band headed the way, followed by two decorated waggons bearing the May Queen and her court, also the maypole plaiters, who were followed on foot by the boy country dancers. After reaching the Hall Tower Field, the decorated waggons were judged. The May Queen was helped to alight and take her position on the platform with her Court around her. Miss Ethel Nussey, of Bramley Grange, Thorner, then came forward to crown her, also to present her with a beautiful bouquet of pink and red roses, and a huge box of chocolates.

The orchestra commenced to play, and the children, with red, green, blue and yellow ribbons round them for sashes, plaited the pole. At intervals between the plaiting, the older schoolchildren gave exhibitions of country dancing, to give the young plaiters a rest. All the children were a great credit to their tutors, and the performance was thoroughly enjoyed by the thousand of spectators who crowded the field and made the hall Tower Hill look like a tremendous garland, with all its various colours.

The May Queen (Miss Margaret Bowes) was chosen by the village schoolchildren, getting fifty-one votes out of sixty.
Her train bearers were Miss Rena Cross and Master Ian Ashworth.
The crown bearer was Eric Cullen and the two pages Cyril Speak and C. Smith;
maids of honour, Betty Binns, Betty Coulthard, Betty Poulter,
M.Burland, Monica Coats, Margaret Kirk, Catherine Lovett and Hilda Sanderson.
The plaiters were Mary Walton, Margaret Morton, Muriel Hague, Joyce Hewitt, Celia Poulter, Marion Bullen, Rene Robshaw, Lily Lund, Gladys Hick, Marion Burdon, Mary Poulter, Annice and Ellen Firth and Nellie Robshaw.
Country dancers were:
Boys – Robin Prince, John Hague, Jack Markham,
Jim Bell, George Armitage, Alfred Poulter and Herbert Cooper.
Girls : Doris Sanderson, Marion Lovett, Doris Green, Mary Armitage, Barbara Allison, Edith Oldfield and Ivy Bullen.

The sports took place after this, and were very much enjoyed. Much amusement as caused by the pistol, which refused to “go off,” and many were the times when the competitors had to be called back! The maypole was carried out of the field at 6.30pm and at 7.45pm was safely back in its correct position. Mr George Oldfield climbed up to the garlands and loosed the ropes. Then he went up to the very top and gave the fox a good spin.

The Maypole Queen, Margaret Bowes, and her attendants.
Photo supplied by her daughter Pauline Robson.

After this, dancing was begun, and was carried on until dark, which brought to an end a perfect day. An aeroplane was seen hovering quite low and close to the Maypole as soon as it had been reared.


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