1950’s Press coverage

Skyrack Express
Wednesday 9th June 1954

Barwick Maypole 1954

“A man who got an unusual view of Barwick-in-Elmet, near Leeds, maypole celebrations yesterday was Mr Ken Birch. After a new 100 ft. maypole had been carefully placed in position, Mr Birch, a bricklayer, who was born in the village but now lives in Aberford, climbed it to release the guy ropes used during its erection.

It had been his intention to climb to the top and spin the gold-painted weather vane, shaped like a fox, but he found the surface of the pole to be too slippery. He was about 60 ft. above the centre of the village when Mr John White told him through a loudspeaker ‘Do not take any risks. If it is too slippery do not go on.’ Mr Birch told me afterwards, ‘I wanted to go up because I am 39 now and in another three years when we have our next maypole celebrations, I will be too old for this sort of thing. I have been up a few times before and I also shinned up it once or twice when I was a lad. But that was on the quiet. The pole is slippery because it has been painted with glossy paint, not as before with a flat paint when it was easy.’

There has been a maypole in Barwick for hundreds of years. Every three years it is brought to the ground for inspection and every 12 or 15 years it is replaced. The new pole has been made from two 50 ft. larch trees from the estate of Sir Alvary Gascoigne of Lotherton Hall. The old one was taken down, just as carefully as the new one was erected, on Easter Monday. Shortly after 6 o’clock, the new pole was lifted onto the shoulders of 20 men and, preceded by the Sherburn Old Boys Band, carried to the centre of the village. Buckets of beer were taken round to the helpers hanging grimly to the guy ropes and supporting the pole with ladders and pitch forks. The pole was painted red, white and blue and about half way up there were four garlands made by the Mothers Union, schoolchildren, the British Legion Womens Section and Mrs Jack Cooper. Over 3000 villagers and visitors watched the operation and traffic in all directions was halted.

The celebrations began shortly after lunch with a procession round the village on decorated wagons. The procession finally made its way to Hall Tower Field where Lady Gascoigne crowned the 14 year old Barbara Wilson of Scholes as Maypole Queen. There was archery, Scottish and Morris dancing with a display by the Leeds Sword Club. There was dancing round the maypole in the evening. One of the most disappointed men in the village was Mr Stanley Robshaw, the chairman of the Maypole Committee, who was taken ill yesterday morning and could not be present at the ceremony. The whole event was filmed by a TV newsreel cameraman.”


Skyrack Express
Friday 18th May 1951

Maypole Festivities at Barwick

“The Barwick Maypole committee (newly formed) have every reason for gratification at the marked success of the observance of the ancient custom of raising the Maypole. This ‘triennial’ ceremony had to be postponed last year but last Tuesday any doubts the committee may have had on whether the local and district public would support their efforts to keep this historic custom alive were quickly dispersed.

So dense was the crowd that great difficulty was experienced in the final stages of the task of bringing the redecorated pole to its ‘home’ near the village cross. But thanks to the persuasive efforts of the polemaster (Mr John White) who discharged his onerous duties most efficiently and affably, the Maypole was in due course in a position for raising. There was a great cheer when eventually it was safely and soundly raised.

Mr Kenneth Birch, a Barwick native, now of Leeds, completed this part of the programme by swarming up the 80 ft. pole to give the golden fox with which it is surmounted the traditional spin. The Master of Ceremonies was Mr Stanley Robshaw (Chairman of the Committee) and Mr Arthur Walton was in charge of the ladder party.

The Maypole Queen (Enid Poulter) and her attendents made a charming picture in their lovely costumes. The Queen was duly crowned by Miss Grimshaw who was introduced by the Rev. Canon James Gray. Then came delightful maypole dances by the children of Barwick School, under the direction of the headmaster, Mr Eric Holmes.”

1951 Maypole Gala. The Pole is carried back to its appointed place.
Plenty of Spectators and much Muscle Power on display.
Can you pick out the shirt-sleeved Arthur Walton?

“The winners of the various events were:

1. Decorated wagons: (1) Bill Poulter, (2) Messrs Wetherall and Noble, (3) Alf Reed.
2. Decorated Cycles (1) John Murphy, (2) Ian Stoddart, (3) Jane Croft.
3. Fancy Dress (1) K Altoft, (2) Miss H Croft, (3) Miss J Helm.”

Barwick Beer Festival

The next Barwick Beer Festival is on Saturday 17th October 2015.
Please click here for more details.

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