In 1849, Charlotte Brontë described the Whitsuntide walks as "a joyous scene, and a scene to do good." Her novel Shirley contains a vivid description of the event in West Yorkshire. Until relatively recent times, Saddleworth was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire but the tradition persisted throughout the North West.
Each church or chapel marches in procession through the streets. The local bands would of course lead the processions but many churches hired bands from afar. Bands would arrive from throughout Yorkshire and the North West, playing as they marched from the station.
Each procession starts from the local school, the band in the lead ahead of the church banner. Then come the church dignitaries, assorted choirs and scout or guide troops. Finally the local families, the boys in their best suits and the girls all in white -
The contests began as a sequel to the afternoon festivities. Sadly, most of these walks have now transferred to the preceding Whit Sunday but Saddleworth and Mossley still walk on Whit Friday morning seeking to stay faithful to all the traditional Whit Friday activities, of which the band contest is just a part.
Friezland Christ Church with Lydgate St Anne's Church accompanied by Lydgate Band
Dobcross marching to Uppermill
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