Sunday, 4 December 2011

Woodcroft. Church "Walking Days" and Rose Queens........'50's and 60's.

Sunnyside Baptist procession passing the Globe Slipper works. 1935
This is me outside No 12 East Street ready to go to the St Paul's Walking Day
Our small community of streets had a  rhythm to it, which included the local churches. The nearest one to Woodcroft was Sunnyside Baptist Church, where my parents were married in 1942. They then went on to attend the Anglican church St Paul's Constable Lee,  which had a school attached. This was where I and my other childhood friends began our education.
Looking at the picture of the valley now, most of the fields behind the streets to the right, as far as the factory, with it's chimney, in the distance, are now houses.These were the fields where we used to roam and play.The steep hillside in the foreground is still the same if you care to climb it! The view is always good from that vantage point. 
Looking towards the factory and the five streets situated just in front, which was known as the Woodcroft" area 

Sunnyside Baptist Church held a Rose Queen procession, and most of my young friends were on the lorry which carried the tableau.        

Parents would be involved in decorating the lorries which carried the Rose Queen and her attendants, and there would always be the great traditional Brass Band. There were several Brass Bands in the Rossendale Valley, and our local one was Goodshaw Band. It gave us all a feeling of excitement to see them marching and playing.
The first "Walking Day" of each year, would be the St James the Less RC church, the second Sunday in May, and everyone lined the roadside to watch the procession pass by.The girls in their "First Communion" white dresses and veils. After which they would be able to take part in the Mass.  
St Paul's Anglican Constable Lee procession.
In the Anglican churches which surrounded the town of Rawtenstall, each of the girl's Sunday School classes wore the same dress material. Not being party to the mother's decisions about it, I am assuming they all got together and decided which material to buy, and also who would make up the dresses. I remember each year going to be fitted for my dress, at the house of someone my mother knew, and to me she seemed to permanently have a mouth full of dressmaking pins! I had to stand on a chair, when I was younger to have the hem pinned up. The patterns were not uniformly the same, but the effect was pleasing.
The younger children walked in twos, between two long rope cords, which they held in one hand, depending whether they were on the left or right. You can see these in the photo above.  And sometimes small flower baskets were carried.
My dad, Leslie Smith, in his "banner " shirt and trousers. (1930's)  Before going to St Mary's Cof E church to help carry their banner.   
 Each church had it's own banner and the older boys dressed in white shirts and black, or white trousers, helped the men to carry them. In windy weather it was quite a feat to keep them upright. All of the local Anglican churches in Rawtenstall, then paraded along the main road, each from their muster point, eventually arriving at the town centre for a united church service. This was always in July. It was known as a United Procession of Witness. Each band could be heard, along with the Scout band of St Mary's Parish Church, converging on the piece of waste ground in the centre.The banners flapping in the breeze. These were laid against the wall of the Pavilion cinema opposite.
So the service commenced. Children fidgeted, and we all let our minds wander! Once it was finished, we  returned to our own church, and hall, and had a tea party, followed by what was commonly known as a Field Day. We would be accompanied to a nearby field which had been mown, and spent a wonderful late afternoon, having a mini Field Sports day. It was a special occasion in the calendar year.            
St Paul's Anglican Church leaving the Rawtenstall Town centre after a United Service of Witness

Sunnyside Baptist Church Rose Queen Lorry. 

As I attended St Paul's Church, I also  had a lot of friends who went to Sunnyside Baptist. Their Rose Queen procession was a grand sight. And this photo is an evocative reminder of summer days as kids, when the sun always seemed to shine. I can smell the freshness of the leaves on the trees and catch again the scent of bluebells in those woods.   

St Paul's leaving the Town centre after the service.  

The "First Communion" girls of St James the Less RC church parading along Burnley Road, Rawenstall. The 2nd Sunday in May.  

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