Come and listen to the bands – again

DELIGHTED BANDSMEN will march at Scouthead and Austerland’s Whit Friday contest after authorities agreed there will be no repeat of last year’s restrictions which threatened the event’s future.

A decision by Greater Manchester Police four weeks before the event to remove of traffic management controls at 10.30 p.m meant the event was cut short while others continued as late as midnight.

Bands march at Whit Friday
Bands march at Whit Friday

This led to the committee announcing contests would not continue – a decision which has now been reversed after assurances via Oldham Council the same thing will not happen again.

David Needham, secretary of the Scouthead & Austerlands committee, said: “We are delighted to announce our 36th contest will take place next Whit Friday after all.

“To remove any uncertainty regarding the finishing time, traffic control at this year’s event will be handled by a nationwide traffic management specialist.

“This should enable us to guarantee that bands, who register by 11.00 pm, will have sufficient time to ‘march up’ before the midnight cut-off.”

The committee approached the council after being lobbied by residents, other Whit Friday committees and the brass band community who petitioned for the event to continue.

As is tradition, the Mayor of Austerlands will lead a band along Huddersfield Road to Dawson’s Field bearing the clog-iron chain of office to begin the contest.

Mr Needham said the Mayor to bear the honour will be confirmed nearer to the timeand described it as ‘a bit of fun’ to help bring the contest to life.

He added: “We should like to express our gratitude to GMP for their handling of traffic control at our contest for the past 35 years.

“The Rochdale police team’s attitude and efficiency generated enormous good will in our community – they used to receive a round of applause at the end of the night.”

Landlord of the Three Crowns at Scouthead,  Ray Hicks welcomed the continuation of the contest, whose popularity is proven by his packed-out pub on Whit Fridays.“It’s nothing but good news for all concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile, the future of the Greenfield Whit Friday band contest is guaranteed with the appointment of new officials and committee members.

Frank Rothwell, owner of Manchester Cabins and Another Level Car Parks, is chairman, June Riley, secretary, and Glynis Williamson, treasurer.

Retiring secretary Joe Buckley, who was involved for more than 40 years, said: “I knew we would find the right officials.

“My role now will be to assist, give advice and boost their new committee in confidence to help them grow and develop.”

And in Uppermill, the committee is calling for help with the physical preparations of their contest to continue the 125-year tradition as chairman Terry Hopkinson retires.

Secretary Pam Byrne, who joined 16 years ago, said: “We’re looking for people to take on committee roles and more importantly to help on the day.  We’ll help them out for two or three years to show them what to do.”

The committee received a letter from Buckingham Palace after their 2012 Whit Friday programme, featuring the Queen’s Jubilee, was archived at Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

The Greenfield committee is looking for additional volunteers. Anyone interested should contact Frank Rothwell: 01457 820719 or June Riley: 01457 871139.

To help Uppermill committee, call Terry Hopkinson: 01457 876010 or Pam Byrne: 01457 820149.

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