Whit Walk celebrations

AS SADDLEWORTH prepares to celebrate Whit Friday, Father Christopher Halliday looks at the origin of the historic tradition.

WALK OF FAITH: Last year's Whit Walks
WALK OF FAITH: Last year’s Whit Walks

ON FRIDAY May 24 the villages of Saddleworth will once again be filled with the sounds of brass bands and processions of people from the Churches celebrating Whit Friday.

Whit walks have a very long tradition in both Yorkshire and Lancashire, dating back to the middle of the 19th century.

Some towns still actually walk on Whit Sunday, Pentecost, the 50th day of the Easter celebration. Some towns walk on Whit Monday – and Saddleworth walks on Friday.

Some call Pentecost (Whit Sunday) the birthday of the Church because it celebrates the story in the New Testament when the disciples of Jesus finally went out into the market place in Jerusalem and began talking about the resurrection of Jesus.

It marks a special moment for the Church and is the end of the Easter season. So the tradition of walking out that day with church banners and people all dressed up in the new summer clothes arose.

In order to make an even bigger impact, churches began asking their local brass bands to accompany them on their walks around the parish. The people would stop at street corners and sing their favourite hymns inviting people to join in with them.

Once the walk was finished the brass bands would then often meet up in town and play together or against each other, and so the band contests began.

On this Whit Friday we invite you to join us across Saddleworth to celebrate, to sing and to enjoy the wonderful brass band music we are world renowned for.

Whit Friday Processions of Witness start at 9.30am for Saddleworth Church, Uppermill Methodist and Ebenezer, Diggle Village and Kiln Green, Dobcross churches, Lydgate Church and Friezland Church, who congregate for a united service at the King George V Playing Field in Uppermill at 11am. Greenfield, Delph and Denshaw churches hold their own processions.

Meanwhile, the Scouthead & Austerlands Band Contest welcome new adjudicator Allan Ramsay, regarded as one of Scotland’s most successful recent conductors.

He learned the cornet aged seven before studying trumpet and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and has National and Solo Championship titles to his name.

He has been bandmaster for the Govan Citadel Band, the Kirkintilloch Band, and the Co-operative Funeralcare Band, as well as adjudicating throughout the UK.

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