Yorkshire and proud – Saddleworth flies flag for white rose county

IT is only celebrated once a year but every day is Yorkshire Day for people of a particular floral persuasion.

And the traditionalists whose allegiance remains firmly to the White Rose county were once again out in force for the annual recognition of Saddleworth’s historic roots.

The placing of a garland of white roses on the statue in Uppermill of Denshaw-born dialect poet Ammon Wrigley and the reading of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity by Bob Rodgers are the ceremonial highlights of the occasion.

The works of HB Whitehead, another Saddleworth poet, were recited by Gilbert Symes while Delph Band defied incessant rain to play a selection of tunes including On Ilkley Moor Bar t’At.

Dignitaries included Cllr Pam Byrne, chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, who laid the garland, Cllr Elaine Garry, the Mayor of Oldham, and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams.

Greenfield resident Alan Spencer, a relation of Ammon Wrigley, also watched on before joining a procession along the High Street to King George V playing fields to continue the festivities with a Yorkshire Fayre.

The Feet First ‘cloggers’ may have been from Chesterfield and their steps rooted in the Appalachian mountains. But as one wag suggested: “It’s a Yorkshire disco.”

Geoff Bayley, chairman of Saddleworth White Rose Society, said: “Some doubters claim Saddleworth is no longer in Yorkshire because we are no longer governed by a Yorkshire based local authority.

“Up until March 31, 1974, Saddleworth was governed by the West Riding County Council based in Wakefield.

“On April 1, 1974, local government for Saddleworth was transferred to the newly created Borough of Oldham, as a result on the Local Government Act of 1972.

“Saddleworth was administered as part of the West Riding wapentake (sub division of a county) of Agbrigg from at least the 12th century until 1888 when the West Riding County Council was created by the Local Government Act of 1886.

“The WRCC was abolished in 1974 by the Local Government Act of 1972. It was the WRCC which was abolished – NOT the West Riding.

“This change was for administrative purpose only.  Saddleworth remains in Yorkshire, where it has been for over 1,000 years. Geographically, Saddleworth is 53 percent of the present Borough of Oldham.”

That message is re-enforced by the Declaration of Integrity: “Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York with these boundaries of 1,146 years standing.

“That the county address of ALL places in these Ridings is Yorkshire.

“That all persons born therein or resident therein and being loyal to the Ridings are regarded as Yorkshiremen and Yorkshirewomen.

“It should be understood that any person or corporate body who deliberately ignores or denies the afore mentioned, then they shall forfeit all claims to Yorkshire status and the benefits thereof.”

  • Yorkshire Day is celebrated each year on the Sunday closest to August 1, which was chosen to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Minden in 1759 where the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who wore white roses in their headdresses, played a prominent role in victory over the French.

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