Whit walks The origin of the Whit Week processions of "Sunday school scholars" (which are still held to this day) dates back to 19 July 1821 when there was a procession of the children of Manchester to commemorate the coronation of George IV. On that day children of all denominations walked in procession from their schools and assembled at Ardwick Green to sing "God save the King". From then on the annual festival flourished and, in the course of time, St Ann's Square became the assembly ground. The numbers continued to grow and this was moved to Albert Square in 1878. Each Whit Friday, local churches or chapels in the region employed bands to lead traditional processions through the streets. Whit Friday was the "Scholars' Walk", or the Church's Annual Day when the girls would have a new dress and the boys would have new trousers, and neighbours, friends and relatives would give a penny for their new clothes. The church officers, clergy and children carried baskets of flowers or ribbons attached to banners. During the 19th century Whitsuntide became an accepted holiday week for all, with the mills shutting down and the workers taking canal boat trips and later, with the coming of the railways, cheap rail excursions. Brass band contests A brass band contest has been held in Stalybridge on Whit Friday since at least 1870. On Whit Friday 1884, 6 June, two further unconnected events in Uppermill and Mossley were held, inadvertently launching an internationally renowned and unique brass band occasion - the Annual Whit Friday Band Contests. The Whit Friday contests are now firmly placed in the brass band calendar and attract thousands of people, whether musicians or spectators, to listen to brass band music. The bands' discipline, stamina, and organisational skills are tested to the limit. Each of the contests on the Whit Friday circuit is organised by a dedicated committee who organise their own contest prizes. (Wikipedia)
The day moves from community walking to represent church allegiance, through an afternoon of kids sports in the park then from about 4pm the bands start arriving by the coach load.
Saddleworth, where we live, is made up of several villages with wonderful names such Springhead, Uppermill, Diggle, Delph and Dobcross. But for the last 24 years I have gone to Greenfield the home of my in-laws. Amongst many video clips I could have shown I picked one of the best known bands "Brighouse & Rastrick" Tragically in 2010 a fatal accident involving a band coach and pedestrian cut the contest short. In 2011 the award winning band played "There is a green Hill far away" on the spot as a mark of respect for a lover of Brass music.
Not all the music is quite as sombre and some of the bands are their with no chance of winning so just take it for fun. HERE is a video of several bands that I recorded at last years contest.