The glory days of Golborne Carnival*

The glory days of Golborne Carnival*

The celebration of May Day is a longstanding national custom, even royalty collected May dew as a beauty charm.

In the past May Day revels commenced with the Morris dancers who assembled at Lowton church and paraded through the district and a special festival in honour of the May Queen developed from these celebrations.  The first May Queen festival in Golborne was held in 1880, mainly organised by a local tradesman, Alfred Caunce.  The children taking part marched in procession along Park Vue, Legh St and High St, returning to a field kindly lent by John Caunce where a May-pole had been erected.  The youngsters danced around the May-pole, sang the National Anthem and afterwards enjoyed tea and buns.  A Miss Jane Waddington was the first Queen of the May and the ceremony passed off without a single mishap to the great delight of the entire village.  Visitors attended from miles around and the ceremony developed into an annual event, which continued to attract an ever increasing number of visitors.  Various side shows were added including swings, roundabouts, Aunt Sallys, plaiting the May-pole, climbing the greasy pole and other such novelties.

One attraction of special interest was Billy Jackson’s Clogwollopers.  Eight boys, all of them under fourteen of age, dressed in white shirts, black pants and gilded clogs with straw hats perched on the back of their heads, gave a display of clog dancing.  Besides this they also performed tricks on a penny farthing bicycle.  After giving displays at local events , the party was invited to perform on Blackpool’s Central Pier, which in turn led to the boys travelling to London and performing at various music halls.  Whilst in London they made the acquaintance of the one and only Charlie Chaplin, who also wished to become a clog dancer and was trained as a reserve for the boys!  After touring the country, the original group broke up although a few members kept the show together and toured Australia, France, Germany and Russia.

*Source – A History of Golborne by James Bridge

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