Celebrating 40 years of Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing festival revival with packed 2017 event this weekend

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival returns this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 1, 2 and 3, 2017
Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival returns this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 1, 2 and 3, 2017

Ancient tradition meets the modern love of entertainment when Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing takes to the streets this weekend for the 40th anniversary of its revival.

A get-together event on Friday night, September 1, will be followed by events around Sowerby Bridge, Warley, Sowerby, Triangle and Ripponden over the course of Saturday, September 2, and Sunday, September 3.

One of the few places where the Rushbearing tradition still takes place, it was revived in Sowerby Bridge in 1977.

Historically, it dates back several centuries to the time when church floors consisted of little more than stone flags or beaten earth and rushes were used as a winter covering. A highlight is the rushbearing procession around seven towns and villages, visiting many churches and local hostelries along the way.

The focal point of the procession is the 16 feet high, two-wheeled, handsomely decorated and thatched rushcart.

A team of young women take turns to ride on top of the cart as it is pulled by 60 local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs.

Accompanying them are supporters in Edwardian dress along with some of the region’s finest musicians and morris dancing teams to provide entertainment.

Fifteen different dance teams will perform.

In addition to the actual Rushbearing procession and Morris Dancing, a wide range of events to enjoy over the Rushbearing weekend include Friday night live music at the Hog’s Head, Sowerby Bridge, Saturday entertainment focussed around the Marketplace, Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge, with the Sowerby Bridge Horticultural Society show at St Paul’s Church, Tower Hill, and on Sunday events will be centred around two churches, St Peter’s, Sowerby, in the morning and St Bartholomew’s, Ripponden, in the afternoon, which includes a village fete and at which the Rushbearing cart will finally arrive for the closing Songs of Praise service.


What’s on, and where, at Rushbearing

Saturday’s Rushbearing route begins at 10.15 am at St John’s Church, Warley, and make its way as follows (approximate arrival times):

11.20am, Warley Village; 12.15pm, Waiter’s Arms; 1.10pm, St Patrick’s Church; 2.10pm, Village Restaurant; 2.50pm, Narket Place/Christ Church; 3.30pm, St Paul’s Church; 4.05pm, The Hollins Mill; 4.50pm, The Hog’s Head; 5.35pm, The Moorings/Cobblestones.

On Sunday the Rushbearing route will begin at St Peter’s Church around 10am, and make its way as follows): 11.50am, St Peter’s Cricket Club; 12.50pm, The Rushcart Inn; 1.45pm, St Mary’s Church; 2.25pm, The Alma Inn; 3.10pm, Saw Hill; 3.40pm, Triangle Cricket Club and 5.25pm, St Bartholomew’s Church.

Specific festival events as follows:

Friday, September 1 - Sowerby Bridge: 8pm, pre-Rushbearing get-together at the Hogs Head Brewhouse, Stanley Street.

Saturday, September 2 - Warley: 10.15am to 11am, morris dancing and refreshments at St John’s Church; 10.50am to 11.50am, morris and longsword dancing at the Maypole Inn. Sowerby Bridge: 10am to 4pm, Charity and Craft Market at Wharf Street, including at 2pm Friendly Brass Band; 10am to 4.30pm, charity stall and refreshments at Christ Church; 1.30pm to 2pm, morris dancing at The Shepherd’s Rest, Bolton Brow; 2pm to 5.30pm, horticultural show at St Paul’s Church, Tower Hill; 2.15pm to 2.45pm, morris dancing at The Moorings, Canal Basin; 2.15pm to 2.45pm, morris dancing at Williams Bar, Wharf Street; 2.45pm to 3.15pm, morris dancing and mumming at Cobblestones Bar and Grill, Canal Basin; 7pm, West Yorkshire Police Band at The Hog’s Head, Stanley Street.

Sunday, September 3 - Sowerby: 10am to 12.30pm, refreshments at St Peter’s Church Hall; 10.30 to 11.15, Rushbearing service at St Peter’s Church; 12.15pm to 1.20pm, morris dancing at the Rushcart Inn. Cottonstones: 1.30pm to 2.50pm, The 400 Roses Belly Dancers, The Bradshaw Mummers and morris dancing at The Alma Inn. Triangle: 3pm, The Eclipse Jazz Band at Triangle Cricket Club. Ripponden: 2pm to 5pm, charity stalls and games at St Bartholomew’s Church; 4pm, The 400 Roses Belly Dancers and The Bradshaw Mummers at St Bartholomew’s Church; 5.30pm, Songs of Praise at St Bartholomew’s Church.