A heave-ho and they were off...a sunlit Saturday morning saw rushbearers take the first steps on two days of fun marking 40 years since the revival of an historical tradition.
Events were held in Sowerby Bridge, Sowerby, Warley and Ripponden as part of the 2017 Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival on September 2 and 3, highlighted by the procession whereby rushmaidens atop a decorated and thatched rushcart are pulled along the route by 60 local men in their Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs.
Thousands were entertained at a host of venues throughout the area, with music, food stalls, some drink, naturally, as hostelries along the way were visited and acted as staging points, 15 dance and morris troupes, a horticultural show, a village fete and a closing songs-of-praise service at St Bartholomew’s Church, Ripponden..
Historically, Rushbearing 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, with harvest, hopefully, safely gathered in.
Enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, here’s hoping the festivities are set for their next 40 years.