SLIDESHOW: Rushbearing Festival is one of a kind

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival. 400 Roses dance at St Patrick's Sacred Heart, Bolton Brow.
Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival. 400 Roses dance at St Patrick's Sacred Heart, Bolton Brow.

Community spirit shone through to make this year’s Rushbearing Festival another one to remember.

The festival is the only one of its kind in the country and dates back to the 17th century when villages would gather new rushes for the church floors each year.

It was reinstated in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee and is now one of the biggest events in Sowerby Bridge’s calendar.

Morris dancers from across the country descended on the town to take part and crowds enjoyed lively performances from 400 Roses, Sheffield City Giants, Wrigley Head Morris Men, Silkstone Greens, Thieving Magpie and more across the weekend.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Lisa Lambert, also joined crowds over the weekend.

Lisa Baigent, one of the festival organisers, said: “It was a great day and it went really well. The weather was brilliant and there was a lot of people about, it was really busy.

“Sheffield City Giants were fabulous, all the kids were in awe of them. It was really great to see all the community together and everybody enjoyed themselves, there was a brilliant atmosphere.

“Thank you to everyone who turned out and supported us, without them there would be no point in us doing it.”

The weekend’s celebrations kicked off at the Puzzle Hall Inn, Hollins Mill Lane, Sowerby Bridge, with live music and traditional ales.

The focal point of the event centred on Saturday’s procession, which began at St John’s Church, Warley, and stopped at several pubs and churches on its route.

At the heart of the procession was a 16-foot rushcart which wound its way though the streets, pulled by 60 local men dressed in panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs.

A team of young ladies took turns to ride on top of the cart as the colourful procession made its way through the town, accompanied by musicians, mummers and folk dancers.

The weekend drew to a close as the procession arrived in Ripponden, where the traditional Songs of Praise service was held at St Bartholomew’s Church.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the revived celebration and organisers say they hope the event will be even bigger and better to mark the milestone date.