Ossett Pictures - Erecting Gawthorpe Maypole 1953

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Gawthorpe Maypole 1953

The picture shows Gawthorpe Maypole being erected by the "Armstrong" method in 1953. This particular Maypole lasted until 1986 when it was found to be rotten and unsafe. It was replaced with the present Maypole with help from a crane.

Maypole dancing itself dates back as far as Richard II in England, and during the reign of Henry VIII reached most of the rural villages including Gawthorpe. Mayday itself became a public holiday until Oliver Cromwell (1649 – 1660) banned May merrymaking and all such festivities. These were subsequently re-established by Charles II after the restoration.

In 1850, a Gawthorpe resident by the name of Mr. A. Pollard suggested and bought the first recorded permanent Maypole for the village. Previously, each year, a birch tree from local woods had been cut down and used as a Maypole. The new Maypole, complete with weathercock on top was duly erected.

In April 1875 a suitable new fir tree over 70 feet. in height was purchased and brought over to Ossett from Hull. This was bought through public donations and subscriptions to be erected in time for the Mayday celebrations. That same May, Lady Cardigan owner of extensive lands within the area, built a school on what is now the site of the present Junior & Infants School, which stands almost at the entrance to the village.