Tameside reporter and editor, Bob Alston, remembers ‘Whitsun’ as a lad in Ardwick, the new “Sunday best’ clothes and the parades.
Those of a certain age can vividly remember ‘Whitsun’ and the ‘Whit Walks’ in Greater Manchester and it is believed that this well-publicised tradition dates back to the early 1800s, with many photographic accounts of this much-loved social gathering being recorded for posterity.
Being brought up in Ardwick, Manchester ‘Whitsun’ was a part of my early childhood. Although my parents were not regular churchgoers they always made sure my brother, David, and I attended Sunday school each week at Wesley Hall, and I attended All Souls C of E School on Harding Street just off Every Street, Ancoats.
As a child, my most prominent memory of ‘Whitsun’ was finishing school for Easter with a service at All Souls Church, Every Street, and being taken to Manchester by my mum for new Easter clothes, and this meant extra spending money after visiting my aunties, uncles, and grandma. Proudly paraded in front of nearest and dearest resulted in being treated financially with what each could afford and in my case this usually meant anything from between 3d and a shilling.
Talking of parades, this time of year saw the streets of Greater Manchester being filled on Whit Friday with the traditional Whit Walks, where each local church and chapel would walk throughout their local area generally led by a band. In some areas, a number of local churches and chapels would group together for one big march.
Just imagine the sight, these were the working-class people of Greater Manchester from back-to-back terraced houses, referred to by some as ‘slums’, but it was home to us, and the Whit Walks was a day when everyone was treated equal both in a Christian and social sense – well, that is how I saw it at the age of eight anyway!
Take a look at this ‘Manchester Whit Walks 1940-1960’ video, it will bring back some memories I’m sure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFMdmiNYShc
If you have memories of Whit Walks or any other childhood memories that you’d like to share with our readers then please sent them to [email protected]