Whitworth Rushcart procession and celebrations
24th July 2013
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The Tourism and Leisure Committee of Whitworth Town Council has been working closely with the Police and with the multi-agency Events Safety Group on this year’s  Whitworth Rushcart festivities.

The procession will leave from North Street car park, off Market Street, Whitworth, at 1.00pm.  Featuring numerous traditional morris dance troupes (including the famous Britannia Coconutters and the Whitworth Morris Men), the Rushcart procession will travel north up the main road (Market Street), arriving at Whitworth Civic Hall (also known as The Riverside) at approximately 1.20pm.  The procession will be lead by the Rushcart itself and this year features a special appearance from the Thwaites Brewery Shire Horses.

From 1.15pm until 4.30pm, the car park of the Civic Hall will be cordoned off for stalls, entertainments, and performances from the various morris dancing troupes including the Whitworth Rushcart Men and the Britannia Coconutters, plus the Whitworth Vale and Healey Youth Band.  St Bartholomew’s Church will be providing traditional hot food, and the Riverside bar will be open for liquid refreshments, including a real ale named ‘Grogan’s Delight’ in memory of the late Jimmy Grogan, Honorary Townsman of Whitworth.  This year’s event is also being expanded to include a Craft Fair, which will see arts and crafts stalls in the Riverside main hall.  There will also be rides, paintball, water inflatables, Paint A Pot and facepainting.

The organisers are grateful for financial support from Whitworth Town Council and the receipt of a Neighbourhood Forum events grant from Rossendale Borough Council.

Additionally, a number of other events will be taking place on or around the Rushcart weekend:

  • St Bartholomew’s Church on Whitworth Rake will host a Rushcart Evening Service on Sunday 8 September at 6.30pm.  All are welcome.  For more information, please contact Rev Lyn Woodall on 01706 853931.
  • Whitworth Band Club at 498 Market Street will holding a mini-beer Festival from Friday 6 – Sunday 8 September, featuring 6 real ales.  For more information, contact the Band Club on 01706 852484.
  • Whitworth Museum on North Street will be open from 10am on the Sunday for teas and coffees as the finishing touches made to the Rushcart.  For more information contact Mr Schofield on 01706 343370.

The Whitworth Rushcart is one of only four such celebrations which still take place in the UK, the others being in Sowerby Bridge, Littleborough and Saddleworth.  Whitworth’s cart is unique in that it is the only one in the UK to be covered in beautiful local heather that is in bloom at this time of year, collected by the Whitworth Rushcart Men from the moors above Darwen before the event; Rushcarts in the other areas are covered with rushes or tatters of cloth.

Whitworth’s Rushcart history goes back hundreds of years; initially the celebration was linked into the cutting and collection of rushes to be strewn on the bare earth or stone flagged floor of the church as a form of insulation for the winter to come, taken to the church on the cart.  Out of this grew a celebration which was enjoyed by the whole community.  In the 1970s and 1980s the Rushcart was the highlight of the Whitworth Fair week; in recent times the week-long festivities have passed into history however the popularity of the Rushcart itself in Whitworth is strong.  The Rushcart now takes place on a Sunday afternoon each September rather than its traditional Friday night slot, and has become more family-focused, attracting 1,500 visitors annually.

For further information, please contact Karen Douglas, Whitworth Town Clerk on 01706 852018 / email: info@whitworth.gov.uk (Monday to Friday, 9am – 2.30pm).

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Kathryn B

Member since: 10th July 2012

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