Sunday, 2 September 2018

2018 Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing

The annual Rushbearing festival takes place in Sowerby Bridge and surrounding areas on the first full weekend in September.  Replicating a tradition stretching back over a thousand years, the festival takes the form of a rush-cart, pulled by teams of local men, carrying a young woman atop the cart, which was originally filled with rushes to be taken to local churches, in the days when most church floors were covered in rushes.  The worn and rotten rushes would be replaced by those conveyed by cart.  Today, rushbearing still takes place in many parts of Britain, and here in Sowerby Bridge rushes are still ceremoniously handed over in church, forming the centrepiece of a Rushbearing Service.

This year I only had time to attend part of the festivities on Saturday, mainly at St Patrick's Church, Sowerby Bridge, but I have shared below some snapshots of the day.  Videos of some of the performance, including Morris dancing and brassband, can be found at 

The Friendly Brass Band kicked off proceedings at St Patrick's Church, Bolton Brow:

Arrival of the Rushcart:

Taking a breather:

Presenting the Rushes:

Banner in church during presentation:

There were performances by Sowerby Bridge Morris Dancers:


SB Morris Squire Amy-Rose Atkinson, below centre (who provides vocals for a song in my film about Branwell Bronte):

Ryburn Longsword, a local folk collective:



Rampant Roosters, who traveled up from the Cotswolds to perform:

A Mumming play was enacted:

A rather dashing Napoleon:

Wellington weighs things up:

The cart departed in mid-afternoon for the next of its travels:

The procession heads down Wharf Street, into Sowerby Bridge centre and beyond: