Whit Friday has been an important day in Saddleworth for a long time. Churches celebrate with processions of various kinds, a tradition which continues to this day. The brass band contests grew out of a bit of friendly competition between bandsmen after the formal part of the day was over.
Even though by current standards the contest were small affairs at the beginning of the twentieth century, with maybe a dozen bands, they still travelled from far afield - often from the Yorkshire Coalfield and I presume by train.
The contests have since grown both in number and size. In the 'seventies Greenfield would see over thirty but now its about sixty. Delph is clocking up an amazing total of over eighty!
Nowadays these bands use coaches to travel to Saddleworth and between contests, resulting in a great variety of coaches in the area, as when the Tameside and other Oldham contests are taken into account there are about 150 bands doing the rounds, with a similar number of coaches.
This gallery is but a snapshot of the Whit Friday scene. Most of my own photographs are taken at the Greenfield contest as that is the one I have regularly visited, but some of the other contests are represented. At Greenfield it can be seen how traffic arrangements have had to evolve to cope with the increasing numbers of bands and spectators.
© David Beilby