Whitworth Town Council

Whitworth Rushcart Dancers Gear Up For Annual Procession

Published on 8th August 2019

The procession will leave from Whitworth Museum, North Street, Whitworth at 1.00pm.  Featuring numerous traditional morris dance troupes (including the famous Britannia Coconutters and the Whitworth Morris Men) and will travel up the main road, led by the Rushcart itself, arriving at the Riverside at approximately 1.20pm.

From 1.15pm until 4.30pm, the car park of The Riverside 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 real ale named ‘Grogan’s Delight’ in memory of the late Jimmy Grogan, Honorary Townsman of Whitworth.  There will also be an Arts and Craft Fair, featuring a variety of artisan stalls in the Riverside main hall.  There will also be rides, facepainting and other entertainments.

The Tourism and Leisure Committee of Whitworth Town Council has been working alongside the multi-agency Events Safety Group on this year’s festivities.  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 the Town Clerk .  Thank-you to Mr Mike Burgess for allowing to use his photos from the 2018 event.



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