When: 6th & 7th September 2014
Where: Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire
What is it?
The annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing first took place in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. This year’s rushbearing event takes place on 6th and 7th September 2014.
Rushbearing ceremonies were common in times before churches had proper seating for its parishioners. The floors of churches were covered with rushes in order to make them more comfortable. Once a year the worn out rushes would be replaced with new ones and this annual chore was turned into a celebratory event.
These days there are only a handful of rushbearing ceremonies that still take place. The Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing is possibly the only one to take place in Yorkshire. The event takes place over several days every September and the focal point is a sixteen foot high, two-wheeled, decorated and thatched rushcart. The cart is pulled by sixty local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs, accompanied by musicians, mummers and folk dancers through the streets of Sowerby Bridge and Ripponden.
Each year a team of around 15 people create a new rushcart for the festival, which takes about a week and a half to construct.
On the Friday night there is a traditional pre-rushbearing get-together at The Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge, with live music and ale. On Saturday there is entertainment around Sowerby Bridge Market, with the popular rushbearing charity and crafts market and performances by the Friendly Brass Band. Then, on the Sunday afternoon in Ripponden, there is a village fete. The rushbearing procession arrives in the village during the afternoon with the presentation of rushes, morris dancing and a service in the church.
The colourful rushcart procession is a unique spectacle as it takes the nine-mile route through local villages over the course of the weekend. The procession sees a team of young ladies taking turns to ride on top of the cart and stops are made at the churches along the way to hand over the rushes and there are dance performances at the local public houses.
More info: www.rushbearing.com