Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Continuing Roger Chadwicks fabulous Memories of Hyde....

My church bore the grandiose title of “the parish of St John the Baptist, Godley cum Newton Green”!   I never found out where Newton Green was but assumed it was somewhere around Newton Station.  Certainly Godley was a huge geographical parish and then included Hattersley and parts of Hoviley.  The great excitement of the year was 0900 hrs at the Sheffield Road (Church) School on a Whit Friday.  Huge banners, pretty little girls, a be-decked bible, Mothers Union members in blue veils, everyone in new Whit Walk clothes and the Church Lads Brigade resplendent in their smart uniforms and highly polished bugles.  A procession of up to 100 people would set off led, by custom, every year, by The Dove Holes Prize Band.  Choirboys were somewhere in the middle behind the Church Banner, the Churchwardens proudly bearing their staffs of office and the cheery rubicund Vicar, resplendent in choir robes, hood and mortar board or Canterbury Cap.  His eyes were usually fixed on us because we were troublesome and he was always ready to pounce! 

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St John the Baptist, Godley

Our parish Walk was something of a marathon!  We would pass through High Street and Fountain Street, down “Sammy Spit” and up Commercial Brow, back down towards Hyde and through Hoviley and into Clarendon Place.  For some reason we never went into the market area with all the other processions.  Then the fun would begin!   Our route thence took us straight up the A57 (Mottram Rd), through Godley Arches and up Godley Hill Road to the War Memorial.  Apparently, the police didn’t like this tradition because we caused massive hold ups of local and commercial long distance traffic.  But process we did and the choir lads, by adroit timing of the walk and surreptitious hand signals, could welcome angry motorists and sometimes an SHMD Decker into the procession!  One brave lad decided to mount the rear platform of the bus on one such Walk and was hastily pushed off by the guard!  All this caused mayhem and infuriated the Vicar but we loved it.  All the way round, crowds would line the pavements of the parish and there was much banter and raillery on all sides. Our Godley Whit Walk took three hours to complete with numerous stops for “Deep Harmony”,” Lloyd”, “The Old Hundredth” (Hymn Tunes), prayers and readings.  On Whit Friday afternoon, everyone, including the Bands, repaired to Farmer Osborne’s field beside The Barmhouses for the Sports.  (The usual Olympic style fare of sack/egg and spoon races and much else). By 1700 hrs we were home, worn out but happy!

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Clarendon Place

The Church had a striking tower with a good peal of “bells”….   These wonderful “bells” consisted of a heavy 78rpm wax record in a gramophone in the Choir Vestry and it was the task of choir boys to reset the record every three minutes.  This process usually lasted for a full fifteen minutes but we made sure that, if possible, the needle could be left playing at the centre of the disc.  A hideous sound of magnified hissing and scratching would then fill the air of the parish until an irate Churchwarden or Sidesman would come in and ask “what the hell’s goin’ on?”  I seem to remember that this record was called “Grand Sire Garters” from Westminster Abbey”.  It was a dreadful noise but caused us unforgettable merriment.

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Sermons were quite long and the mosaic of the floor around the choir stalls was a good surface for “glass alleys” (marbles) which we could flirt across to lads on the other side.  Wax sweet papers made good darts and we carved our names in the choir stalls.  Once we were sent out for really bad behaviour but once chastised, it was soon forgotten.  We sang two services on a Sunday, “murdered” anthems and sang Oratorios on Good Friday, even Stainer’s ‘Crucifixion’ and Maunder’s  ‘Olivet to Calvary’.   The choir was raucous but enthusiastic.  I enjoyed every minute of it.

Canon May guided several lads towards Ordination and I was one of them.    In 1962 I wore the clerical collar for the first time and I can honestly say that over 37 years in the work I have always encouraged and joined in mischief and high spirits.   It’s all part of being a boy(and a man!) and in these days of political correctness it is something that they are missing.   Some years ago I was at Evensong in York Minster and the choir lads were misbehaving terribly.   In high spirits there was just no dealing with them.  

Bad with silent laughter I thought to myself – “Oh aye! Been there! Done that !

Many Thanks again, Roger ! :)
Also, thanks to Carl Rogerson for use of the photo of St Johns.



ceecee said...

Thanks for sharing your memories with us I really enjoy reading them and look forward to the next chapter.They help me remember my childhood spent a lot of the time in Bears wood and at Zion Chapel.

B Williams said...

Fantastic memories. I really loved this piece.

Anonymous said...

I remember Canon May was referred to as "pecky May" does anyone know why?
Dave Davies