Astrid Hansen recalls one of the earliest modern Wilsden Galas, held in 1973.
A successful Children’s Carnival in 1970 encouraged members of the recently formed Wilsden Village Society to restart the old tradition of Wilsden Gala. After successful and popular events in 1971 and 1972, the gala committee had the idea of giving the 1973 gala the theme of Merrie England. The school field was laid out as a village green, with stalls arranged in streets such as Pudding Lane and The Shambles. Helpers were in appropriate costume, with a wide age range of serving wenches! Attractions with a period flavour included Morris dancers, a pieman selling his wares and, for the unruly, a ducking stool.
The Chair of Bingley Council, Mrs Emily Hall, entered thoroughly into the spirit of the event and made a splendid costume for herself. She also made a dress for the Gala Queen and period outfits for the two young attendants.
The school field on Tweedy Street was a perfect venue for the first few years, before temporary classrooms and later permanent extensions to the school reduced the available space.
The photo shows the “official” party, with the Gala Chair in suitable merrie peasant attire, and some of the fancy dress competitors. Two little boys show a macabre , though possibly accurate, notion of the less merrie aspects of the time.
After cancellations in 2011 and 2013, the future of Wilsden Gala looked uncertain. However, a new committee has now taken over the event, which will be held on Sunday 20th July 2014. The theme will be the letter W, and we hope to see lots of inspired fancy dress on the day!