The Sun always shinned on Whit Sunday

Spring bank holiday is still known by many people today as Whitsuntide.Since the early 1970s Whit and Spring bank holiday have been separate events – though sometimes taking place on the same weekend.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 12:59 pm

This year Whit Sunday – or Pentecost – took place last weekend with Spring bank holiday this coming Monday.

As a child I really loved Whitsuntide. I was never religiously inclined, but you didn’t have to be to enjoy this spectacle.

I suspect, as a Sheffield event it was second only to our Lord Mayor’s parade in terms of turn out – it was a huge event.

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Susan Tomlinson with Evelyn and Sharron Thomas singing hymns in Meersbrook Park at Whitsuntide 1970

I vaguely remember receiving some clothes, and I also seem to remember myself, brothers and sisters being given new socks.

I attended my local Boys’ Brigade at Petre Street Methodist Chapel in the mid 1970s, which was at the junction of Sutherland Road and Petre Street, Ellesmere.

The Boys’ Brigade and members of the congregation would assemble behind the Brigade band.

Proudly holding their banners high, we were formed up and ready, we then were brought to attention. Then off we’d march full of excitement and pride. I wonder what happened to all those beautiful banners.

Members of the Girls' Brigade at the Meersbrook Park Whit Sing in 1972

The bugles and drums would be playing loudly and proudly – tunes I can no longer remember.

We would march from the church up Sutherland Road joining Ellesmere Road, along Osgathorpe Road, where at the end of which we’d join Barnsley Road turning right towards Fir Vale, then onward to Firth Park.

All along the way people would line the streets clapping and cheering. There were lots of smiles, it was very emotive and people really enjoyed it.

Cars and traffic didn’t seem to be around, or perturbed by this event in the 1970s, possibly finding alternative routes.

As we approached Firth Park more and more bands and congregations were joining the parade, with all the bands playing different tunes it got louder and louder as they got closer to the park.

Building up into a cacophony of sound, which never offended the ear, it just increased the excitement and pride we felt to be a part of it.

I have heard of many being brought to tears, or the raising of the hairs on the back of their necks by the enormity of the occasion.

We converged on Firth Park from all directions, marching past hundreds who were already waiting for the events to begin.

The main year I was involved was 1975 just before we left our home on Petre Street for the Norwood area of town.

I was part of the band playing the snare drum, a real treat. This was a very prestigious role, a role I don’t think I would have been given under normal circumstances.

Ellesmere, along with many other parts of Sheffield, was going through a massive upheaval, due to mast demolition, or slum clearance as it was commonly known.

This parade was my first and the last. By then there were more empty houses than occupants in the area.

Church congregations were shrinking due to the mass movement of residents and with no local population there could soon be no more parades.