Maypole returns to Doncaster town after 50 years

It was a tradition for generations in a Doncaster village - and this week it returns after a 50 year absence.

Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 11:00 am
Pictured with the new Maypole l-r Angie Clegg, Harvey Arms Events Manager, Bridget Clark, funding organiser, Patricia Schofield, Chairman of Joint Playing Field committee, Roy Hattersley, Treasurer of JPF, Richard Johnson, JPF Secretary and Shirley Hattersley, supporter. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Mayploe MC 1

Up until the 1960s, youngsters in the Finningley used to dance round the maypole at the rectory gardens in the village each year to celebrate May Day.

The tradition died out after the school moved its site - but next week it is set to start again.

A Maypole has been bought to set up in the village after a speedy public campaign and will be used for the first time on Monday - May Day

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The village is not believed to have had such an event since the 60s.

Up until that time, pupils from the village school used to take part in an annual maypole dance.

But the after school building was changed to become the village hall, and the school moved to a new site, the tradition was lost

What happened to its old Maypole is not known, but residents believe it may have either rotted or been lost.

Now, after three months fund raising, the residents have got together to buy a new one.

The move comes after a chance remark on a village nostalgia website by former village post mistress Bridget Clark, after one resident put a picture of a maypole on it.

The resident's mum was on it dancing round the pole on the old snap.

Bridget, aged 69, who remembered how the village children used to dance around the maypole in the past said it would be wonderful to have a maypole again.

She said: "About 80 people were saying the same thing, and we said we'd get something organised. We said we should have a community maypole and let the children have the memories we've had.

"So we raised the money. I said if even a third of the households in the village put £1 into a container in the Post Office on Station Road we'd raise the money - so that's what we did.

"It was like a plastic tub. People put all sorts of coins in there and we raised about £470 from January to March this year.

"I contacted the chap who supplies maypoles for the big villages, and he went to a steel firm who makes them, and they've made a metal pole with a crown on the top and wrought iron bottom. We waited for it to be made and it was delivered three weeks ago.

"It's fantastic that its up and running again. I never thought something would come from a chance remark, but it there was such gusto about the fundraising.

"It's a lovely old tradition that's been brought back into the village.

The Scott Stevenson School of Dance provided children from the village to dance round it this week

Bridget has been in contact with Christine Grace, who runs the dance school, and also with bosses at the Harvey Arms pub on Old Bawtry Road, who provided the venue and put on food and drink.

Around 20 youngsters took part.

Finningley Parish Council also put in a donation to help fund the pole.

Bridget added: "The first memory I had was I always had a new white dress and white socks and sandals, and we all dressed the same. The boys had grey shorts and white shirts. We rehearsed at school and went to the rectory lawn for the display. The whole village used to turn out to watch.

"It must be 50 years since we last had a maypole dance in Finningley and Blaxton.

"It's a real trip back down memory lane, I hope when I'm dead and gone there will still be a maypole and the children will still be able have that memory."