Having taken part in many parades and processions, particularly during my years playing with the West Yorkshire Police Band, I can say looking at this parade marching and playing up Wakefield Road out of Bailiff Bridge would be hard going particular for us tuba players.
This parade dates back to May 1957, looking through the front ranks I can recognise two people who were both well known, who I am sure older readers will still remember. Third from the front on the left hand side column is Edgar Clay, who worked at Brookes’ stone company for many years and his last job was Chief Security Officer at Firth’s Carpets.
Marching two behind Edgar is Gilbert Wakefield who lived at Hipperholme and for many years ran a small van hire/removal business. I am sure many readers will be able to identify the man in the black uniform and police type cap. It is Jim Hickman who conducted Brighouse and Rastrick Band in the 50s and on this parade although out of sight was leading parade.
The parade is the Mayor’s Sunday and was on its way to St Matthew’s Church where the Vicar Rev. Frank White who was also the Mayor’s Chaplain was waiting for them. The church was decked out with a floral sight to behold, having been visited by a team from the Borough Council’s Parks Department.
The parade assembled in Victoria Road with contingents representing the local police, Fire Service, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, British Legion, the Smith Homes, council officials, magistrates and many other civic dignitaries from other local authorities, all dressed out in their red finery.
Why does a Mayor wear a red coat? A little research would suggest the red coat was so people could see the mayor was coming to carry out one of his civic duties that of collecting tax money. The coat was fitted with very deep pockets this was to avoid the money being stolen by pick-pockets.
The St John’s Ambulance Band was half way down the parade column to ensure those people towards the back end of the parade could hear a band and hopefully keep in step.
After the church service the parade reassembled and marched down to Stoney Lane where they were all picked up by waiting buses and taken to Waterloo Road. The second part of the parade then commenced, marching down into the town centre culminating in Thornton Square and bringing a close to one of the town’s major annual events.