Tw st

Walk this way

Enjoying their Whit Monday

adventure are worshippers

from the former Brampton

Congregational Church

Bernard Jones tells of Chesterfield’s long

and proud tradition of Whit Walks... and says

how you can become involved this year

Walking into the town centre


EXT year - 2020 - the Chesterfield Procession of Witness

celebrates its 170th anniversary.

The annual Whit Walks, as they were then known, started in the

north-west and one of the largest was in Manchester; the earliest

recorded walk, according to the ‘Manchester Evening News’, being

in 1801.

Originally they took place on White Friday, the first Friday after

the feast of Pentecost. White Friday was eventually

shortened to Whit Friday and eventually gave way to Whit Monday

with the formation of the Whitsuntide Bank Holiday.

The Chesterfield Whit Walk first took place in 1850 when only

four sunday schools took part in the original procession but it was

the foundation for something much bigger as you can see from

these photographs.

Up until 1971 (following a trial period from 1965 when the

government standardised the Spring Bank Holiday to the last

Monday in May), Whitsuntide was a moveable feast, meaning the

procession could take place anytime from mid-May until mid-June.

The walk was a great excuse for a family outing. Children wore

their new summer clothes bought especially for the occasion.

Large crowds gathered to take part or watch from the crowded


My personal memories date back to the mid 1950s; as a child I

could not believe the size of the crowds! My mother, who passed

away last year aged 95, was reminiscing of how as a six-year-old in

the 1930 walk, she was separated from her parents in the large

crowds whilst trying to buy an ice cream and ended up in the police

van for lost children!

Many people who have grown up in Chesterfield have fond

memories of the walk as a major occasion in the town's calendar.

The impressive and imaginative tableaux on the back of large

lorries were very competitive as there was a trophy to be won; it

was an achievement if your church took home the trophy for that


Memories of tableaux that stick in my mind are the Space Shuttle

being towed down Chatsworth Road from the then


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