Manchester and Salford Whit Walks: A really potted history

Whilst this is by no means a comprehensive history of the Whit Walks, I thought I best provide a bit more context for the posts in this blog. There are a few more comprehensive overviews out there I would recommend Canon Jim Burns’ book if you can get hold of a copy as the most interesting overview complete with personal reflections from people who have walked over the years (available in Manchester Central Library). I do intend to try and develop a fuller explanation – we have gathered over 200 years of news archives related to the Whit Walks in Manchester which we are in the process of making sense of. Below is work that is pretty much pasted from a conference paper I delivered so is a really condensed explanation! Here is a picture of my Grandma doing the Whit Walks in Denton (South-East-ish of Manchester)….

Alice Platt (my grandma) taking part in Denton’s Whit Walks

During the beginnings of industrialisation in Lancashire, the Whitsun holiday was seen as one of the most important times of the working classes calendar (Fielding, 1989). The Walks were traditionally undertaken on Whit Friday for the Catholic churches and Whit Monday for the Anglican churches during the religious festival of Pentecost. Pentecost celebrates the decent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles as described in The Act of the Apostles in the New Testament. Fielding states that the first Anglican walk took place in Manchester in 1801 with the Catholics following the tradition by 1844 (Fielding, 1989).

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St George’s Day Parade, Manchester 2017

Today was St George’s Day parade in the city centre of Manchester. The parade begins in the North of the city centre, works it way through the Northern Quarter across Piccadilly and back round. I need to do a little bit more research into this parade in terms of how it is developed and who is involved but it had a strong North Manchester vibe in the sense that there was a celebration of 10 years of Miles Platting heading the parade. The parade is also raising money for the Ancoats Dispensary Trust  so there is a link geographically to where the parade begins. I have wanted to look at the parades from this area for a while as the Manchester Italian Catholic Association walks come through this area as well. This area of the city is under redevelopment and there has been criticism that the gentrification is alienating the older communities. Ancoats tops the so-called ‘hippest hangout’ index. 


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The story of a street


When I started working at Manchester Met I met up with some friends of mine who are theatre makers. We had a great conversation about our shared interests in communities and how people use spaces. We all got busy and whilst the ideas were still bubbling under, we never took anything forward. Fast forward to December 2016…we decided to play with some of those ideas further.

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