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They Stole Our Maypole!!

From the Barwicker No.90
June 2008



Sometime during the evening of Friday 27th or the morning of Saturday 28th May 1966 the top half of maypole disappeared from Hall Tower Field. The pole had been taken down at Easter and was all ready to be raised just four days later on Whit Tuesday the 31st May. The thieves had carefully unbolted the top section and crept quickly and quietly away under the noses of the Barwick residents. Mr. Peter Walker who lived next door to where the pole lay said he never heard a thing.

During the Saturday, news of the theft spread like wild fire around the village and hoards of villagers came to view the scene of the crime and put the remaining 44ft or so of the once 86ft 6in pole. There were comments like "There's nowt funny abaht it", "They've known t' job", "What are things coming to?" and "just hopeless".

Mr Edward Horner of Potterton Hall offered a reward of 5 to anyone giving information leading to the recovery of the pole by noon on the Sunday. Crowds of people spread out from Barwick over the countryside looking for the pole. Mr Donald Pullen of Potterton Lane even took his light aircraft up from Sherburn-in-Elmet airfield to scour the area from the air.

With time running out members of the Maypole Committee went to a timber yard at Straddlethorpe between Howden and Brough to buy a replacement pole and worked through the Saturday night to shape and paint this.

A telephone call was received by Mr Bill Kirk of Potterton Lane, demanding a 20 ransom for the return of the pole, the proceeds of which were to go to the Aberford village hall fund. Mr J. Robshaw, chairman of the maypole committee said "It may have been a joke at first but it is no longer amusing. The ones who will suffer are the old people and children. The money raised on the day goes to buy food parcels at Christmas for the elderly and provides a summer treat for the children"

Mr Gerald Hartley, a past treasurer of the maypole committee, of Leeds Road, Barwick, received a tip off on Sunday morning that the pole was in Aberford and details of the general area. He set off in search of it with P.C. John Bateman.

After about an hour Mr. Hartley found the pole hidden in the long grass in a field near to Gypsy Quarry on the Aberford Road. It was carried through the field and loaded onto the 15cwt van. Then it was escorted back to Barwick by a police motorcycle and car with headlights blazing. About 20 other cars followed all sounding their horns.

It was quite an emotional scene when the pole arrived back in Barwick, flags were flying from windows and many inhabitants came out to welcome it back. The pubs emptied as crowds started to fill the street. Dogs barked, young boys ran about waving their arms and a little, old lady cried. The pole was well guarded for the remaining two days and raised in a very successful ceremony on Whit Tuesday as planned, (described fully in The Barwicker No. 81)



DAVID TEAL


Sources:
The Skyrack Courier editions of 7th April 1966, 15th April 1966, 27th May 1966 & 3rd June 1966
The Yorkshire Evening Post editions of 28th May 1966, 30th May 1966 & 31st May 1966 Back to the top
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