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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Wakes Week

Whit Monday was the great working class holiday during the nineteenth century. Later it became the tradition for cotton mills to close down during the last week in May (Whit or Wakes Week.) Workers enjoyed a day out at the fair, or perhaps travelled by rail to the seaside. In general, workers were not necessarily all on holiday at the same time. Some millowners gave their workforce a week’s holiday each year, but others only had one or two days’ annual holiday. The workers had to scrimp and save up all year for their holidays, though – if they didn’t work, they didn’t get paid.

When I was a little girl, we would parade around the streets of Salford wearing our best clothes or dressed up in Brownie uniform for the annual Whit Walk. I carried the wooden Brown Owl once – it seemed very heavy after I’d been carrying it for a little while.

Image: Off to th’fair. Poems and Songs, (Edwin Waugh, 1889.) Author’s collection.

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