Wallasey Village

Written by Jean McGhee in 1991

This Summer-time event was held in the early years of last century in a field in Rolleston Drive, later transferring to Belvidere Road next to Dunn's Field, bordering on to Claremount Road. I believe it was sponsored by a Mr. Shear who was a newsagent in the village.

The people taking part was supposed to live in Wallasey Village, or at least have a business there. In the case if children they attended school in that area, and most were pupils at St. George's Road Council School. These children ran the finals of their races and other events during the day of the Festival, having run the heats during term-time. I particularly remember the egg-and-spoon, sack races, and also the three-legged races,

There was also a maypole, and hours were spent rehearsing for this, with a practice maypole put up in the school hall. One mistake, and the whole lot had to be undone, with the errant culprit feeling very upset indeed, although I do not recall anyone being told off - watching the tangled ribbons being carefully and laboriously undone was punishment enough!

The Rose Queen was the star of the day. She was a child of the village and would be eleven years old or under. She rode in a waggon with the mayor or mayoress, who presented her with a gold watch during the course of the Festival.

We children had to be at school early on the great day, in our best outfits. We formed into a column in the playground, about six deep, and marched up the hill to St. Hilary's church, not far away. Here a service was held, with a few short prayers and a couple of well-known hymns. The church was always full, presumably with local dignitaries. After the service we formed into a proper procession. led by the Rose Queen in her beautifully-decorated waggon - horse-drawn, of course - accompanied by the mayor and mayoress and, of course, the Silver Band.

Wallasey Village Festival 1910We processed down the hill into the village, along to Grove Road, up the hill again, turning left at Rolleston Drive to the Festival again - a long way for little legs! The Rose Queen always played her part very well, bowing and waving to the crowds, and people turned out to line the streets and cheer us on.

On arrival at the ground we ran our races and dances around the maypole (with fingers crossed, hoping all would go well, as this was the big day!). At some time, tea was provided for us from a tent, with lemonade, jellies, cakes - all tasting so much better-out-of doors! The smell of the grass, well-trodden by this time, the music from the band and the hurdy-gurdies further away down the field, the food and drinks, the hot weather (for it always seemed that way!) - something to remember for ever.

Then, of course, there was the fair, and when we had done our bit, we were allowed to go and wander around the fairyland of merry-go-rounds, booths, and all the daylights of the fairground. My sister and I were usually given half a crown each, all in pennies, by our kind and thoughtful aunties, and we always thought carefully about how we would spend it.

The fair went on very late into the evening, or so it seemed to us, as we could hear the music long after we were tucked in bed, very, very tired!

Maybe there are errors in the account - it is a long time ago now (I started school at St. George's about 1922). Miss Lovell was the Headmistress, the only other teachers I recall being Miss Gleave, tall and thin, who lived in Prospect Vale; and Miss O'Loughlin, who lived near the church.

In those days, pleasures were simple, and this annual summer Festival gave so much pleasure to so many people, especially to us children.