Honley Feast (1870)

The 1870 Honley Feast took place between Sunday 25 September and Wednesday 28 September.

The Chronicle reported that the "signs of Honley feast are not so favourable this year as has been the case in years gone by" due to the fact that many local families were struggling to find work. The price of beef was "a penny a pound higher than usual" and the newspaper encouraged those planning to visit the feast to "spare the beef."[1]

On the first day of the feast, two evangelists from Halifax — Thomas Rawlinson (author of Halifax Tracts) and William Oliver Walls — gave open-air addresses in Dam Field, Honley, and attracted a large crowd. Party way through, a wall that a number of people were sat on, collapsed but no-one was hurt and a swing-boat proprietor offered to pay the cost of repairs.[2]

As in previous years, a cheap rail trip had been organised for the Monday of the feast to Hull via Goole, with the final portion of the journey being on packet steamer. The Berry Brow and Armitage Bridge Brass Band had been booked to play on the train.[3]

The Chronicle took delight in reporting that a young man had set off walking from Huddersfield on late Monday afternoon to meet friends at Honley, including a "young lady in whom he was particularly interested". Reaching Lockwood Bar, he somehow managed to turn right up Swan Lane, rather than going left across the bridge, and carried on walking briskly into the dusk. After a good hour, he finally discovered he was actually heading towards Manchester. Rather than retrace his steps, he instead set off across the fields in the direction he thought Honley should be. The "ardent lover" was soon "tipping fences, getting knee deep in cart ruts, and stumbling over many other difficulties" in the dark before he eventually arrived back at Lockwood, some 4 hours later. The newspaper noted sagely that "the course of true love never did run smooth."[4]

In their summary of the feast, the Chronicle reported that the road though Lockwood to Honley had been "crowded with persons who were wending their way to the feast." In Honley, velocipedes proved "most attractive" and were more popular than the other amusements on offer. The weather had been sunny, which unfortunately resulted in swarms of midges.

As sometimes happened, the travelling theatre who performed at the feast would stay on and Rowland's National Theatre remained in Honley until late October, as they were able to attract large numbers of young people.[5]

Notes and References

  1. "Honley: Signs of the Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (17/Sep/1870).
  2. Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Oct/1870).
  3. "Trip on Honley Feast Monday" in Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Sep/1870).
  4. "Honley: Missing His Way" in Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Oct/1870).
  5. "Honley: Departure of the Last Relic of the Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (29/Oct/1870).