Penistone Feast

The Penistone Feast was traditionally held on the weekend following 24 June — being the Nativity Day of St. John the Baptist — and often included an athletics day and a day of musical events.

A local custom was that farmers would begin their haymaking on the first day of the Feast before attending in the evening.[1]

Known Dates

A selection of known dates of the Feast along with notes from newspaper articles. The celebrations would often continue into the following week.

  • 1850Sunday 30 June
    • A heavily loaded train from Holmfirth to Penistone ground to a halt in Stockmoor tunnel and the carriages had to be split into two sections, leaving the rear section stranded for a while in the tunnel until the engine returned to retrieve them.
  • 1856Sunday 29 June
    • On the Sunday, overcrowding in the booking hall at Penistone Station due to the Feast led to a Henry Mattrick of Hatfield assaulting Mr. Routh, the station master. Mattrick was fined £1 17s.
  • 1857Sunday 28 June
    • The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company laid on special cheap excursion trains from Huddersfield. They proved so popular that the first two trains had no room for any more passengers by the time they reached Stocksmoor. The Chronicle reported that around 20 young men managed to climb onto the roofs of the full carriages, "preferring to risk their lives in the tunnels, rather than be disappointed of visiting the feast." After some passengers had been waiting over four hours for a train, "a general mutiny ensued" with everyone demanding refunds on their tickets.
    • Thomas Turner of Honley was returning from the Feast by train when he fell asleep in the carriage. John Watson of Moldgreen took the opportunity to relieve Turner of his pocket watch. A witness has seen the theft and Police Sergeant Sedgwick arrested Watson and retrieved the watch.
  • 1858Sunday 27 June
    • John Gaunt of Barnsley was late returning from the Feast to Penistone Station. Spotting that the train was about to set off, he ran across a field to intercept it some 200 yards from the station. Despite the train moving at around 6mph, he was able to clamber into a carriage. He was fined 2s. 6d. plus costs.
    • Isaac Carr was also charged with attempting to board a moving train. Having returned from the Feast "the worse for liquor", he ran alongside the train but took a tumble and was lucky not to have been run over. On being helped back to the station, he was "most abusive". Carr was fined £1 plus costs.
  • 1863Sunday 28 June
  • 1864Sunday 26 June
    • The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company laid on a cheap train which departed Sheffield at 1pm and returned at 8:30pm. Return tickets were priced at 2s. for first class or 1s. for standard class.
  • 1865Sunday 25 June
  • 1866Sunday 1 July
  • 1868Sunday 28 June
  • 1869Sunday 27 June
  • 1870Sunday 26 June
    • The weather was extremely wet, which "completely spoiled the pleasure of the juveniles.
  • 1871Sunday 25 June & Monday 26 June
    • By 3pm on the Sunday, over 1,500 had arrived at Penistone Station for the Feast. The Shelley Brass Band played for dancing on the Sunday evening.
  • 1872Sunday 30 June
  • 1873Sunday 29 June & Monday 30 June
  • 1874Sunday 28 June & Monday 29 June
  • 1875Sunday 27 June
    • Around 2,000 people arrived via Penistone Station.
  • 1876Sunday 25 June & Monday 26 June
  • 1878Sunday 30 June & Monday 1 July
  • 1879Sunday 29 June
  • 1880Saturday 26 June & Sunday 27 June
  • 1881Sunday 26 June
  • 1882Sunday 25 June
  • 1883Sunday 1 July
  • 1884Saturday 28 June & Sunday 29 June
  • 1885Sunday 29 June
  • 1886Sunday 27 June & Monday 28 June
  • 1887Sunday 26 June
    • George Stones, landlord of the Rose and Crown Inn, was charged with serving liquor outside of prohibited hours during the Feast.
  • 1888Sunday 1 July
    • Travelling photographer Thomas Tyler was charged under the Lord's Day Act after he had been caught taking photographs for paying customers on the Sunday.
  • 1889Sunday 30 June
  • 1890Sunday 29 June
    • As part of the festivities, the Penistone and Thurlstone Sunday School Committee ran an excursion of Bridlington. Around 580 took part.
  • 1895Sunday 30 June
    • The Penistone and Thurlstone Sunday Schools ran an excursion of Blackpool with around 600 attendees.
  • 1904Saturday 25 June & Sunday 26 June
    • The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported that unseasonal rain showers and hailstorms interrupted the events.
  • 1910Saturday 25 June & Sunday 26 June
  • 1915Sunday 27 June
    • Denby Dale miner George Henry Crossland visited the Feast with friends and had several pints before stumbling drunkenly into the Queen's Hotel in Penistone. Landlord Harry Thorpe asked him to leave and Crossland assault him. In court, to the amusement of all, Crossland claimed it took more than five drinks to get him drunk and that he "caught hold of the landlord's legs to save himself from falling down the steps of the hotel." One of Crossland's friends told the court that the accused went on to drink another seven drinks elsewhere after being kicked out of the Queen's Hotel.
  • 1934Saturday 30 June & Sunday 1 July

Notes and References

  1. Years of Grace: A Biographical Story of Life in a Rural Area of England, 1850-1973 (1985) by Phyllis Crossland.