Saddleworth tunes up for Whit Friday Band Contest
Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 13 June 2019
The Whit Friday Band contest scene at Diggle. Pictures courtesy of John Eccles
Saddleworth is gearing up for the “the greatest free show on earth” on Friday.
The day - come prepared for a long one - begins when proud villagers and bands turn the traditional Whit Friday walks into a theatre of joy.
Uppermill will be thronged by happy parishioners and young children following their banners to King George V playing fields for the annual United service merging hymn-singing and prayers at 11a.m.
Reverend Doctor Janet Wootton, President of the Congregational Federation, will give the address and clergy from the other churches play their part in the uplifting event before the congregation returns to their respective villages.
In the afternoon and evening, the villages welcome the expected battalion of brass bands.
More than a hundred, some from overseas, participated last year playing in twenty different locations with contests open to all-comers.
Each contest, run by volunteers, offers prizes for the best band, best youth band, best soloists, and you could expect to hear more than 50 bands at busier venues.
Winners are announced shortly after close (10.30 pm or 11.30pm, though most popular contests can go into the early hours).
Traffic and parking restrictions are imposed by OMBC in the immediate vicinity of each contest site where necessary, as well as road closures and diversions to allow the concerts and marches to take place.
@ Contests will be held at:
Lees and Springhead 4.30pm-10pm
Scouthead and Austerlands 4.15pm-11pm
@ Public Transport:
The only railway station is Greenfield. There are train services from Manchester Victoria and from Huddersfield - half-hourly in the early evening but only hourly for a late evening return.
The station is about mid-way between the Uppermill and Friezland contests - about 1/2 mile from each.
@ Bus services from Manchester and Oldham are:
Contest Bus Services
Greenacres 180, 184, X84
Lees 180, 184, X84
Lydgate 180, 184, X84
Friezland 180 (5 min), 184 (5 min), X84 (5 min), 350, 353
Greenfield 180, 184, X84, 350, 353
Uppermill 180, 184, X84, 350, 353, 354
Dobcross 180, 184, X84, 350, 354
Delph 82, X84, 350, 353, 354
Denshaw 351, 354, 407
Diggle 184, 354
Scouthead 82, 350
More information: for contests go online to:
@ For details of road closures and travel information during the Whit Walks and Band Contests, check Oldham Council’s website: https://www.oldham.gov.uk/bandcontest
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