Walking Day

Walking days are most common in rural communities in north west England where they are an annual event for many towns and villages.  Locally walking days tend to take place in villages in Warrington, St.Helens and Wigan.

There may be several churches involved in a local walking day, however, most walking days are held individually for each village. One of the earliest reports of Stretton Walking Day was in 1897:

The children assembled in the schools at 1.30pm, and shortly after walked to church, headed by the Warrington Blue Coat School Band. A short service and address by the Vicar, the Hon and Rev C V Cross was held after which the children left the church and went to the vicarage, where each child was supplied with refreshments, after which they were again marshalled in order and walked around the village, the band playing lively airs. After a few games in the vicarage field they all partook of tea in the schools. After tea racing and other games were indulged in until eight pm. The band playing the National Anthem concluded an enjoyable day for the children.

Stretton Walking Day early 1920s
Stretton Walking Day early 1920s

This photograph above  was probably taken around 1921 or 1922. Note the boy dressed as Felix the Cat in the bottom left of the picture. Thanks to Maureen Tweed getting in touch below, we now know that Felix the Cat was in fact Joe Wilkinson, and the little girl walking in the bottom right is Maureen’s mother. The lady in the middle with the white dress and dark hat is Jessie Dutton.

St. Matthew’s Church, Stretton, has been associated with Stretton Walking Day for over 40 years, with the names of nearly all The Rose Queen and Attendants, dating back to 1968 listed here. There are a few gaps so if anyone has any more details, please do send them in.

Walking Day 1952
Walking Day 1952

Children play a big part through the ‘Walk of Faith’ where churches,  Sunday school attendees, village schools, the Boys’ Brigade, the Scouts and the Girl Guides, all walk together in procession throughout the village.

Stretton Walking Day takes place in July – click here for more information about Stretton Walking Day today.

The photo below is from Walking Day around 1935 and has been provided by Heather Coulson (nee Heesom) whose grandmother is pictured:

walking day 1 approx 1952

Thanks to Jack Billington’s recollections of Walking Day during the Second World War we know that in those days the proceedings started with flower competitions held on the new vicarage lawn. These were both garden and wild categories for at least two age groups and cash prizes were given to first and second places. These were a useful addition to any pocket money for the rides at the Fair on the Saturday evening. Jack remembers that he won the wild flowers in 1945 despite some mocking from other boys. Mostly only girls had flowers but the cash was worth the ribbing. His elder sister had won it the year before as there were plenty of wild flowers to collect on the farm (Brookside Farm) with four pits (including lovely white water lilies in one pit) and wild areas.

After a short service there was a procession headed by the church cross and choir. The Salvation Army Band played. At the back the milk wagon belonging to the Blackshaws picked up small and tired children on the route.

The Route was straight across the road from the church (now Spark Hall Close as it was before the M6 was built), then into Northwich Road, right into Hall Lane at Lane End farm, then right again onto Tarporley Road at Wallspit House and right again at Mounfield’s corner as it was called opposite the Cat and Lion. A few years later the route changed as it was said there was no one to watch. Then they walked up London Road as far as Owen’s Corner and back. In those days there was no Rose Queen.

Tea was served in two sittings, with sports races including flat, sack and three legged, with again cash for first and second, whilst the ‘Sally Band’ played.

At the Fair was a large roundabout for the older children and adults, a small one for the younger children, as well as the usual side stalls. It was usually held in the field behind the church, depending on the rotation of crops, or the field behind the church hall.

Heather Coulson (nee Heesom) has kindley supplied the photo below from 1952:

walking day 1 1952

In the photo are:

Ruth Simpson (Heesom); Ann Billington; Nancy Heesom; Joan Baines

Pam Heesom; Sue Tosh (nee Cartwright); Ann Brody; Mary Brocklehurst; Joan Bettles; Carol Phoenix; Josie Hankey; Jackie Unsworth; possibly Hazel Isherwood; possibly Brenda Merril; Mavis Gresty.

The two gentlemen are Bill Hankey and Percy Mounfield.

walking day 2 1950s (2)

The photo above is from the 1950s and includes the following girls:

Gaynor Bibby; Carol Harrison; Glennis Sleigh; Wendy Smith; Jean Beck;

Ann Newton; possibly Gaynor Haddock; unknown; unknown; Elizabeth Scragg; Rita Bradshaw; Mary Hill; Mavis Gresty; Jen Heesom

The minister below is Rev Pennell who was vicar of St. Matthews from 1959 until 1970 which makes this a photo from the 1960s. If anyone knows which year, please do get in touch below.Rev Pennell

The photo below was definitely taken in June 1960. It shows the Church Choir, a cherubic-looking individual in the forefront (Peter Hughes, aged 8½ whose parents took the photo). On his left at the front is Alan McKechnie, and behind Alan is Don Brocklehurst. The boy immediately in front of the Rev. T.E.N. Pennell is Dave Clark, but if anyone can recognise any others, then please do get in touch:

Walking Day 25 June 1960
Walking Day 25 June 1960

The photograph below from 1965 is kindly supplied by Joan Blackhsaw.
From the right. Susan Blackshaw; Rachel Blackshaw ( Walnut Tree Farm); behind Sally Dewar ( Newhaven, Norcott Brook, Tarporley Road); Elizabeth Owen; Elizabeth Blackshaw;  Caroline Fowles (girl with white shoes), Lower Hall Farm; tall girl to the left Michelle  from Sunset,  Stretton Road.

IMG_0641 - Copy
Walking Day 1965

Thanks to Susan Tosh (née Cartwright) we can date the photograph below as 1968. In that year the Queen was Adele Rawlinson; the crown bearer was Jane Cartwright and the girl at the front was Susan Blackshaw:

Stretton Walking Day E. Moore

Thanks to Robin Marshall for the following photographs. The first one was taken in 1976 and shows Mrs Lawrence, the head of St. Matthews School.

Mrs Lawrence, head of St. Matthews School

The photo below is also from 1976 and clearly shows the Beehive Stores behind the marching band:


The one below shows the Walking Day procession in 1978. Thanks to Ian Moore’s comments below we now know the following: Rose Queen Alison Webster, Attendants Emma Moore and Wendy Terry, Page boys Julian Marshal, Paul Laughlin and myself Ian Moore:

The procession below passing the Cat and Lion was taken in 1979:


This photograph was taken in 1982, and thanks to Ian Moore we know the lady on left pushing the pram was Cathy Rowlands and the baby Matthew Madigan

Walking Day 1982.jpg

Finally, one slightly nearer to the present this photograph was taken in 1985:

Walking Day 1985
Walking Day 1985

We have now gathered a really good collection of photographs from Walking Day through the years. The ambition is to have a photograph from every year, so we have a challenge on our hands. If you do have any photos that you would like to send in for everyone to see, do get in touch. In the meantime, enjoy the slide show below:

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10 thoughts on “Walking Day”

  1. My guess is that the Walking Day you suggest as late 1970s is actually 1960s. I have several (Kodachromes etc) of the walks in 1976, 78 & 79 and they were more populous by then and the clothes were different. I also have several pictures taken between 1973 and 1979, when we lived in Well House, Well Lane and you are welcome to use them all if you tell me where to send them. They are mostly colour and having all been digitised using a decent neg/slide scanner, they re up to modern standards.

    It was quite a shock, moving into Lower Stretton in 1973, being told by a mischievous resident that I would have to get used to the Bratts and the Savages.

  2. The photo regarding vicar Pennell, the choir boys are, Richard Brown, Keith McKechnie, Jim Cartwright, Bob Clayton, the guy obscured don’t know and James Maddock in front of vicar Pennell

  3. The Walking Day picture for June 1960 has the two churchwardens on either side of the Reverend T. E. N. Pennell. On his right is Frank Thorne, on his left Wallace Miln, my Father.

  4. Re the 1952 picture….boy carrying the cross is I think, Colin Seabrook. Vicar is Rev White. I believe the taller boy at the back is Steve Pullen who later became a vicar. I should be on here but can’t recognise myself!

  5. The photo from Heather Coulson (Heesom) labelled 1952 is in
    correctly dated. I am in it aged about 9 and I was born in 1951……

  6. 1978 Walking Day- Rose Queen Alison Webster, Attendants Emma Moore and Wendy Terry, Page boys Julian Marshal, Paul Laughlin and myself Ian Moore.
    1982 Lady on left pushing pram Cathy Rowlands and Baby Matthew Madigan

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