Rushcart returns to Saddleworth.
Thursday 30th August 2018 @ 20:28 by Anna Fletcher
Community Entertainment Events Mossley & Saddleworth News

The community turned out in force to celebrate this year’s Saddleworth Rushcart Festival.

Organised by the Saddleworth Morris Men, the tradition dates back to the 1800s, and involves gathering rushes for church floors. Every village or hamlet would build a Rushcart and each would try to out-do the neighbouring village by building a bigger or more elaborate structure with the front covered by a sheet decorated with tinsel and artificial flowers and hung with polished copper, brass and silver household items. Rushcarts were originally pulled by horses but one of the horses in Delph bolted and killed the rider so the dancers pulled it. The Rushcarts eventually died out, but the tradition is still upheld in a few places including Saddleworth where it is organised by the Saddleworth Morris Men.

A single ‘jockey’ sat atop the cart which was about 13 feet tall and toured the local villages on Saturday attracting large crowds. The cart visited Greenfield, Uppermill, Delph, Dobcross and Diggle before heading to St Chad’s Church, the Church Inn and Cross Keys in Uppermill on Sunday. The cart was accompanied by a big group of Morris Men from around the country.

The event also saw the changing of the Squire for the Morris Men with the outgoing Squire, Saddleworth’s Eddie Worrall, dancing in new Squire Pete Simpson from Birmingham.

Previous Squire and musician for Saddleworth Morris Men, Richard Hankinson, said: “It was really good considering the weather, we really enjoyed ourselves and lots of people came out to support us. The wrestling was cancelled due to the weather, but we did do the gurning thanks to St Chad’s letting us into the church out of the rain. Big thank you to all organisers and supporters and those who came out to support this great tradition.”