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Yorkshire Day –The What & Why

Sue Bosomworth

We all know Yorkshire and, in particular, Filey is the best place to be, but have you ever wondered why it has its own celebratory day? Did you know our little town once played host to the great and the good of the county for a Yorkshire Day celebration?

The idea of Yorkshire Day came about when the Government boundary changes in 1974 did away with the traditional three Ridings. The Yorkshire Ridings Society had campaigned long and hard against the abolition of the Ridings and wanted to preserve the traditions and celebrate the diversity and culture of the three ridings. The first Yorkshire Day was celebrated in 1975 and has grown year on year until, in 1985, the first “Official Yorkshire Day Civic Celebration” took place in York. Since then, different towns and cities across the county have taken turns in hosting the day when Mayors and Dignitaries from around the county gather to celebrate all that makes Yorkshire great. The format of the day includes a reception, thanksgiving service, procession through the streets and a lunch with guest speaker. During the proceedings the Yorkshire Day Flag is handed over to the host town council who adds its coat of arms to the flag to commemorate their year.

So, why was August 1st chosen as Yorkshire Day?

The day was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Battle of Minden, a historic battle during the seven-year war in which Napoleon’s army fought their way through western Germany and faced an allied force of Prussian, Hanoverian and British forces outside the town of Minden. It was on August 1st in 1759 that British forces of the 51st Foot (re named the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) passed through gardens in Minden that were full of white roses reminding them of their Yorkshire homes. They picked roses and wore them to remind them of their fallen comrades. The allied army defeated the French and Minden Day is celebrated on August 1st with white roses traditionally worn to commemorate those who fell in the battle. Filey Town Council traditionally lay a wreath of white roses in the Memorial Gardens on this day.

Communities across Yorkshire celebrate the day in many ways, follow traditions particular to their town and highlight the historic contribution their area has made to the rich diverse patchwork that is Yorkshire. The one common element is the raising of the Yorkshire Flag and the reading of “The Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity”. Which is usually read by a Town Crier or prominent resident.

When Filey Hosted Yorkshire Day in 2002

After months of planning, Filey played host to the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, Mayors and Chairmen of Yorkshire Town and Parish Councils, the Chief Constable of Yorkshire who were among other high-ranking officials as well as the town’s “adopted son,” Jackie Charlton, and Yorkshire legend Dickie Bird.

It was a Thursday and it started out with a huge downpour, but we all know a bit of weather never stops Yorkshire folk from carrying out their plans. Meeting at the secondary school on Muston Road, guests were greeted by Aileen Newbury, Mayor of Filey, for coffee and official photo. Buses then took the guests to St Oswald’s Church for the service. Recollections are of Civic robes steaming in the church as the rain-soaked garments recovered from a short procession into the Church and puddles forming on the church floor. Luckily the rain eased off for planned entertainment to take place throughout the town. This included Hunmanby Silver Band performing in the Crescent Garden Bandstand, The White Rose Dancers display in the Gardens, Yorkshire Coast Morris Men and Filey’s very own Mississippi Dixielanders at various venues around the town. Sea Cadets and other organisations and voluntary groups supplied games, displays and tombola stalls to add to the celebrations.

The Civic party returned to the school for lunch and after lunch, speaker Dickie Bird, entertained in his usual style, pausing halfway through to take a phone call where the caller was treated to a run down of Dickie’s day. Quoted in the press as saying he’s a “Yorkshire man through and through” he spoke of his pride in Yorkshire and how pleased he was to be part of the day.

After lunch, the Civic party were escorted to the various locations to enjoy a flavour of the entertainment on offer.

Filey is one of the smallest towns to host this event, a huge achievement, as the Boss and I know from experience, no matter how enjoyable an experience, how exhausting the day can be having spent Yorkshire Day 2016 in Halifax as part of the ‘chain gang’.

So, while the Mayor attends the main event, Deputy Mayors officiate at local events. Look out for events in Filey Memorial Gardens to celebrate Yorkshire Day 2023 starting at 10.30am

Information for this article came from : The Yorkshire Society Crimlisk Fisher Archives (articles from The Filey & Hunmanby Mercury) Personal recollections from those involved

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