Gawthorpe Maypole Procession

Where and When…

Due to the Coronation of King Charles III, the May Day celebrations in Gawthorpe this year will take place one week later than usual on Saturday 13th May 2023 starting from Highfields School, Gawthorpe Lane, Gawthorpe.

Everybody entering the event must register, whether they are taking part as fancy dress or entering a float. This can be done visiting the Maypole Cabin – 50 yrds down from the Shoulder of Mutton Pub in Gawthorpe.

All involved in the procession are asked to meet at Highfield’s School in Gawthorpe where they will be given further instructions.

The procession will start at 2.00pm sharp and will take the following route:

Procession Route…

From Highfield’s school, it will take a loop down High Street in the village, up Pickering, across Cross Street and then back in front of the Shoulder of Mutton Pub. The procession will then leave the village and travel down Swithenbank, and out onto Leeds Road. At the round-a-bout it will turn left down Kingsway. Once at the Co-op the procession will turn right onto Ventnor Way and follow the road round turning left onto Bank Street. The procession will park here and take a break in the Community Centre.

Outbound from the Community Centre, the procession will turn left onto Prospect Road and then continue up Church Street. The procession stops outside the Nursing Home at the top of Church Street where the brass band plays for the elderly people. Finally the procession turns back into the village and continues up Bridal Avenue in Gawthorpe before reaching the Maypole Green where the May Queen and her Maids gather on the Green

The Old Folks tea takes place at the Darby and Joan club in Gawthorpe on the following Monday

How you can get involved…

There are many ways in which you can get involved in the Maypole Procession that can benefit both YOU and the community


Perhaps you are a local business who is just starting out, or a well established business that is looking to interact with the local people of Wakefield… This event is perfect for you! By entering a decorated floated themed around your companies business you can advertise in a fun and effective way.


If you are a school or pub, why not generate a competition between you and someone else locally to you – You never know you may win the top prize in your category!

Unfortunately the entire concept of the Mayday Celebrations, The World Coal Carrying Championships and The Pensioners Treat could cease to exist due to lack of funding and support from within the community as a whole. You can make sure this doesn’t happen.


Maypole dancing dates back as far as Richard II in England, and during the reign of Henry VIII reached most of the rural villages including Gawthorpe.

In 1850 a local gentleman by the name of Mr. A. Pollard suggested and bought the first recorded permanent Maypole.
The current Maypole was erected in 1986 after the previous one ( erected 1953 ) was found on inspection to be unsafe and liable to collapse at any time.

In 1906 the local school children, both boys and girls, were taught the intricate steps of Maypole dancing by Mrs. Stephens a teacher at the school. In 1927 a Miss Green joined the school and assisted in the instruction of the various dance sequences. These consist of one of the most comprehensive plaiting sequences in the country. These are; Ropes, The Barbers Pole, The Single Plait, The Double Plait, The Spiders Web, The Gypsy’s Tent and The Centenary Polka. It takes approximately six months to teach the dance steps to the dancers, and as the seniors leave for secondary school at eleven, they are replaced by 8 / 9 year olds from the earlier years.

The procession route is approximately 4 1/2 miles with a 20 / 30 minute break at Ossett Community centre half way round. The procession itself consists of decorated floats, normally based on a given theme, (1998’s theme was the Football World Cup) (1999’s theme is the procession through the years.), entered by local schools, church organisations and manufacturing companies. Children in a variety of fancy dress costumes, Marching Bands, Majorettes, Horses along with various other competitors and of course the May Queen and her attendants. There is also a Funfair, provided by ” Robinson’s for more than 100 years “, within walking distance which has the various rides and usual type of entertainment associated with them.

The local dignitaries normally invited to partake in the procession are the Mayors of Wakefield Council and Kirklees Council.  Also the local MPs for the same two areas are invited to attend.  Along with the various Ossett and Gawthorpe Ward Councillors for the area.