The Hartlepool tradition which stretches back 550 years

Queen of the Feast Irene Adams with her attendants.
Queen of the Feast Irene Adams with her attendants.
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It all started in the 15th Century and the tradition has remained strong ever since.

Greatham Feast has been an annual attraction in the village near Hartlepool for centuries.

The sack race which attracted some keen competitors at Greatham Feast in 1956.

The sack race which attracted some keen competitors at Greatham Feast in 1956.

And as this year’s event looms ever closer, we delved into the archives to look at the feast of 60 years ago in 1956.

As always, there was the annual procession and a whole array of summer games, including the sack race, the needle and thread event, and flat races for every level of junior from under-sixes and upwards.

The Queen of the Feast that year was Miss Irene Adams who is pictured with her attendants. They kept up the tradition of throwing sweets and money into the crowd as they proceeded along the “royal” route.

The whole village, and people from further afield, packed into Greatham well into the evening to celebrate the great occasion.

Three cheers for the Queen of the Feast, Miss Irene Adams, and her attendants - especially when they throw handfuls of sweets and coins into the crowds. They did so at frequent intervals along the ‘royal’ route.

Northern Daily Mail reporter, 1956

One place which was used as a venue for sports events was the beautifully wooded grounds of Greatham Hall, then the home of Canon E.B. Adamson, vicar of Greatham and Master of the Hospital.

The grounds were used for the flat races which attracted a huge audience.

Competitors that year included Farquharson, Pont, Bell, Kirby, Crowe, Hapgood, Cosgrove, Thornton, Tully, Carter, Durham and Harrison.

Another big event in 1956 was bands night. Thousands thronged the streets to watch five of Hartlepool’s juvenile jazz bands as they marched and played their way through the village.

The Feast has been held in the village since the 15th Century and its aim was to help bring the community together.

It all started as a celebration of the birthday of St John the Baptist which is on June 24.

Four days of events are now held with the idea of having something for everyone.

This year’s feast begins on Thursday, June 23, and continues until Sunday, June 26.

Events include darts and dominoes, the yard of ale competition and a children’s five-a-side football contest.

There will be a pensioners tea party, a baby show as well as the traditional church service at the parish church of St John the Baptist.

On the Saturday afternoon, crowds will gather on the village green after the fancy dress parade.

There will be amusements and stalls for people to enjoy, a barbecue and live entertainment from a band.

What are your memories from the Feast down the years.

Which are the traditions you love the most.

Get in touch and tell us more.

Contact Chris Cordner by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.