Clubs herald start of gala season

Kirkham Club Day procession in 1951

Kirkham Club Day procession in 1951

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Gala season is now in full swing across the Fylde coast.

And two traditional Fylde club days have already heralded the start of the summer – Kirkham and Wesham Club Day and Freckleton Club Day. Both events – which often see many former residents come back to their hometown to catch-up with family and friends, even from abroad – have been going for more than 150 years.

Freckleton Club Day is thought to have originated with the friendly societies in the early 19th century. The earliest documented mention appears in the proposals passed at a township meeting in May 1879, although it is thought festivities had already been going on for some 20 years. Both family-friendly days include a procession, the crowing of the rose queens and a fair.

The modern-day Freckleton Club Day could even be called “club weekend”, as it covers both Saturday and Sunday.

The parade winds it way through the village on the Saturday morning by the various church organisations, bands, schools, scouting associations and May Queens. It is followed by a short service and presentation in the Church of England school playground, while a fair is held on the fields – including various sporting events. As part of the festivities, the Freckleton Half Marathon takes place on the Sunday. In 2005, a fun run was also introduced – a two-mile route around the village.

Kirkham and Wesham Club Day has also kept its traditional roots – it does not allow commercial floats in the “procession of witness”, which snakes through the town centre, usually attracting more than 1,000 people. In 2000, to mark the Millennium event, rose queens from the last 68 years walked with the six retiring and new rose queen for that year. The ever-popular family day is still going strong, despite threats from increasing insurance costs, lack of volunteers and the introduction of more stringent health and safety rules over the years.