THIS week, the original May Queen, Miss Annie Sarah Pollitt, gives her impressions of the ‘modern’ May Day festival of 1914. We discover how the festival played an important role in her life, not just in her year as Queen, but in the subsequent decades.


Mrs. Jackson, of Stanley-road, who fifty years ago was little Miss Annie Sarah Pollitt, and who, on that memorable occasion, was what may be described as the hub of the festivities, has pleasant recollections of the first festival. Mrs. Jackson is now approaching three score years and ten, and there is no mistaking the fact that the burden of years has been kind to her.

Though she needs only five more birthdays to complete the seventieth anniversary, she is well and hearty. She distinctly remembers how the formation of the festival aroused a great deal of interest throughout the district, and in the organisation of it the Misses Clowes and Mr. G. W. Clarke took a leading part after which it received the hearty support of the late Rev. H. Barnacle, who for many years was the respected vicar of the parish.

At that time Miss Pollitt lived with her parents at the Lord Eldon, and she has a vivid recollection of the stir which the anticipated festival created among the juvenile population, especially as the school boys had the power of selecting the Queen. Miss Pollitt had only one rival for the coveted honour, a daughter of Mr. Darwell, who was at that time a veterinary surgeon in the town. It was a case of the selection of the prettiest girl, and by a large majority the school boys proved to be excellent judges, for we can imagine that Mrs. Jackson, at fourteen years of age and afterwards, had much of the beauty of her sex.

The Queen-elect was the recipient of hearty congratulations and she set an example to the Queens of all times. The proceedings went throughout without a hitch, and as the fame of the festival spread, the annual number of spectators increased. The crown bearer was Thomas Mullin.

Even fifty years ago Miss Stevenson was an active worker for the festival, and her special duty was, as it is to-day, to act as chaperone to the Queen, and Mrs. Jackson well remembers the interest that Miss Stevenson displayed in her. It has been the pleasing duty of Miss Stevenson to convey the news of her selection to almost every Queen-elect, and also to accompany the Queen’s carriage in the pageant, and it was a pleasure to see her in this year’s pageant close at hand to give the Queen any requisite assistance.

Mrs. Jackson, although agreeing that the simplicity of the festival proceedings of years ago appealed to a large number, confessed that development was inevitable and the inclusion of the adult, picturesque and comic sections of the present were more or less necessary if the patronage of such vast concourses of persons who now annually visit the town was to be retained. Even in the early days there was a strong feeling that there should be characters in addition to the children.

In later years Miss Pollitt married Mr. Edwin Jackson, and all their children have taken a leading part in the festivals. Mr. Jackson was landlord of the Feathers Inn until his death some years ago, and the licence was continued by Mrs. Jackson until it was taken away under the Licensing Compensation Act, and after a residence there extending to 33 years Mrs. Jackson removed to Stanley-road.

Thanks goes to Mary Gracie for transcribing original articles.