KNUTSFORD Royal May Day Festival is the only one if its kind in the UK.

The town’s heritage centre has highlighted some notable events throughout as we take a look back at its 158-year history.

The first May Day Festival on May 7, 1864 was a general holiday, with flags and banners hanging from almost every tradesman’s window.

Knutsford Guardian: May Day Festival in the 1890sMay Day Festival in the 1890s

Reports in the Northwich Guardian describe the procession as ‘upwards of quarter of a mile, containing 1,000 scholars’.

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Annie Sarah Pollitt was crowned queen, the band played and children danced until 6.30pm when it rained.

A committee of local tradespeople was formed in 1877 to organise the annual event.

Knutsford Guardian: Knutsford Royal May Day in 1935Knutsford Royal May Day in 1935

That same year, the May queen had to walk for safety reasons after the horses leading the carriage became frisky.

Morris dancers appeared for the first time in 1878.

The Godley Hill Morris Men were ‘paid very handsomely' adding life and colour to the procession.

Knutsford Guardian: Knutsford Royal May Day in 1936Knutsford Royal May Day in 1936

Their leader Robert Brooks had been born in a cottage opposite The White Bear.

The Prince and Princess of Wales bestowed a royal prefix on the festival when they visited the town in 1887.

The May queen was presented to the royal couple outside the Town Hall.

Crowds cheered as she was crowned in front of the Princess.

The full May Day festivities were held that year on May 24, to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

In May 1914, the town celebrated Royal May Day just before the impending war resulted in the event being cancelled for five years.

The festival resumed in 1919 amid much excitement.

By 1930, the fairground was bigger than ever with more than 10 large riding machines and 11 shows.

In September 1939, festivities halted again as the country was seized by the Second World War.

The May queen remained in office for eight years until 1947 when the festival returned.

Clothing coupons had to be obtained on the black market to buy white satin material for the queen’s dress.

In 1944, General Patton set up HQ at Peover Hall and The Heath was used as a camp for the US Third Army.

The festival moved to Tatton Park as The Heath had to be re-ploughed.

The pandemic in 2020 was the third time festivities had to be cancelled.

The May queen elect and her court had been chosen and all the children selected for their character costumes.

This year’s festival returns on Saturday, May 7 when Lily-May Newall will be crowned May queen.