Yorkshire Day marked with miners 'Josh wedding'

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Josh WeddingImage source, Leeds City Council
Image caption,
The revived tradition of a Josh Wedding at Lotherton Hall

Retired miners are reviving an unusual industry tradition by dressing up as a bride and groom for a pretend wedding to mark Yorkshire Day.

Devised in 1911, a "Josh wedding" was a way of raising money to pay for a hospital bed for injured miners.

A parade at Lotherton Hall in Leeds featured the tradition.

Elsewhere, Ripon - the county's smallest city - was chosen as the official host of Yorkshire Day with 200 dignitaries marching through the town.

Yorkshire Day was first celebrated on 1 August 1975 to restore pride in the whole region.

It prompted many comments on social media, making reference to stereotypical Yorkshire traits.

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This year Sheffield will mark the occasion with a series of displays by Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers who will be celebrating the traditional English folk dance which originated in the county.

A huge mural by Sheffield artist Jo Peel has also been painted on the back of Globe Works in Kelham Island, featuring familiar Yorkshire places.

Media caption,

The mural has been painted on a wall at the back of Globe Works, a former cutlery factory (courtesy of Plusnet/Jo Peel)

In Leeds' Kirkgate Market, shoppers and traders tried to gain the record for having the most flat caps worn at any one time in a single venue.

Final numbers still have to be verified but the organisers are hopeful of securing the record.

Image source, David Ward
Image caption,
The Yorkshire flag is flying in Ripon for the day's celebrations

Yorkshire Day

  • First marked by the Yorkshire Ridings Society (YRS) in 1975.
  • YRS formed in 1974 to campaign for the traditional boundaries of Yorkshire, which had been altered.
  • The date was picked as it was on that day in 1759 that soldiers from Yorkshire regiments picked white roses to lie alongside fallen comrades on the battlefield of Minden in Germany.
Image source, Leeds Museum
Image caption,
The pretend weddings saw "guests" donate money for the injured miners
Image source, Leeds City Council
Image caption,
A parade of banners was also part of the celebrations

The parade at Lotherton Hall was led by former miners and will feature the unusual spectacle of a Josh - or "joke" - wedding, which were originally held in Yorkshire villages in the 20th Century to collect food for the poor.

Before the NHS, they were a way of raising money to fund a bed at the then Leeds General, which could used by injured miners.

According to those who attended, a laundry basket was always used to collect donations and they were held every year until the NHS began in 1948 but only very intermittently afterwards.

Image source, Leeds Museum
Image caption,
The tradition began to die out after the birth of the NHS

Recalling the tradition, Bill Heszlegrave, 79, who worked at Pecklefield Pit in Micklefield, said: "They had a bride and groom and even a vicar and a horse and cart.

"In the old days people used to donate buns and food, then it was money for the bed at LGI [Leeds General].

"It's really important to us to be celebrating miners on Yorkshire Day."

Mr Heszlegrave said Britain and Yorkshire "were once built on coal mining and it's something that should never be forgotten".

Tim Staddon, an eyewitness to such a wedding, said: "Josh Weddings didn't die out completely in the 40s.

"I lived in Micklefield between 2004 and 2012, and we definitely saw at least one [and being a southerner I'd never even heard of it until we saw it]."

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