Sunday, 2 August 2015

Alexandra Rose Day in Halifax

From the Halifax Courier, 31st July 1915.




Alexandra Rose Day, observed in Halifax on Saturday, for the benefit of the Royal Halifax Infirmary and the Nursing Institution, was attended with all the success it deserved.  This was due primarily to a committee whose enthusiasm knew no bounds, to quite 3,000 helpers who reflected the committee's ardour, and not least to the splendid weather.  So ardently did the rose distributors work that the proportion of returned roses was small.  Large as the call for them was, awkward as was the task of keeping those in the busy parts well supplied, there was no hitch, thanks to the committee's splendid organisation.

The feature of the rose selling was undoubtedly the Mayoress's stall in George-square.  Here the Mayoress, with many helpers, dispensed real roses of every description.  Her helpers included as persuasive sellers as she could have wished for in some of the wounded soldiers staying in local institutions.  Of the 14 of these men who helped, six of these men assisted the Mayoress and rarely did they appeal in vain.  In fact, they had not to solicit, being kept busy by voluntary purchasers.  It is of interest to state that, at the Mayoress's stall, the first gold was given.  The presence in George-square until noon of the Depot Band, under Mr. Hancock’s direction, considerably helped in drawing attention to the stall.  Selections of a bright and happy character was ably given.

Residents of Crossfields have made it a condition never to let a fete day pass without adding their quota to the rejoicings.  They were up early to make their none too lovely surroundings bright and gay.  Streamers in loyal colours, flags, vari-coloured lanterns, ivy, ferns, and flowers were brought into use.  All the little by-ways were thus adorned and if any street was more attractive than another it was Milk-street, which was veritably hidden 'neath these decorations.  “We've done it all ourselves,” said a proud housekeeper, as she scrubbed the doorway to make it more in keeping with the occasion, “for all our husbands have gone to the front.”  During the day a piano organ (arranged for by Mrs. W. W. Burrell, who had had charge of the district), and Southowram Band, gave selections, their presence drawing coppers from sightseers.

It was a happy inspiration of the Halifax Automobile Association to add to the fete by arranging a decorated motor car competition, not only thus helping to push the sale of roses; but providing a spectacular event which was worth seeing.  The excellent weather, no doubt, accounted for the large crowd which assembled to watch the judging.  More than 20 cars were presented for competition.  Everyone agreed that the car of Mr. Wm. Greenwood, President of the Automobile Association, was the feature of the competition.  It had been surmounted by a framework, fitted with imitation funnels, that gave it the appearance of a steamer, and the whole absolutely covered with red, white and blue sweet peas, set in smilax.  Mr. Morris's car had a huge crown of roses, while roses and other blooms clothed the whole, wheels included, in a most ingenious way.  ….

… What the profit will be can, of course, only be estimated yet, but it is safe to say that it will be over £1,000.  When the meeting was held some weeks back deciding to hold a rose day, an offer was made from Huddersfield that their rose baskets, etc. could be lent for the day.  But our neighbours had another collection on Saturday, which made it necessary for the Halifax committee to purchase all the required things, hence the initial expense was heavier than anticipated.  Seeing, however, that the rose day is to be held annually, future expense will be much less.

At Ripponden and Rishworth, Rose Day undoubtedly caught on.  The large staff of flower sellers seemed very enthusiastic about their work.  Wagonette parties and motor cars coming from over Lancashire were “held up” until the inmates had patronised the flower sellers, a request which was invariably readily acceded to.  Upwards of 60 boxes were out at Ripponden, and each lady was relieved after two hours' duty.  The first supply of 4,000 roses was practically sold out in a few hours, and a further 2,000 were obtained, and these, too, were sold early in the evening.  The streets presented quite a gay appearance, flags, etc., being hung from several shops, houses, and buildings, and everywhere the festival spirit prevailed.  The garden parties undoubtedly attracted a number of people to the district, and at both Ripponden and Rishworth large numbers paid for admission.  At Brigroyd, the residence of Mrs. Ayre, the grounds were in an excellent state, and were greatly admired.  Over £6 was taken at the gates for admission.  Various games, including bowls, croquet, tennis; clock golf, etc., were well patronised, whilst an Aunt Sally stall, too, did good business.  The Blackburn Valley Brass Band and the Ripponden Church Handbell Ringers gave pleasing selections of music throughout the day.

[Alexandra Rose Day was started in 1912 by Queen Alexandra, widow of Edward VII, to raise money for  her favourite charities.  The first Rose Day took place only in London, but it rapidly spread to other towns and cities.  Sellers offered either paper roses or sometimes (as at the Mayoress's stall in Halifax) real ones, in exchange for a donation.  A film of Alexandra Rose Day in Sheffield in 1915 can be viewed on the British Film Institute's web site. 

 The Alexandra Rose Charities  still exist - currently supporting poor families to eat healthily.]

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