GEE CROSS and DISTRICT WOMEN’S INSTITUTE

HISTORY OF GEE CROSS WELL DRESSINGS

Records revealed that ‘well dressings’ were held regularly in Gee Cross from the 1820’s until around 1878. The Gee Cross and District Women’s Institute re-introduced the celebrations in the year 2000, and celebrations have taken place annually since then.

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSINGS 2014

The Gee Cross & District Women's Institute are pleased to report the success of yet another year's community well dressings in Gee Cross. Our picture for the year 2014 was dedicated to the centenary of the First World War 1914 - 1919, in memory of all those who gave their lives for our freedom. Again, we were blessed with really good weather. A crowd of well over 300 people followed Adamson's Brass Band to each of the seven art displays created by the local schools, churches, and local guide groups, and on to a community service held in Hyde Chapel, Gee Cross.

2011

SUNDAY13th JULY at 2pm, starting from the Grapes Hotel, Gee Cross. Adamson's Military Band will lead everyone to each of the 7 Art displays in the village, a mixture of traditional and modern art created by local Schools, Groups, and Church, and Booth's Well, near to the Grapes Hotel, dressed in the traditional way of petalling by the Gee Cross & District Women's Institute members and friends. The walk around will finish with a Community Service in Hyde Chapel, Gee Cross. EVERYONE INVITED.

There will be a report after the event and also a picture of Booth's Well. The theme we have chosen this year is the First World War. Lest we forget.

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELLDRESSINGS 2013

The Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute are pleased to report the success of yet another year’s community well dressings in Gee Cross. Our picture for the year 2013 is of NEWTON HALL, in support of the Lost History of Newton Hall project 2012/2013.

Again, we were blessed with really good weather and a really good turn out of the crowds who followed Adamsons Military Band to each of the seven art displays created by the local schools, churches, and guide and scout groups.

Newton Hall was built around the year 1380 as the grand manor home of the de Newton family. One of the earliest timber framed buildings in the region, the hall changed from domestic to agricultural use over the centuries. Eventually it was encased in brick and became used as a barn for the farm that occupied part of the site. When the farm buildings were being demolished in the 1960’s the ancient cruck- framed construction was revealed and demolition work stopped immediately. The original medieval hall with its huge curved oak cruck trusses was preserved.

2011

The 2014 Well Dressings will be held on Sunday 13th July, 2 pm starting from the Grapes Hotel, in Gee Cross. Everyone welcome.

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSINGS 2012

This year we were ‘blessed’ with a beautiful warm and sunny day - not an umbrella in sight. The displays by local schools, Dowson Primary, Gee Cross Holy Trinity and Alder Community High School were colourful and were based on the Queen’s Jubilee and also the Olympics. The Guides, Brownies and Rainbows of Holy Trinity Church and Hyde Chapel had worked together to produce a wonderful picture made in the traditional way of pressing seeds and flowers into clay. The Scouts joined in with an outdoor theme of camping, and this year, for the first time, we welcomed Stockport Road Methodist Church members and friends who produced a beautiful and vibrant stained glass window effect picture scene of sun and sea …and God said “Let There Be Light”. ‘Booth’s Well’, as previous years, had been beautifully dressed by members and friends of the Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute. Adamson’s Band led the crowds to each well display, and finally to Hyde Chapel for the community celebration service. During the service we were well entertained with singing by Dowson and Gee Cross Holy Trinity Primary School choirs, the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, and a miscellany of music by Adamson’s Band.

“Thank you” to everyone who helped to make the day so successful, to the people who attended the event, and to the people and organisations who had given donations.

GEE CROSS & DISTRICT WOMEN’S INSTITUTE
theme “The Old Curiosity Shop”

Our theme for 2012 celebrates the bi-centenary of the life of Charles Dickens.

CHARLES JOHN HUFFAM DICKENS was an English writer and social critic who is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian Period. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters. His novels and short stories continue to enjoy popularity among the general reading public. Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth, England. He left school at an early age to work in a factory, after his father was imprisoned on debt charges. His early impoverishment drove him to succeed. He was also a theatre enthusiast, wrote plays, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education and other social reforms. Dickens died of a stroke in 1870, and was buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.

2011

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSINGS 2011

We are delighted to report yet another successful well dressing event. The torrential rain did not stop play and the hundreds of umbrellas following Adamsons Band around the village to view the 5 well dressings, created by local schools and youth groups, and ‘Booth’s Well’ dressed by the Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute were well rewarded.

GEE CROSS & DISTRICT WOMEN’S INSTITUTE’ theme

‘A wedding with a difference’

Ideas for our theme this year did include the Royal Wedding—but we thought that by July the wedding might be almost forgotten. We thought about other ’special’ weddings too. What about a'nonsense wedding'? someone suggested - and so ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ was declared winner.

It was 140 years ago that the artist and poet Edward Lear first published his ‘book of nonsense’ songs.– one of which of course was “The Owl and the Pussycat”. Edward Lear’s books have delighted people for many years and we hope that our picture this year will appeal to your sense of humour.

2011

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSINGS 2010

We are pleased to report yet another successful well dressing event, at which we were honoured and delighted by the presence of the Civic Mayor of Tameside (Cllr Jean Brazil) and Mayoral Consort, Sydney Brazil. The weather was dry and warm and crowds of people followed Adamson’s Band to each well display and finally to Hyde Chapel for the community celebration service. During the service we were entertained by Dowson Primary School and Gee Cross Holy Trinity School choirs, and songs by the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides of Holy Trinity Church and Hyde Chapel, followed by a selection of music played by Adamsons Band.

The Wizard of Oz was the theme for the Women’s Institute well dressing display at Booth’s Well.

The story of the Wizard of Oz was written by L.Frank Baum in 1899 and has been a firm favourite of children ever since.

A sad and lonely Dorothy, who lives with an Aunt and Uncle in Kansas, longs to go “Over the Rainbow” where she believes she will find happiness. One day she and her dog Toto are caught up in the path of a tornado which lands them in the Land of Oz. Here she meets a scarecrow who needs a brain, a tin man who wants a heart and a cowardly lion who desperately needs courage. They travel together to meet the Wizard who helps them achieve their dreams.

As in many children’s stories there are underlying themes that we can apply to life today. The story was immortalised in the film starring Judy Garland in 1939 and is currently being revived as a West End Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

2010

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSINGS 2009

The Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute are pleased to report the success of yet another year’s community well dressing celebrations.

This year the event was ‘blessed’ with a sunny day with just the occasional light shower. Crowds of people followed Adamsons Band to each well display, and finally to Hyde Chapel for the community celebration service. During the service we were entertained by Dowson Primary School and Holy Trinity Primary School choirs, and songs by the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides of Holy Trinity Church and Hyde Chapel, followed by a selection of popular tunes by Adamsons Band.

‘The Bandstand in Hyde Park’ was the theme for the well dressing display at Booth’s well.

The bandstand was officially opened in May 1922 and is now Grade II listed on the national “List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest”.

The bandstand was originally surrounded by moveable glass partitions and played host to bands such as the Household Cavalry, Black Watch and local colliery bands. During the 1930’s the bandstand hosted two concerts every Sunday. It is now used on special events during the summer months.

2009

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSINGS - 20 JULY 2008

The Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute are pleased to report the success of yet another year’s community well dressing celebrations.

This year the event was ‘blessed’ with a sunny dry day, and crowds of people followed Adamsons Band to each well display, and finally to Hyde Chapel for the community celebration service. During the service we were entertained by Dowson Primary School and Holy Trinity Primary School choirs and a selection of popular tunes by Adamsons Band.

300 years of worship in Gee Cross was the theme for the W.I. well dressing display at Booth’s Well.

“Thank you” to everyone who helped in any way to make the day so successful, and to all the people who attended the event.

Hyde

Previous Year's Events

The Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute, as part of their Millennium Celebrations, undertook to restore and preserve certain old customs and features of Gee Cross village.

Records at Stalybridge Library revealed that ‘well dressing’ celebrations were held regularly in Gee Cross from the 1820’s until round about 1878. The idea to revive these celebrations was welcomed with enthusiasm, particularly as several old wells in Gee Cross were still in existence. The two local primary schools, Dowson and Holy Trinity, were also eager to take part in the celebrations and so Booth’s Well near to the Grapes Hotel was decorated by the Women’s Institute and a further two wells in Joel Lane were decorated by schoolchildren. To add to the occasion, a brass band led the crowds to each well, and Clergy from the surrounding Churches gave blessings. The Band then led the procession of people to Hyde Chapel for a community service.

GEE CROSS COMMUNITY WELL DRESSING – 15TH JULY 2007

The Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute are pleased to report the success of yet another year’s community well dressing celebrations.

The wet weather did not deter the hundreds of people who turned out, complete with macs and umbrellas, to join in the celebrations. Adamsons Band led the crowds to each well display, and finally to Hyde Chapel for the community celebration service.

All

The Hymn “ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL” was chosen as the theme for the Women’s Institute well dressing display at ‘Booths’ well - The Hymn being one of about 400 Hymns written by Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander.

During the service we were well entertained with singing by Dowson Primary and Holy Trinity Primary School choirs, the Alder Community High School singers, and campfire songs by the local Guides, Brownies. Rainbows, Beavers and Cub Groups. Adamsons Band played a variety of popular music and accompanied the singing of Hymns.

“Thank you” to everyone who helped in any way to make the day so successful, and to all the people who braved the weather to attend the event.

Gee Cross Community Well Dressing Celebrations
held on Sunday, 9th July 2006

Mad

Members of the Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute are pleased to report the success of this year’s community well dressing celebrations.

The event attracted hundreds of people who visited each of the 6 well dressing displays. The members and friends of the Women’s Institute created the picture of Alice in Wonderland’s ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party’ (The theme for the picture chosen because of the history of ‘hat making’ in the area during the 1800/1900’s. In Gee Cross several ‘hatting’ buildings/houses still remain, but of course are now mainly private dwellings).

The picture was produced in the traditional method of ‘petaling’ i.e. pressing flower petals and other organic materials into wet clay.

Adamson’s Band led the crowds to each well display, and finally to Hyde Chapel for the community celebration service. During the service we were well entertained with singing by Dowson and Holy Trinity Primary Schools choirs, the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows; music by Alder Community High School Orchestra; and Adamson’s Band.

The Gee Cross & District Women’s Institute wish to congratulate the schools and youth groups for their wonderful ‘well dressing’ displays. We thank each and everyone who has helped in any way to make the day so successful and also the people who attended the event for their support.

We look forward to seeing you all in July next year.

Year 2005 – ‘Peter Pan – 100 years’. The theme for our well dressing picture.

Peter

The theme – Peter Pan – was chosen in celebration of 100 years of the wonderful tales of Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael and their remarkable journey to a magical land – NEVERLAND. The author of Peter Pan books, J.M.Barrie, made a most generous gift of the rights of ‘Peter Pan’ to Great Ormond Street Hospice for Sick Children.

Year 2004 – ‘Werneth Low’ The theme for our well dressing picture.

Werneth

The theme ‘Werneth Low’ was chosen in thankfulness for the blessing of open spaces - where people can find peace and relaxation, and children can safely play. In 1921 the people of Hyde and district raised over £14,000 to purchase Lower Higham Farm and surrounding land “to be kept for ever as an open space” in tribute to the 710 men of this area who perished in the first World War. Hyde’s main war memorial (the Cenotaph) was built and officially opened on the 25th June 1921. The land and farm (now a Visitor Centre) are held in trust by the Hyde War Memorial Trust.

The side panels on the picture show a selection of the flora and fauna to be found in abundance on and around the Low.

What started out originally as a Women’s Institute Millennium celebration has now become an annual community event, organised by the local community.

Year 2003 – ‘Captain Clarke’s Bridge’. The theme for our well dressing picture.

Captain

The Clarke family of Hyde Hall was a well respected family, and responsible for the building of several bridges over both the River Tame and the canal during the 18th Century.

Capt. Hyde John Clarke, an upright and honest man, took a great interest in the colliers and work hands at the mills in the area, and was one of the principal forces for the maintenance of law and order. He was the moving spirit in the erection of St.George’s Church where, in later years, several of his children were interred.

Our picture shows Captain Clarke’s Bridge situated at the bottom of Woodend Lane, Hyde. Tameside Canals Limited renovated this “roving” bridge in conjunction with Tameside MBC Agency as part of the Manpower Services Commission Programme. The bridge was opened by Mr.A.Thompson MBE, of British Waterways Board on the 25th June 1986. Captain Clarke’s “roving” bridge was designed in such a way that a horse pulling a canal boat did not have to be unhitched whilst the boat progressed under the bridge.

The flower designs on the side panels are typical of the “roses and castles” artwork found on traditional canal boats. The brilliant colours and symbols have been the hallmark of working boats on the canals for over a hundred years.

Year 2002 – ‘The Tales of Beatrix Potter’ The theme for our well dressing picture

Beatrix

The theme this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the production of the first of Beatrix Potter’s delightful tales – the Tales of Peter Rabbit. The centrepiece shows Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s garden. “First he ate some lettuces and some French beans, and then he ate some radishes”. The book was produced with coloured pictures as the first of the series of little tales that have now become so popular throughout the world. The side panels of our picture contain characters from other Beatrix Potter tales, including Jemima Puddleduck, Jeremy Fisher, Miss Tiggy Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin. The royalties from her books enabled her to buy Hill Top Farm, and acres of land in the Lake District, which were left to the National Trust on her death in 1943. Beatrix Potter’s parents, grandparents and other family members who originated from Glossop, Stalybridge and Dukinfield are buried in family vaults at Hyde Chapel.

In addition to the Guide Groups, the local Scout Groups were now involved in our event and after another successful year, plans went ahead to include Alder Community High School in the Celebrations for the Year 2003.

Year 2001 - ‘The Green Linnet’ The theme for our well dressing picture.

Green

“The ‘Green Linnet’, as it was affectionately called, was a double-decker tramcar run by the Joint Board of Stalybridge/Hyde/Mossley/Dukinfield Tramways - one of the early forms of public transport in Hyde and Gee Cross between the 1920’s and the end of May 1945 when, in the interests of public safety, tramcars were withdrawn from public service. Many people will also remember the local “bobby” and the lamplighter, also featured in our picture.

Year 2000 – ‘Jerusalem’ The theme for our well dressing picture.

Jerusalem

Blake’s hymn ‘Jerusalem’ is sung at the beginning of each of our monthly meetings, and so it was a natural choice for the theme of our first well dressing picture. We were able to combine the words of the hymn with local scenes, i.e. mountains green, pleasant pastures, clouded hills, England’s green and pleasant land (Werneth Low), and dark satanic mills (Gee Cross Mill).

This reintroduction of Well Dressing celebrations to Gee Cross was a tremendous success and plans were soon being made for it to become an annual event. The local Guide Brownies and Rainbow Groups were also keen to get involved. Sites of other wells (wells no longer in existence) were identified. These sites are now used each year by the Youth Groups.

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