Back to the 70s as Rose Queen Festival hits 40th anniversary

Whaley Bridge’s big summer event, the Rose Queen Festival, celebrates its 40th anniversary on Saturday 27 June. Organisers, looking back to 1975 when the festival was first taken over by a village committee to launch the new era, want people to celebrate the vivid spirit of the 70s  pop, fashions, extraordinary stories, the start of modern sports heroes.

Tim Mourne, who was re-elected as chairman at the recent annual general meeting, said: “We can see some wonderful entries in the parade this summer, inspired by the 70s. Think of all the pop stars and fashions. We are working on the idea of a 70s disco some time on carnival day. We are also inviting former royalty from those early years to get in touch, and tell us their stories and memories.”

The patchy history of the Rose Queen goes back to 1914, just before the start of World War I. There were no festivals in the war years, and records are sparse during the 1920s. The festival was run by different organisations, at one time the British Legion and then for a number of years members of St James’s church, Taxal.

Tony Mackey was first chairman of the new committee set up in 1975, which made it an event covering all of Whaley Bridge. Forty years later, he is president of the committee. His daughter Angela was the Rose Queen in 1976.

Angela remembers her big day when she was 12, one of the younger queens from the High Peak: “There were lots of mums and dads involved. My mum made my dress. The queen had her retinue, and the rosebud had one as well, so we made quite a picture.


Rose queen of 1976 Angela with husband Joe and family pet


Rose queen in 1976, Angela, centre, with Rosebud and retinues

“Our float, a Ken Fab lorry, was often judged the best as we went to other carnivals. I remember it had lovely trellis work, all hand made by volunteers,
and lots of paper flowers. They were made of crepe paper, so were easily damaged in rain. Now people make them from plastic!”

Angela urges youngsters to come forward to be the royalty of 2015: “It’s a nice thing to do, supporting the town, and it can be a lot of fun.”

Angela’s husband Joe (real name Jose Santos Rosa) is a key member of the Rose Queen committee, and as chief marshall.on carnival day can be seen on his quad bike buzzing up and down the gathering parade.

Joe came to England from Portugal at the age of seven. His dad came ahead of the family, and was at one time licensee of the Bull’s Head in Castleton. Joe went to school in New Mills. He and Angela both work at Federal Mogul in Chapel en le Frith. They were married in 1992.


Girls and boys from age four to 16 can become a member of the carnival ˜royal family”. All it entails is
• taking part in the carnival day parade on Saturday 27 June
• attending church and the Welldressing blessing on the Sunday
• being at the pet show on Wednesday1 July
• representing the Rose Queen at the Remembrance Day service in November
Mums and dads wanting more information can contact Tim Mourne on or 01663 734 930.
Tim would also like to hear from royalty over the last 40 years with their stories and pictures. All are invited to meet the committee in the Whaley Bridge Bowling Club at 7pm on Tuesday 17 March.

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