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Calder High Pace Egg Play

From John Billingsley

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Anyone who saw the performances last year of the Pace-Egg Play usually supported by Calder High School will be aware that the players suffered from a lack of props, costume and cast, as a result, I was told, of the school not supporting them. According to the Courier and HB Times of the 23 & 24 March this year, this lack of support continues and the survival of this older version of the local mumming tradition is in doubt. The newspapers quoted Nina Akeds as hoping local people would step in to help, but true to form they omitted the important detail of someone to contact.

This custom is one of England's strongest traditions and deserves local respect, and it would be good if the school upheld the community custodianship they took on years ago; however, they have not yet seen fit to respond to my enquiry. Does anyone know how plans are going for the April 14 performances?

From Gary W

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

During my years at Calder High School, I was lucky enough to take part in the Pace Egg play for several years (during the 1980s). It's an important and unique local tradition linking us to directly to times in the long and distant past.

In 1960-61, Peter Boocock produced a 26 minute long colour film (showing how different Hebden Bridge was back then) and he incorporated the Pace Egg plays performed that year by the students of Calder High.  

Watch it here.

It's very important to keep these local traditions alive and to give today's youngsters the same opportunities that previous generations had. 

From Nina Aked

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

 Hi, I set up a page on Facebook last year and tried repeatedly to contact the school. A drama teacher did contact me but had no idea what it was.

I have spoken to Vanessa Kay, mother of a former Calder High student, James Kay who had stepped in to play the The Doctor last year despite being at University. The Full history of The Midgely Pace Egg, including some footage and amazing photos are  on the Facebook page.

Several parents have stepped in with offers to make /repair props, however the iconic hats are missing and funding has not been available to replace them.

I have spoken to Calderdale and there are funds available for costume and props for next financial year, though nothing for this year. 

This tradition has belonged to the Calder Valley since the 18th Century. it has been performed by Calder High for the last 50 years. It would be a great shame if this year we had a swansong performance. 

Meanwhile if anyone has a bugle and a doctors' case, at least some of the props can be replaced.

I hope the event is well supported by the community and this encourages Calder High to support the tradition.

From John Billingsley

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Good to hear the update, Nina, and your input and link, Gary. I'll be at some of the performances, I think, most likely the Holme St one, and perhaps we can set up a line of communication to the wider community and local history groups.

Might be worth mentioning Eddie Cass' book, 'The Pace-Egg Plays of the Calder Valley' (FLS Books, 2004), pretty much the definitive work on the tradition. Available in the Bookcase or from the Folklore Society.

See also

HebWeb News: Midgely Pace Egg Play
(Received after this thread was started - ed)

HebWeb News: Heptonstall 2017 Pace Egg Play

Hebweb Feature: Pace Egg Play