Magnificent wagon that made its way through Bacup and why it was there

An impressive purpose-built bow-roofed wagon made its way through the streets of Bacup as part of a Wagon Tales project funded by the Arts Council.

It was one of many events on the Rossendale Art Trail and at the Bacup Centre, children and adults learned circus skills led by Sarah Kershaw and listened to a variety of musicians on Irwell Terrace. The wagon tales were delivered in words and song by Bill Lloyd at the Bacup Library and later on at Irwell Terrace.

The bow-roof wagon was installed on a 90-year-old wagon and pulled by Sundance, a handsome horse owned by retired farrier Joe Cannon who used to live in Bacup.

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Sadie Noble and David Chatton Barker built the wagon and several workshops have been held for children to make and design their own versions of models, some of their designs including unicorns and an alien spaceship being incorporated into the painting.

Artist Mary Stark, one of the founders of Analogue Farm in Whitworth, said: “This whole project is tied to the history of horses in the Valley and there are three key historical links. Walter Lloyd, whose portrait is on the front of the wagon, used to make bow-roofed wagons and has also pulled ponies on the moors above Bacup. He would drive the cars to the Appleby Horse Fair and died in 2018. His son Bill was in the library telling his stories.

“The other portrait is of Ailse O’Fusser (Alice) and she was known for taking coal and lime to the shops on the pack pony route. The third link is the Horse and Bamboo Theatre, which used a horse and cart to take productions across the UK.

Joe said: “Walter was my best friend and it’s good to see his picture on the wagon.” Noel Headley listened to Bill tell stories in the library.

He said: “They were very interesting stories and he is a very good singer. I saw it advertised in a brochure on the art route and this was the only thing that interested me, so I came”.

Many local youths traded scooters and bicycles on Saturday to try their luck at circus skills workshops. Alicia Hall and her four-year-old son Teddy had just visited Baked Cakes when Teddy saw Sundance at Irwell Terrace.

She said: “He saw the horse and wanted to cross and the circus skills have kept him focused.”

Helen Davies had made a banner with a woven poem after working with members of the Arts and Crafts group at the ABD Center and in the library. She said: “The wool is all Lancashire Wool and has been hand dyed. We hope to be able to show it in the city.”

Bacup Cultural Consortium President Esther Ferry-Kennington said: “Wagon Tales and the bow wagon will be featured at other events in the area, including the Waterfoot Wakes and the Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival. He will also be at the second This Here Festival, which will take place in downtown Bacup from June 2-4. Once again, we will be bringing even more new and interesting free activities and workshops that people would not normally see or participate in.”


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