Monday, January 9, 2012

Queen for the season

Co-operative Rose Queen c.1920's
Writing about a Rose Queen or in this case something similar a Co-operative Queen was not predicted. But it is surprising what turns up in the email inbox. A low-fi scan of a document called "Memories (are made of these)" from a fellow local historian Bernard Leach. He knows I like anything co-op related. A week or so later I spotted a well researched new exhibit at the People's History Museum featuring a dress and trimmings from a Co-operative Queen from the 1920's. So good was the dress that it was saved, re-styled and used as the wedding dress. Re-vamping clothes was a normal practice - as in the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell (1851) for example dramatised for Tv.

You immediately get its cultural significance. Now back to the document, it has a clear handwritten page from someone, Miss M. Dale who was such a local co-operative queen in 1937.

"At the age of 14 I was chosen to be the Co-operative Queen for one year. My mother was a member of Chorlton Womens Guild and had entered my name for this. Much to her delight and my astonishment, I was selected, and my Maids of Honour and Page Boys were also chosen. My crowning took place in Chorlton Park and there were bands and many Morris Dancers and side stalls. I made the journey in a Landau pulled by horses which apparently had been used by royalty when visiting Manchester on some earlier occasion. During that summer I went out each Saturday to attend fetes held by the Co-operative movement in different parks around Manchester - always travelling in the Landau. On one occasion we went across the City and everyone stopped and to stare and to presume, wondered who I was."

The story was published by a community group who used to meet in Barlow Moor Library on a Thursday 1000-1145, but the date is unknown. Guessing at the 1980's. Like the use of the word landau, originally a four wheel carriage from Landau in Bavaria though that etymology is disputed. The point is there used to be lots of words for all the different types of carts and carriages pulled by horses and other animals.

Co-op Queens were a good promotion and propaganda for the various co-operatives and fitted in with the tradition of pageants and ceremonies in parks and village greens.

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