FRIDAY should have been the return of one of the most important days in the town’s annual calendar – Warrington Walking Day.

But this year’s event has been cancelled for one of the first times in history due to the coronavirus pandemic

So to make the occasion and make up for the shortage, we have looked back in our archives to some of the best moments of walking days from time gone by.

The history of walking day dates back to the 19th century.

It started in the 1830s when the church set it up as a riposte to the debauchery of the Newton races.

Many people would head to Haydock for drinking and revelry so a walk of witness was suggested.

1897 saw a special Jubilee Walking Day to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

Some 14,000 children took part and the procession passed the Town Hall steps where each child aged three to 14 received a three penny piece from the Mayor.

St James’s Sunday School from Latchford adopted a patriotic theme.

Their procession included a model warship!

The Warrington Guardian reported that ‘a number of lads dressed as sailors drew a model of an ironclad while two lads in front carried a banner containing Nelson’s last signal to the fleet. 

As they passed the Town Hall steps they were cheered by onlookers’.

By then it had become an annual festival and a day’s holiday for all Warrington’s young people, but it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that Walking Day as we now know it had evolved.

This was when all participants from all churches walked together, although still not from the same starting point. The first time all three groups had walked together was for Walking Day in 1902, the Coronation year of Edward VII, but this unity was short lived.

Warrington Walking Day has taken place every year since it began, except one year when rain forced a late cancellation in the early 1940s during the Second World War. After the war ended in 1945, about 10,000 children and adults joined the walk to celebrate peace.

It was not until the 1990s that everyone walked exactly the same route, to come together after the explosion of the IRA bomb in Bridge Street in Warrington town centre in 1993.