Haworth 1940s Weekend: Residents of Yorkshire village demand council intervene to manage 'pop-up' new event after cancellation of wartime festival

Residents of Haworth have asked that Bradford Council help to manage a smaller version of the village’s popular 1940s Weekend that is being held by local business owners.

The new, small-scale event will take place on May 18-19, traditionally the weekend when the Haworth 1940s Weekend was held for more than 30 years before the organising committee stood down in 2023.

Centred around the Black Bull public house’s car park, which will host stalls, live wartime music and a display of military vehicles, the alternative gathering has been arranged by local businesses after the cancellation of the official 2024 event.

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The long-serving volunteers gave up their roles following a review by the council and West Yorkshire Police which covered issues that arose during the 2023 festival, which attracted complaints about rowdy behaviour and poor crowd and traffic management. It was recommended by the panel that fewer alcohol licences be granted to vendors at future events.

Land Girls at the Haworth 1940s WeekendLand Girls at the Haworth 1940s Weekend
Land Girls at the Haworth 1940s Weekend

Instead, it was announced earlier this year that local couple Matthew and Jamila Ware had taken over responsibility for running the official weekend, but would not hold it again until 2025, leaving Haworth without a 1940s gathering this spring.

Although the past organisers have stated that they are not responsible for the event this month, they have promoted it on the original weekend’s Facebook page, which has around 5,000 followers, some of whom commented that they were confused about whether the festival was going ahead in its usual form.

Information posted on the page includes details of a gathering to ‘keep the 1940s alive’, with appearances by the North West 101st Airborne and Haworth Home Guard re-enactment groups and performances by singers Paul, Natasha and Melissa Harper.

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Businesses along Main Street, including vintage tearoom Forteas, also confirmed that they would be staging entertainment for visitors and decorating their premises.

Yet the Haworth Residents Association has raised concerns that the ad-hoc event may end up larger in scale than intended, and have asked the council for reassurances over traffic restrictions.

A spokesperson for the group said: “This new event has been publicised on local and national Facebook groups which are popular with fans of the 1940s and wartime re-enactors, many of which have thousands of members. Their response has been very positive, with many people saying that they intend to come to Haworth for this new event.

"The event is described as ‘businesses doing their own thing’ but it is clear from social media posts that it is instigated by the former organisers, who refer to the landlords of the Black Bull pub as the providers of their car park for stalls, music, entertainment and displays of military vehicles.

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“As far as the HRA are aware, no permissions have been sought by the organisers.

"There are no traffic management plans in place; we are aware of at least one coach bringing eventgoers to Haworth on the 18th. Given the layout of Haworth Main Street, which has four pubs and several bars, cafes and restaurants, it is very likely that they will spill out onto the narrow street with their drinks. No road closure has been applied for, as far as we know.

“We represent a large number of residents and businesses, including some hospitality venues, who are deeply concerned by the implications of this event, and we want assurance that the safety and peace of all concerned is preserved.”

Bradford Council did not respond to a request to comment on their involvement in this month’s event.

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The post-event review by the council and West Yorkshire Police last year recommended that fewer alcohol licences were granted to vendors and that stalls were kept away from homes following by complaints by residents of drunken and rowdy behaviour by attendees of the festival.

The Wares hope that their new event, which will be run by a Community Interest Company, will expand to include nearby Oxenhope next year.

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