The Gala started before WW2 and was organised by Shelley Cricket Club. During the war years and after, it was mainly a sporting event with a variety of children’s races on the cricket field throughout the afternoon, and tug of war contests against teams from other villages. In the 1950’s, there were events every day of Gala Week including a whist drive and a dinner dance at the Village Hall. On the day of the main event, contestants and their supporters would walk along Water Lane and enjoy a chapel tea at the Congregation Church, sadly long demolished. The foundation stone now forms part of the boundary wall of the bungalow standing on the site and bears the initials “HD”. It is not believed to be “Harley Davidson”!
The Gala grew into a bigger event in the 1950’s and 1960’s with a procession through the Village. It started off at Kirklea. A band headed the procession followed by the Gala Queen and her attendants in Vintage cars. Children in themed fancy dress followed and then children from various uniformed groups. On one occasion the weather was horrendous and cold. It was decided that for the following year, the Gala should be moved to Shelley First School as it was less exposed to the weather. Lines of bunting crisscrossing Far Bank added to the festive atmosphere until it had to be discontinued early this century due to safety reasons.
As the village grew bigger, more children attended Shelley First School. The playground was increased in size and outside equipment was installed, rendering the space available too small to host the Gala and so it moved back to the Cricket Club.
The weather is always a huge concern to the organisers and to be fair we have been lucky over the years! Although I well remember one year when it rained so hard that we had to relocate to the Village Hall for a drastically trimmed down version. The band was still able to play and refreshments were on offer. Sole traders did a roaring trade. People felt sorry for us and turned up in large numbers, queuing outside under umbrellas to be let in! I have seldom seen so many people in the Village Hall. The humidity within increased dramatically with all the wet clothing and condensation ran down the windows.
Steve Allen, our former village policeman recalls that on one occasion he was given the unenviable task of judging a cake competition. He knew he was on a hiding to nothing! After a long and careful deliberation he announced the winner. The result was received by the contestants in silence and with incredulity!
One year I was with a group of men clad in fancy dress, shorts, tee shirts, wigs and feather boas around our necks. We were assembling in the road at Kirklea, for the start of the procession. It was total mayhem as we jockeyed for position. People everywhere! A Rolls Royce crept through the mass of people towards the junction. One of the men in fancy dress shouted “I wonder who this is”. Another said “it will be one of Malcolm’s mates” Just then the car window was wound down and the Mayor of Kirklees shouted out “Hello Malcolm”. “Told you!” was the reply!
A little bit of History and Memories from Malcolm MacDonald (May 2021)
If anyone has any more information please contact us using the usual methods and we will be happy to add more tales, stories, and history!
The 2021 Shelley Gala will be held (covid permitting) on Sunday 11th July from 13.30 to 16.00 at Shelley Cricket ground. Entry by programme £1, COME IN FANCY DRESS, Children and Adults – your choice!!
We will post more updates as we get them. If you would like to help out , run a stall or just want some more information please contact Adam on 07789 058886
In the meantime please help us build a history of the Gala. We will post updates, stories and photographs as we get them and hopefully build a picture of this (usually) annual Shelley event!! ( see below for some photographs of past Galas and further below for some memories and a little bit of history of the Galas)