Film ID:
YFA 2548



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This film is part of a collection of films which chronicle the 'May Queen' celebrations that took place annually at Birdwell Primary school in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. It was filmed by the school Headmaster and captured the tradition of the crowning of the Queen as well as the performances put on by the children.

Title-Birdwell Primary School Queen crowning 1961

Shot of the school building.

Title-Procession of retiring Queen Susan Clarke.

Procession of children, the previous Queen and her hand maidens.

Title-Crowning of retiring Queen.

Title-Procession of New Queen Gillian Swift

View from a height looking down, a group of young boys in green shorts and white tee-shirts carry out an exercise drill with hula-hoops. They copy what the leader does from the stand at the top. They all bow to the queen one by one, then her ladies in waiting and some other members of her `court'.

Title-The Crowning, Mrs Ashton.

The teacher crowns the Queen and is given flowers by an older girl.

Title-Some of the audience.

There is a long panning shot of audience, then a shot of a man making a speech and more shots of the audience.

Title-Come to the fair.

All the children line up in the yard, then lots of them dance around the Maypole. Other groups of children run out into the yard, some in costume, some skipping. They start to play games, put on performances, do routines with balls, do dancing, small children dressed as boats dance, a band come out and play. Then the entire school do a variety of dances around the May pole.


The procession leaves the yard and then there are shots of the teachers taking down the decorations and dismantling the stage.

Title-Filmed and edited by Ron Beardshall.

Title-The End.

Title-1962 Birdwell Primary School Queen Crowning

Title-Procession of Retiring Queen Gillian Swift.

The school children walk in pairs under hoops which are covered with flowers.

Title-Procession of new Queen, Christine Ramsden.

The new Queen is crowned by the teacher and she receives flowers and then makes a speech; this is followed by shots of the audience taken from near the stage.

The children come out into the yard in a variety of costumes and dance around the Maypole. Some of the children are dressed as cowboys and Indians and put on a performance where they chase each other around the Maypole and re-enact a story from the Wild West. Following this they play ball games and pretend to be bears with costumes and masks. Some of the girls are dressed in dresses and blouses and have red cheeks; they move their arms and legs rigidly and pretend to be dolls; some of the boys are dressed as pirates and have boots, scarves and beards. There is a brief shot of some girls dressed up in black cardboard with white dots; they are dominoes and are re-arranged by another girl and eventually fall over. Finally there is a performance where the children are dressed as African and Chinese people and characters from Noddy in Toy Town.

In the next scene is the procession of the Queen and her attendants as they leave the stage. There are shots of some of adults with their children and then shots as all of the children file out of the yard.

Title-The End.

Title-Birdwell School Queen Crowning 1963.

This section opens with shots of the procession of the retiring Queen Christine Ramsden.

This procession is carried out in the same, traditional way as the previous years. The previous Queen and her attendants file into the yard. Her hand maidens walk ahead of her and her foot men walk behind her. They all make their way up to the stage where one of the boys takes her crown off and replaces it with a smaller one.

Title-Sailors March.

A group of children file into the yard wearing black and white striped sailor costumes and march around in formation.

Title-Procession of New Queen Ann Milner.

The new Queen walks up to the stage and waits at the steps. Her hand maidens and foot men walk up in small groups and bow to her.

Title-Crowning by Mrs C W Boland.

The teacher crowns the new Queen, makes a speech and gets flowers from one of the older girls. Then there are panning shots of the audience.

Title-The Seasons.


The performance starts with children who come out dressed as farmers and scarecrows and then as a female farmer with chicks following her. Some other children are dressed as mice with a cat following them, ducks, a frog, a pig and cows.


A group of children are dressed in colourful clothes and carrying beach balls, chairs and bags and they pretend to go to the beach. The `beach' scene is complete with a Punch and Judy show. They set things up and some of them play ball; one of the children leads a group of children who are dressed as donkeys.


The children are dressed as leaves and run around in a circle. The next shots are of some boys fight over wood for a bonfire and re-enacting a Guy Fawkes Night, while the next group of girls are dressed up as witches and walk around their cauldron to depict Hallowe'en.


A few girls dressed as snow dance around, then children in holly and ice costumes dance around the area in front of the stage. The final scene consists of Christmas carollers and then Santa being pulled along in his sleigh by children dressed up as reindeer.


There is a procession with the new Queen and her attendants filing off the stage and out of the yard and then all of the children in costumes leave through the middle of the audience.

Title-Birdwell Primary School Queen Crowning.


Title-Procession of retiring Queen.

Title-Ann Milner.

The retiring Queen walks up to the stage with her attendants.

Title-Guard of Honour.

Some of the children dressed in formal attendant attire walk into the performance area.

Title-Procession of new Queen.

Title-Christine Chapman.

The new Queen follows her hand maidens up to the stage where she stops and lets all of her attendants bow before her.

Title-Crowning of Queen by Miss Julia Berry.

The teacher crowns the new Queen, makes a speech and receives a bunch of flowers.

Title-This is you folks.

The camera takes a long, panning shot of the audience; there is a brief shot of the Mayor and Mayoress standing up in the middle of the audience and smiling for the camera.

Title-Song and Dance time.

In this play the children are re-enacting the `Itsy Bitsy Spider' rhyme and as some of the children are dressed up in bubbly blue rain costumes, some girls walk about with umbrellas. One of the children is dressed in black and has two extra leg attachments and crawls along the ground like a spider. Then the sunshine comes out, completing the rhyme.

One of the final scenes is a play about Native American Indians and white explorers. The Indians bring out a totem pole and place it in the yard and another group of them have a `dead animal' tied to a stick.; they make some white hunters walk ahead of them to show that they have been captured. Then they tie the hunters up and run around.

Some children are dressed as theatre nurses and surgeons and they wheel a patient out into the yard and pretend to carry out an operation on him; he jumps up and runs away. Finally there is a sequence of performances with children dressed as many characters including shooting targets, ladies and gentlemen, pirates on a ship dancing and singing, rats from that ship.