Clifton Traditions

The bizarrely-named Faffen-Fuffen Fair was a communal event held in Clifton at various points in the last century, usually in early September, dating back to the 1930s. The Clifton Prize Band would march through the town playing their usual brass alongside a variety of home-made instruments such as a comb-and-paper and papier-mache constructions, whilst children and decorated floats would parade behind them. It is thought the practice was initiated either to celebrate the local miners or to raise spirits during the Depression. The original fair ceased after 1953 but it was revived from 1977 until 1996 when it died out due to lack of participation. It has been held only once again since in 2002 to mark the Golden Jubilee.

An integral part of the fair involved the band marching past a pig placed atop a wall, although the reasons given for the origin of this tradition differ. One account in the Ilkley Gazette dated 4th February 2002 claims it was because the the Clifton Prize Band used to rehearse in a granary behind which was a farm and the farmer there would sit the animal on the wall to listen. Meanwhile, an account from the Brighouse Echo dated 9th September 1994 claims it originated when the cacophony from one of the early fairs startled a pig which leapt over the wall into their midst. In later years, the pig had been replaced by a man in costume due to the modern requirement for a license in order to move livestock.

A more sinister but equally raucous Clifton tradition from the 19th Century is recalled by a long-term resident in a Brighouse Echo article dated 15th June 1962. It involved the construction of a straw effigy in a barn on Highmoor Lane, which would paraded around the town to the din of beaten pots and pans, before being burned in front of the house of any woman believed to be cuckolding her husband. This custom is a variation on a once widespread north country practice called “riding the stang” or “rough music”. In certain areas and in earlier ages, it was far more brutal. In Scotland, for instance, it was not an effigy which was paraded around the streets but the unfaithful spouse themselves forcibly set astride a rough tree cutting.

Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 22:31  Leave a Comment  
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