Walking Day is held in high esteem by Warrington people, and many will know of its origin, but for those who do not, briefly the historic background dates back to the early 1880’s.
It is said that early Walking Days were introduced as a counter-attraction to the Old Newton Races, now well-known as Haydock Park Races. The date was arranged to coincide with the last day of the Race Meeting, generally on a Friday and it is only in more recent times that the Walks are held annually on the Friday nearest to the First of July.
Reverend Powys, Rector of Warrington in 1832, was accredited with its introduction and the concept of people walking together as an expression of Christian Witness originated from this.
However, until 1908 the different religious denominations followed a separate route from the Church of England Procession. Although in 1909 the same route was used by all denominations, the non-conformists and Roman Catholics did not assemble in Bank Park, nor take part in a March Past the Town Hall. Eventually, in 1920 all participants in the Procession came together to proclaim a joint acknowledgement of Christianity.
Over the years the numbers of participants have varied and past records indicate that some 10,000 children and adults have taken part in the Procession. Although in recent years there has been a decline in participation, this year’s Procession will be made up of around 4,000 people walking on this special occasion.
At precisely 10.30 am the members of the Parish Church will, by tradition, walk through the beautiful and famous ceremonial gates to begin the procession, followed by other participating Churches from inner Warrington, all proclaiming their Christian faith.
For over 100 years Warrington Walking Day has given an enormous amount of pleasure not only to those actually taking part in the Walks, but also to those who watch along the various routes. It is hoped that it will continue to do so in the years to come.