Oldham Historical Research Group

'Oldham Stories'

     'Oldham Stories'
by Mary Dickinson

Empire Day

When I was a young girl Empire Day, 24th May, was a great event in our young lives. I went to St. Mary's school and we always had a big celebration. My mother hadn't a lot of money but she always found us a few pence to buy a small Union Jack for each of us. We took them to school and paraded in a big circle in the school yard. Each of us held a flag and I think every country of the British Empire was represented. We all marched round the yard singing patriotic songs. It was a wonderful sight to see all the different coloured flags waving in the breeze. Some of the children had great big flags, which looked too heavy to carry, I think they only came out on Empire Day.

In the afternoon we had a beautiful tableau on the stage. Britannia was sitting on her throne in the middle of the stage. She wore a brass hat and there was a wheel in front of her. Round her stood girls representing all the countries of the Empire. They wore national costumes and the black people were represented even though we had no black children in our school.

I still get a thrill when I think about it. Now we have lost nearly all our colonies and we are almost alone. I think the last time I saw flags was at the end of the last war when people hung them out of their bedroom windows and decorated the town with them. Let's hope our soldiers didn't die in vain and the British will always be able to wave their flags.

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