Gee Cross keeps well tradition going

LOCKDOWN may have meant it could not be done as it had been but a tradition was kept alive in Gee Cross.

Since the year 2000, the art of well dressing – which dated back in the area about 150 years – has been on the calendar.The Covid-19 pandemic meant many of the sites, done by schools, Girl Guides, Brownies and Scouts, were not resplendent with the intricate artwork made up of carefully laid flower petals.

But members of the Gee Cross and District branch of the Women’s Institute were not put off and still managed to get a design at Booth’s Well.

It may not have been made up of flowers but the artwork designed to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth in Devon to Plymouth in Massachusetts, America provided just as good a focal point.

Margaret Gradwell, one of the WI members who co-ordinated a ‘virtual’ exhibition by posting pictures from previous years on social media, said: “We actually started in January by coming up with ideas – and I was happy that the Mayflower was picked as I was born in Plymouth.

“But we saw what was coming and decided in early March that we would not be able to do a well dressing. A lot of the ladies who do it would have to be shielded.

“And the schools and groups like Girl Guides and Cubs weren’t able to get together to work on their designs.

“In all, there is about half a dozen sites around Gee Cross which have well dressings. Since it was brought back in the year 2000 it’s been very popular.

“However, we came up with a plan to make sure there was a design at Booth’s Well, which was also restored in 2000. So Dorothy Charlton, who does the drawings that get turned into well dressings, drew the artwork and we decided to put that in.

“The reception for it was brilliant and we’re so glad we did it.

“I decided to keep people updated by posting pictures up online as if they were happening at the time. That worked brilliantly too.”

The display, which stood close to the Grapes pub on Stockport Road, was in place officially until July 12.

But just having it there provided some welcome smiles to all involved, even if it did not mean the WI’s hard work, which normally takes place at Hyde Chapel.

Margaret, 69, added: “It’s one of the main events among the Gee Cross community but it’s very hard work actually doing a well dressing.

“It could easily have been left this year because of everything that’s gone on but we felt it would be better to keep the tradition going.”

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