FESTIVAL organisers in Bradford are reviving a celebration to remember a forgotten saint.

Historian, poet and showman Glyn Watkins hopes people will help him bring back the tradition of the St Blaise Festival and rediscover the city’s rich past and heritage.

As part of the four-day festival, which starts today, Mr Watkins will dress up as St Blaise who was the patron saint of woolcombers and whose life used to be celebrated by wool workers every February 3 until the last known massive procession in his honour in 1825.

Legend has it the Armenian Bishop was martyred around 315 AD after his skin was scraped off with woolcombs.

“The woolcombs are the Bradford link,” said Mr Watkins.

“We know from records there were more than 1,000 people at the last procession in 1825. It’s not as if Bradford is overstuffed with things to celebrate in February so why not remember St Blaise and bring back the old tradition.”

About six years ago he started retracing some of that procession route on February 3 with a few people tagging along but this year he has teamed up with friends and local businesses Napoleons Casino in Bolton Road and Salamander Brewery in Dudley Hill.

The festival opens today and runs until Sunday with a Bring Back Great Knits Exhibition at Bradford Cathedral, from 9.30am to 5.30pm displaying knitted creations made in the city and local stories with live spinning demonstrations.

Tomorrow, Mr Watkins will be putting on a one-man show at Salamander Brewery in Harry Street all about St Blaise and old Bradford, followed by music and all washed down with specially brewed St Blaise Armenian Ale.

Anyone who wants to recreate the St Blaise procession can join in on Saturday from 10am from the Record Cafe in North Parade.

“There’s only the Cathedral and the Paper Hall that were standing back in 1825 but the idea is to take in the city’s heritage. Bradford isn’t a ruin, there’s plenty to see,” said Mr Watkins.

On Sunday, Bradford Industrial Museum in Eccleshill will host a Bring Back St Blaise Wool Day from 11am to 4pm. As well as a Blaise exhibition there will be working wool machinery, a pop-up bar, demonstrations by the Guild of Spinners and Weavers and performances from Bradford Voices Community Choir and the Hall Royds Band.

“We’ve got plans to make the festival bigger over the next two years as February 3 will fall on a Saturday then a Sunday,” said Mr Watkins.

“We’re going to apply for funding and hope to make it the first in a wool festival season where events like that are really catching on all over the country.”

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