APART from IRONMAN UK, it’s rare to see Victoria Square packed with some many people as shown in the photograph.

Taken in May 1937, the event was Bolton’s annual Catholic Procession.

Those were the days when religion seemed to mean a lot more to people and was an important part of their lives.

Each of the borough’s ten parishes took part, mainly led by child members of each congregation. Again, it was a time when youngsters were actively involved in the life of their church in great numbers.

With tableaux, floral displays and colourful banners aplenty, the processions were usually a spectacular sight.

However, bad weather meant the 1937 procession was not up there with the amazing spectacles of previous years.

Despite this meaning the young procession queen and her retinue had to be sheltered from the heavy rain by umbrellas, the crowds turned out in force. And there were 20 bands taking part, something that’s a rare sight these days.

The honour of leading the procession fell to the newly-formed parish of St William’s, youngest daughter of SS Peter and Paul’s.

The reporter at the time wrote: “They had no queen, but there was much to admire in the smart appearance of the schoolgirls in their blue gym slips, red berets and belts.”

St Columba’s, another new parish walking for the first time, had a charming queen in Miss Frances Martindale, and following them came St Ethelbert’s, whose queen, Miss Mary Dobson, was described as “another dainty little figure”.

The procession began from Victoria Square and the signal to get ready was given by a Mr J.V. Smith, who climbed on to one of the Town hall lions and, kneeling on its back, led the singing of Faith of our Fathers.

A rousing National Anthem was then sung before the altar boys of St Columba’s led the way into Cheapside, processional cross proudly borne aloft, and the walk began.

Such was the scale, that in Farnworth alone, the main thoroughfare of Market Street, Longcauseway, and Albert Road were occupied for more than two hours by more than 6,000 processionists - staggering when you think about it!