St. Alban the Martyr

Street Processions

Street processions were a major tradition in St Alban's parish for many years. Indeed, St Alban's Mission began with a street procession from the mother church of Holy Trinity, Bordesley, to the first temporary church on Leopold Street on September 14th 1865, Holy Cross Day. Here is a description from The Birmingham Daily Post  for 18 September 1865 by a reporter from the who attended the main service on Sunday 17th:

"There were a number of people standing about, who said they were waiting to see a procession. There were about thirty or forty adults in the place, and a number of children. The beadle in a closely-fitting black gown, which reached down to his heels, divided his time between “fixing” the little ones and arranging some banners. After sitting for a few minutes, a boy came in, wearing a cassock and surplice, and, after solemnly bowing before the altar, he lighted the tallest of the candles. Then the sound of singing, outside the building, attracted attention. Crosses and banners flitted by the windows, and then the procession entered the church. First came a boy carrying a crucifix ; several boys – all duly surpliced – followed ; then a boy carrying a banner, on which were the letters “I.H.S;” then more boys ; then a banner, with the figure of the Lamb upon it ; afterwards a large flag, which had upon it the figure of St. Alban himself. Following this came a boy carrying another cross, and behind him walked the Rev. James S. Pollock, M.A., the officiating minister, wearing on his head the priest’s cap, or biretta, and habited in alb and chasuble..."

Processions around the streets of the parish continued, and that on St Alban's Day 1915, celebrating the jubilee of the foundation of the mission, was particularly splendid. Here is a description from contemporary news cutting from an unidentified paper included in an album in the parish archive together with photographs from the same album:

"Heading the long and imposing line came a thurifer and crucifer, with boat boy, torch-bearers, and assistant sacristan, vested in red cassocks and caps and lace cottas, followed by the choir fully robed."

The Head of the Processsion Passing 134-146 Conybere Street

"Next was borne the banner of the Good Shepherd, flanked by red-cassocked attendants, with long files of infants, who were separated from the children of the Little Catechism by the banner of St. George. Behind the banner of St. Columba marched the boys of the Great Catechism, and then came the brass band of the Norton Boys Home. The banner of "Our Lady” was accompanied by the Children of Mary—girls clad in white and bearing lilies—and with the banner walked two torch-bearers, followed by the girls ofthe Great Catechism."

The Children of Mary Passing the Junction of Conybere Street and Upper Highgate Street

"The wards of SS Mary and Katherine and of the Holy Family were preceded by the banner of Emmanuel,"

"and the banner of the Blessed Sacrament was accompanied by torch-bearers and members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament."

"Next came school teachers, the men’s class,members of the congregation, churchwardens carrying their wands of office, and the sidesmen, sisters, and the St. Alban's Troop of Boy Scouts with their band."

"At this stage there walked another thurifer and crucifer, with boat boy and torch-bearers, while immediately preceding the clergy came the banner of Alban with attendants and torch-bearers."

"The priests, all attired in copes and birettas,were attended by cope-bearers and a bodyguard of the Guild of the Holy Cross."

"The priests included the Revs. F. L. Underhill (vicar), Horsford, and Palmer (assistant priests of St. Alban's), Canon Scott (a former vicar), Bernard Scott, Arnold Pinchard (vicar of St. Jude's), de Crespigny Thelwall (vicar of St. Oswald's Small Heath), R. J. Bryant (vicar of St. Anne's, Duddeston), Dencer (St. Aldan's, Small Heath), A. Brown (St. Barnabas, Balsall Heath)."

"The Rev. Beale (assistant priest of St. Alban's) and Mr. H. Lee were marshals of the procession."