Bring Back Blaise Festival 1st Event. Combing out the Blaise Story.

19 Jan


Glyn Watkins tells the strange tale of Bishop Blaise, wool combing and Bradford. With pictures. 19.00. 31st Jan. Meeting Room 3 Bradford City Hall.Free but donations taken.

Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company launch declared Tops.

9 Jan

The launch of a Company aiming to encourage involvement of people with the history of Bradford and the wool trade has been declared a splendidly woven event by the organisers and audience

The Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company was launched in Bradford City Hall on Thursday, and has been created by Bradford based poet Glyn Watkins; Landlord of the Jacobs Well pub Dan Horsman; and Leeds based educator and art director Julia Armstrong. It grew out of Glyn’s attempt to revive the celebration of Bishop Blaise, Patron Saint of Woolcombers, in Bradford.

A packed audience heard how the Bring Back Blaise Festival had grown from a walk with a few people to having Bradford’s first wool fair at the Industrial Museum; and how the Company intends to weave the festival into a City wide, internationally linked event on St. Blaise’s Day, 3rd February, 2025. The 200th anniversary of the last time Bradford celebrated Bishop Blaise in a big way.

The positive audience reaction showed that wool and Bradford history still has a place in the hearts of many locals. From people with decades in the wool trade to people who had just moved to Bradford, everyone in the audience expressed appreciation for the attempt to make Saint Blaise’s day a day that anyone can enjoy.

This years Bring Back Blaise Festival runs from Friday 31st January to Monday 3rd February. Events included a talk about Bishop Blaise and wool combing at City Hall, 19.00. 31st Jan. and The Blaise Wool Fair at Bradford Industrial Museum Sunday 2nd Feb.


Picture: Julia Armstrong, Dan Horsman and Glyn Watkins directing their attentions to photographer Joe Ogden

Launch of the Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company 19.00. Thurs 9th Jan. at Bradford City Hall

5 Jan

Invitation to the Launch of Bradford Woolly Heritage C.I.C

Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company aims to support the Blaise Festival & other events and encourage an interest in and engagement with the history & culture of Bradford and/or al aspects of wool.

19.00. Thursday 9th Jan. Meeting Room 5 Bradford City Hall.

Entrance on Channing Way. Ring bell to enter. Meeting will be an hour or less. Refreshments at Jacobs Well afterwards.


Bradford Woolly Heritage, set up by Bradford based poet and showman Glyn Watkins; local landlord Dan Horsman, (Jacobs Well) and educator Julia Armstrong (Greyswood Art + Design)

intends to inform and entertain the people of Bradford about the rich and important history of the wool trade in Bradford.

Our first event is the 2020 Bring Back Blaise Festival, from Friday 31st Jan. to Monday 3rd Feb.

The festival was initially started by Glyn over a decade ago as an attempt to help Bradford to recognise the importance of Bishop Blaise, the Patron Saint of Woolcombers. All wool towns used to celebrate his day on 3rd February, but Bradford’s was the biggest and best. Unfortunately the last one was in 1825! The Blaise Wool Fair will be the held at the Bradford Industrial Museum. and will include stalls, music and much more.

Bradford Woolly Heritage will aim to build the celebration of St Blaise to a point where it becomes a community generated, city wide celebration of Bradford, it’s people, and wool culminating in a programme of events in 2025; the 200th anniversary of the last big Bishop Blaise Festival, and the year of the Bradford Bid.

To grow the Bishop Blaise celebration and other events and activities we need support. If you are interested in helping, or just want to find out more, please come along to the meeting. We are interested in connecting with people and organisations with an interest in local history, textiles and the wool industry and any local community groups to explore how we can work together. The meeting will be an hour or less and you are invited to join us at Jacobs Well afterwards


Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company is registered.

11 Dec


Myself, Dan the landlord of the Jacobs Well and old friend Julia have created this company to help nurture the growth of the Blaise Festival; support other events; and encourage an interest in, and engagement with, the history, culture, economy and future of the city of Bradford and/or all aspects of the wool trade. The ultimate aim is to have a major, city wide and international linked, celebration of Bishop Blaise’s Day on the 2025, the 200th anniversary of the last time Bradford properly celebrated him.

This is to be done initially by adding to  the revival a wool festival in Bradford named after Bishop Blaise, Patron Saint of Woolcombers, around his Saint’s day on 3rd February of each year. Something Bradford last properly celebrated in 1825. This is presently focused at The Bradford Industrial Museum, which has already benefited from increased visitor numbers due to past work.

Dates already confirmed; please check this page for updates.

Thursday 9th January. City Hall. A meeting to launch of the company, for people interested in what we are doing, and especially anyone who might want to help and support us; or who are already involved promoting Bradford or wool.

Friday 31st January. City Hall. A Brief Blaise History. Glyn Watkins presents a show about Saint Blaise and Bradford.

Sunday 2nd February. The Blaise Wool Festival at Bradford Industrial Museum from 11.00 to 16.00. This will be the third Blaise wool festival at the Museum. There will be more stalls; Hall Royd Brass Band and Bradford Community Choir will be performing again; there will be demonstrations of spinning, wean and other skills; and The Lord Mayor of Bradford will be presented with an address by Bishop Blaise, in the form of Glyn Watkins.

There may be a walk on Saturday 1st Feb. and something to mark Saint Blaise actual day on Monday 3rd Feb.

Anyone organising almost any event over the first weekend of February can be part of the Bring Back Blaise Festival 2020 in exchange for advertising it. It will be low key but may grow big over the next few years.

We will be seeking support and sponsorship.


The Bring Back Blaise Festival 2020 is on.

17 Nov

The 3rd Blaise Wool Festival at Bradford Industrial Museum is confirmed for 2nd Feb. More details of that and other events will follow.



Front page news for the Blaise Wool Festival 2017.


Pie & Priestley at Jacobs Well a steaming success including an upper crust steaming pie! Owner Dan Horsman, showman Glyn Watkins and chef Chris Hall

15 Sep


A pie night to celebrate J.B.Priestley’s birthday and a meat and potato pie that defied Hitler at the Jacobs Well pub in Bradford has been declared a steaming success. 

Pie and Priestley is an annual event run by Bradford based poet and showman Glyn Watkins on the 13th September; who did two sets of illustrated readings to appreciative audiences who witnessed the recreation of a steaming pie that was once world famous, and who afterwards feasted on pie and pies baked in the Jacobs newly refurbished kitchen. 

The idea for the event occurred to Glyn over 20 years ago and came from a BBC radio broadcast Priestley made after returning home to Bradford to see the damage a German bombing raid had caused. He had been told that a pie shop that always had a gigantic steaming pie in the window had been destroyed, but to his joy it had survived to steam defiance at ‘…Hitler, Goering and the whole gang off them. It was glorious.’ That made the pie the most famous one in the world.

The shop was owned by a Mr Roberts and once stood on Godwin Street, roughly where the entrance to the Kirkgate Centre carpark is. After his death his widow reportedly offered the pie to Bradford’s Museum service, but they refused to take it, so it was thrown away! 

Glyn usually advertised his events by walking around with a big pie, but this year he managed to make the pie even more upper crust. He read the original broadcast and at the last line:

‘… a pie that steamed for forty-five years and successfully defied an air-raid to steam again has its own proper place.’

He drew back a cloth and revealed his pie steaming away like mad! Like Mr Roberts he refused to reveal the secret, but did say that it was thanks to equipment he had bought from the Kirkgate Market, only a short distance from where the original pie had steamed.

The event was also the first test a future ‘Pie of the Month’ offer. Jacobs’ chef Chris Hall created meat and potato and vegetarian butter pies which were so good at least one member of the audience had a second pie! 

Jacobs’ owner Dan Horsman declared himself well pleased with the success of the event and has already started planning a Pie of the month offer’ and next year’s Pie & Priestley Night’ with Glyn.  

Pie & Priestley a steaming success.

14 Sep

Dan of Jacobs Well happy because I helped him sell beer and pies, me happy because I managed 2 good shows and made my pie steam, and Chris Hall with one of his brilliant pies.

About Glyn Watkins, Bradford based poet and showman, in Bradford Review 43

3 Sep


Read the whole magazine via this link

Rough transcript of the contents of the Glyn Watkins article below

Many places in the world have special things that mark the changing of the seasons. Japan has cherry blossom marking the beginning of Spring and England has shops starting to sell Christmas stuff marking the ending of Summer.

Bradford seems to have developed it’s own peculiar signs of early spring and passing summer in the shape of a oddly dressed bloke who appears on the streets as a fluorescent bishop in January, and carrying a foot wide pie any time from June.

He also appears dressed as a mad hatter to advertise ‘Hat Throwing’ competitions he has invented.

The man is Glyn Watkins, Bradford based, self proclaimed, ‘poet, writer and showman’. 

This year Glyn is wearing his top hat to advertise the Yorkshire Hat Throwing Championship at Bowling Hall Museum, Bradford; part of a full day of events celebrating Yorkshire Day, Thursday 1st August, from 11.00. 

The competition involve landing a hat on a target, so is a measure of skill and hand eye coordination, rather than strength, and is suitable for all ages. T.I.F.F.T.H.A rules (Transnational Institute of Formally Thrown Hat Associations) say that all hats must be safe to throw, that no metal is allowed, and that neither hat abuse or hat fighting will be tolerated.

The Museum is free to enter and the Hat Throwing entry is by donation.

The fluorescent Bishop is part of Glyn’s remarkably successful campaign to get Bradford celebrating Bishop Blaise, the Patron Saint of Woolcombers, after a near 200 year gap. The Saint’s Day is on the 3rd February, and this year saw the Bradford Industrial Museum had a record February attendance figure for Bradford’s first wool festival; a festival both Glyn and the Museum have committed to repeat next year on the first Sunday in February.

The pie is baked by Glyn has his website in the crust (making it his iPie) and is to draw attention to his celebration of J.B.Priestely’s birthday on the 13th September, and: ‘a meat and potato pie that defied Hitler!’ 

That pie was made famous by a BBC Radio broadcast Bradford born Priestley made in September 1940, part of a series called ‘Postscripts’. Bradford had been bombed and while nobody was hurt, Priestley had been told that a pie shop that used to have a massive pie in the window that had steam coming out of the top had been destroyed.

Priestley came home to see the damage, and perhaps stand in the ruins of the shop to  “…catch perhaps a last faint lingering whiff of that steam…”. But to his joy the pie was damaged but the pie was still there “Every puff and jet of that steam defied Hitler, Goering, and the whole gang of them. It was glorious.”

So for 20 odd years Glyn has been doing shows on 13th September where people listen to him reading Priestley, look at pictures he project, and eat meat and potato pie (or vegetarian alternative) and peas.

This year the celebration is at the Jacobs Well public house on Kent Street in central Bradford. He will be doing two shows. One at 16.00 and another at 19.00. It is free entry, but pies will have to be paid for. There will be a choice of home made meat and potato or a vegetarian butter pie (potato and butter in a pie!). This event will also be the launch of Jacobs as a pie provider, which intends introducing a Pie of the Month feature.

Check Glyn’s show page at for details, or find @hatthrowing on instagram.

Pie & Priestley 2019

5 Aug

Free shows of illustrated J.B.Priestley readings at Jacobs Well, Bradford, but to be sure of pie you  need to book. £5 for pie (Meat & Potato or Butter) and peas and a pint of Bright Day Bitter or soft drink. Tickets from Jacobs Well, or Eventbright (with processing fee). Eventbrite link below.

Eventbrite page to buy advanced pie and drink for £5 (plus Eventbrite fee)

There will be 2 free shows off around an hour at 16.00 and 19.00. Pies will be served before and after.

Pie&Priestley2019 posterS

Glyn Watkins presents his annual Pie & Priestley Night

J.B.Priestley Pie & Proud of Bradford.

Jacobs Well 

Kent St, BD1 5SH

To celebrate J.B.Priestley’s birthday Glyn will be doing illustrated readings, including the wartime broadcast about the Bradford meat and potato pie that defied Hitler.

At 16.00 and 19.00.  Fri 13th Sept. 2019.

Also the launch of Jacobs’ Pie of the Month. Meat & potato (or Butter) pub made pie & peas. Show is free, pies aren’t.  You can pre book pie and pint (or non alcoholic alternative) for £5 at Jacobs. Sorry, but licence means no children.

Tickets fromJacobs Well or Eventbright (search Pie & Priestley).

See for details, 



Transcript of interview of me on BBC Radio Leeds, by Gayle Lofthouse, 07.20, Thursday 1st August

5 Aug

Below is my transcript of an interview with Gayle Lofthouse (sitting in for Richard Stead) on BBC Radio Leeds, at 07.20 Thursday 1st August.

You can listen to it for about 3 weeks if you go to

You have to register with the BBC, then I am 1 hour 24 minutes in.

I’ve taken out most of my eh, um’s and arrh’s. If I’ve cut dialogue I’ve put (cut)

Gayle had been talking about jelly babies.


Gayle: …we going hear about something that’s going to be happening at Bolling Hall a little bit later on today. The Yorkshire Hat Throwing Championship get underway, I think, at 11 a.m.. So we’re going to find out a bit more about this because the man behind this is Glyn Watkins. Welcome to the show Glyn. Hello!

Glyn:  Hello Gayle… I was going to say that I hope the jelly babies cleared your palate and given you an energy boost.

Gayle: Well a lot of runners have jelly babies, don’t they? First of all: Bowling Hall, or Bowling Hall?

Glyn:  You see I’ve had arguments with the British, eh, the Bradford Antiquarian Society many years ago. I mean it’s East Bolling, if you live in Bradford… (cut)  It’s spelled Bolling Hall in East Bowling, so obviously two completely different names aren’t there?… Whatever you call East Bowling that’s what you should say the name of the Hall is; yer know. Somebody wrote it down and it’s the obsession with how it’s writ, not how it’s said

Gayle: Exactly

Glyn: Have you ever tried to write York-sha dar-lect daarn, it gits reet hard!

Gayle: (laughter)  Your absolutely right. Glyn, tell me all about the Hat Throwing Championships. When did it start, and why did it start?

Glyn: The started ten years ago, on Ilkley Moor, Bar’ tat… when I decided to do something during the Ilkley Literary Festival, when they didn’t even short list me for the roll of Poet on Residence 

Gayle: (sympathetic noises, followed by chuckling during Glyn’s next few lines).

Glyn: So I started an Uncut Fringe, and it just came into my head. So I started the Transnational Incorporated Federation of Formally thrown Hat Associations to oversee it. So T.I.F.F.T.A. is now the World Hat Throwing organisation:.. and it’s about getting hats on target; so when you threw your bobble hat at Nick he says it skimmed his head. Well, if it had stayed on his head that would, indeed… although, strictly speaking it’s a moving target, that would have counted as free hatting, which we’re we’re not running competitions for free hatting yet. It’s only on stationary targets.

Gayle: I see, Glyn, for anyone who missed that, I’ll do a little bit of my own version of hat throwing, that I did earlier this morning, so here we go:

Goes to recording

Well, good morning. Here we are at BBC Yorkshire. So we’re in the very empty Newsroom at the moment. I’m in front of a picture of a dry stone wall. A beautiful Yorkshire scene behind me. So we’re going to have a little go at Hat Throwing. So I’ve got a bobble hat. I that that… won’t hurt somebody if it hit them clean in the eye, whereas a peaked cap, a top hat, that might cause some damage. 

So I think the idea is, when you’re doing Hat Throwing, you have to aim at something. It’s got to land somewhere. So I thought I would use the producer of BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show, which is the Ginger Wizard, Nic Wilmshurst. So, hat in hand, a very, very big, fluffy bobble hat, the kind of hat you really don’t want to wear on a warm summer’s day; but it’s got quite a bit of weight behind it so I reckon I can absolutely wang it!

Are you ready Ginger Wizard?

Nick (in distance. : I am, yes!)

Gayle: Right. OK. I am going to chuck the hat at you. And if it hits you I’ll consider that a big win. How far away from me would you say you are?

Nick: 12 feet.

Gayle: I reckon I can do 12 feet! Here we jolly well go. One! Two! Three!… And GO!

(distant exclamation!)

It didn’t even skim yer, but I reckon I could have thrown that a lot further. That’s done, what? 15 feet? Something like that? I could do better than that, I reckon, with a bit of practice, I could really smash this.

Returns to live interview.

Gayle: The video for that, which is going to be a viral sensation, obviously, will go on @radioleeds, our twitter feed: but Glyn, how did I get on. Did I stay within the rules at all?

Glyn: Well, the thing about the rules is, the way I run it, is that you get a reasonable number of chances, and as soon as you get it on target, that and the next 2 count, and then you carry on until you miss. So if you get your wrist action right there’s some potential there. Obviously you need to come to Bowling Hall, after 11 this morning, and you need to give it a go.

Gayle: Well, exactly.

Glyn:  I’ll take a photo and put it instagram. I might take a film, if I can manage that!

Gayle: Can you turn up with your own hat then?

Glyn: You can do. T.I.F.F.T.A. rules say it’s got to be safe to throw, and no metal is allowed, especially in bowlers. And any hat abuse will result in disqualification from that day’s event; and any hat fighting will result in a Sine Die, life long, ban. The dark underbrim of hat fighting is something we really need to stamp out.

And by the way, I am the author and publisher of the Wayne Jacobs Little Red Head Book, celebrating Red Headed Footballers and the Mysteries of Red Hair.

Gayle: Oh wow!

Glyn:  (cut) but if you come to the hat throwing I will bring some spare copies, I have one or two left. Available to the general public and people who like red headed footballers and red hair.

Gayle: And finally, what will the winner get?

Glyn: The winner will get the deep satisfaction. All Grand Hatting will receive a certificate, but because it’s points total, the winner can’t be declared until the competition closes. So if you look on there as soon as I get home and manage to get the results up; … and I am going to try and get it on Instagram. I have a whiteboard where I’ll be keeping a running total, … (cut) check @hatthrowing, you should see the on-going development, and the nail biting…

Gayle: Glyn, Glyn, I’m really sorry to stop you but I’ve got to go to the travel. I feel we could talk about Hat Throwing all day. Have a great day, Thank you so much for coming on. Take care

(Travel intro music plays)

He was going to talk till 8 o’clock wasn’t he? Let’s get the latest on the roads. How’s the roads look David?

David:  You can’t knock someone with a passion, can you?

Gayle: Ah, No