Cheltenham Passion Play - liaison with Police and Local Authority


The Cheltenham Passion Play 2000
Good Friday, 21st April, 2000
Arrangements on the day

·       Nigel Woodall was in charge of Stewards at the head of the procession - Combined Cadet Force cadets from Pate’s under Nigel’s leadership were in their military uniform.  Other stewards wore  fluorescent jackets.
·       Keith Dawson was in charge of Stewards at the rear of the procession.
·       Stewards were in Sandford Park by the fountain near College Road from 11-15.
·       Two St John Ambulance First Aiders were in attendance

The timings throughout are very approximate.  The following arrangements and timings were given to the police in draft a few weeks before the event.  A final copy of the detailed plans was handed into the Police in person a few days before the event.  All licences and permissions had been granted for use of Parks and for a Procession through the town with the Borough Council and from the Police.  In planning the route and the following arrangements the Organisers were indebted to the the Police and the Council Officers for their very helpful advice and guidance, all of which was followed.   All shopkeepers along the route were informed of the plans in writing and in person.


 Act 1                                     Friendship                            Sandford Park`                    12-00

The Action took place around the Park and finished by the Bath Road Gates at                     12-50

a small group of 3 came through the gates in advance of the others.
Then a couple of minutes later a group of 15 followed on - the core cast.
Then a couple of minutes later the Donkey led the remainder of the crowd.

The Police had said in a letter that they would be unable to provide cover for the procession through the Town.  The organisers had said that this was unwise on two counts - first, traffic might not stop so readily for stewards, whereas they would stop for the police; second, if our stewards stopped the traffic for a sizeable crowd that could cause a back log of traffic jams and prevent access through the town for emergency vehicles - this would not arise if the traffic was stopped by Police in touch with the control room.  In a phone call the Police accepted these comments and said that they would be meet the organisers in Sandford Park.  They did not attend ... and were not attendance for any part of the event.  This meant that the stewards we had trained to marshal the crowd through the shopping centre were not able to do that.  They had to be diverted to stop the traffic.  At one point one vehicle broke through the cordon of uniformed stewards and proceeded to drive through the rear end of the Procession.  One of the Organisers remonstrated in vain with the driver - the chief stewards were side-tracked into dealing with that situation.  As a result the stewarding in the High Street was such that shoppers found it difficult to get by the crowd.  The crowd coming from Sandford Park was 600.  By the time the Play arrived in Imperial Gardens the crowd numbered about 2,000.  With such numbers some kind of Police presence is essential.

Traffic was stopped at the Traffic lights on Bath Road / Bath Street Junction

Procession moved from Sandford Park Gates up Bath Road,
round into Bath Street
to Cambray Church.

Some gathered in the Courtyard outside the Church
others remained on the pavement outside the Courtyard.



Act 2 -                                    Remembrance                                                                                                      1-00
The first part of the action took place at Cambray starting at approx 1-00 for 15 minutes

Then the procession headed off at 1-15 from Cambray up and left on to the High Street
The traffic was blocked off at Cambray

The Second part of the Act took place outside Burger King starting at approx 1-25

At approx 1-45 the procession moved off up the High Street towards Boots Corner
around into the Promenade
and to the Hare and Minotaur for the start of the next Act

The traffic was blocked off at the end of Pittville Street
- where the Pedestrianised part of the High Street finishes

Act 3 -                    Betrayal                -               The Promenade                                                                    2-00
                                                                                               
The Action took place in front of Hooper’s from 2-00 to 2-20
The Procession set off at approx 2-20 between the bollards outside Cavendish House
At the road we crossed at an angle on to the wide Pavement and up the Promenade
Through the War Memorial
and on to the Inner Promenade outside the steps of the Municipal Offices
Trial before Pilate was approx 2-25
The Inner Promenade was closed to cars over night [we had  access in a van and a car
for our technical people]  The Inner Promenade was entirely free of cars.

Traffic was stopped at  Crescent Terrace
- where the pedestrianised part of the Promenade finishes



Procession set off at approx 2-40
up the Inner Promenade and back on to the Promenade

the Procession crossed over on to the pavement by Gap then through the junction
and on to the Pavement outside the Quadrangle

The traffic was stopped just before that junction.

The Procession went up to the main pathway into Imperial Gardens and turned into Imperial Gardens


Act 4 - Death                                                                                                                                        2-50

The crucifixion scene took place at the back of the Town Hall - on Imperial Gardens.  Scaffolding had been errected on Maundy Thursday when there had been opportunity for one rehearshal.  A volunteer remained with the scaffolding until the early hours of the morning.
The play finished at approx 3-00.  In the event the Play actually finished about ten minutes early.

The crowd then dispersed.

The costumed cast made their way back to St Luke’s Church Hall.



Easter Sunday Morning

The entire action took place on Imperial Gardens and so we did not need any Police cover.


Act 5 -                                    Resurrection                                        8-00 on Easter Sunday Morning
The cast gathered at St Andrew’s Church at 7-30 and processed acrross to the Imperial Gardens at    7-55.  The crowd gathered ready for 8-00 in the morning facing the gate to the walled garden.  That gate was now open - no one went into the Garden.  The emergency blanket in which Christ had been wrapped at the end of Act 4 was left neatly folded on the bench in the arbour within the Walled Garden after the gate was locked.  It remained there through the Easter period.


At the end at 8-30 approx cast and crowd returned to St Andrew’s URC church at the bottom of Montpellier St.  On Easter Sunday there was a crowd of approximately 600.