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Hindle Wakes

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 27th Feb 2015 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

The Octogan Theatre, Bolton

Hindle Wakes is a good old Lancashire yarn, set in a fictitious town just before the First World War. It focuses on two sets of parents and their offspring, Fanny Hawthorn and Alan Jeffcote, who are discovered to have spent a secret weekend alone together.

To make matters worse, Fanny is a weaver at the local mill and Alan is the mill owner’s son. Their fathers have been friends since they were boys but that doesn’t make it socially acceptable. Even worse, Alan is engaged to Beatrice, the daughter of local bigwig, Sir Timothy Farrar.

Oh dear...there’s going to be trouble at mill.

Fanny and Alan have gone separately to Blackpool during Wakes Week, the annual holidays when all of Hindle’s workers down tools. After meeting up they decide to disappear for what would now be known as “a dirty weekend” in Llandudno. Their friends cover for them but a tragedy alerts Fanny’s parents to the truth.

Once their secret is revealed Alan is pressured to marry Fanny and there ensues a series of funny, touching and frustrating conversations involving both families, which result in Fanny turning him down. It’s great to see Colin Connor in a more light-hearted role as Beatrice’s father after some of the intense characters he’s played recently. His portrayal of a well-to-do man about town who sees nothing wrong with such an indiscretion - until he fears it will impact on him financially - has perfect comic timing.

Tristan Brooke puts in a fine performance as the feckless Alan, and Natasha Davidson is utterly believable as the feisty weaver who puts him in his place. Between them, the cast play out the social conventions stereotypical of the day with aplomb.

The simple set echoes their differences, beginning with a sparse gathering of furniture for the Hawthorn's home, which expands to become a more luxurious layout for the Jeffcote's.

When Stanley Houghton wrote Hindle Wakes in 1910, not only was it unusual to have a working class woman as the main character, but one with a Northern accent who sees no problem with a pre-marital fling would have been unheard of. Therefore the play caused plenty of controversy when it was first performed in 1912.

While today's audience may have chuckled when Fanny was branded a “hot blooded little wench,” who was “jolly immoral,” in those days this carry on would not have been a laughing matter. Yet we see Fanny earn a grudging respect from Alan’s Mother, and even praise from the spurned lover himself: “You’re a damn good sport.”


As Alan sets off jauntily to see if his ex-fiancée will take him back, and Fanny remains content with her freedom, we applaud the spirit of independence which was well before her time – you go girl!

Meanwhile the men, as ever, remain perplexed about women, as Jeffcote muses: “And these are the creatures that want us to give them votes!”


Photographs by Ian Tilton

Hindle Wakes is on until 21st March.

Tickets: £26.50 - £10, discounts available including SEASON TICKETS, groups, schools and young person's £5 tickets. Available on 01204 520661 or at



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Kirstie. This sounds very entertaining.
  • Kirstie Niland
    by Kirstie Niland 3 years ago
    It's very funny, and good to see such early giirl power!
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