in the 1960s, when I was a reporter on The Nantwich Chronicle (then a paid-for
weekly newspaper), I was also a
member of the organising committee of the Nantwich Carnival - an event which
faded out in that decade.
Attending the meetings throughout the year wasn't too bad - for one thing I was
also there to report on the deliberations and preparations for the event and, as
far as I recall, there was rarely a clash of events. If a meeting of another
society, etc, had been planned for the same evening, the local chief reporter
(the late Percy Walker) would have decided which one I would cover and which he
would report on.
I think it was fairly inevitable that I would get the Carnival Committee
meeting. In any case, the committee would have tried to pick an evening for
their own meeting that wouldn't clash with other events so that members would
not have been faced with a dilemma of which meeting to attend if something else
And the Carnival Committee understood that I couldn't be too actively involved
in the events of Carnival Day (usually the third Saturday in June - anything
from the 15th to the 21st) as I had my reporting work to do. It was a different
matter during the week when I could help at the various events and still turn in
As I said, this all faded out in the late 1960s and a new event - the Crewe
Carnival - came on the scene every August. Now
Nantwich Town Council wants to revive the Nantwich event. In the current issue
of "Talk of the Town," their quarterly newsletter, there is the
headline: "How about reviving the carnival?"
The council is thinking of running a revived event in the summer of 2005 which
"if successful, could become an annual event." Now they are seeking
suggestions and ideas from local people "who would be interested in forming
a carnival committee." A possible theme for 2005 is a Festival of Drama -
which, on the face of it, will probably involve another of the local groups I am
associated with, Nantwich Players.
One or two people who know of my connection with the Carnival in the '60s have
asked me if I will be getting involved with the new Carnival Committee, but I
have told them that I won't be. It was fine in the old days, but I feel I have
more than enough to do at the moment. I am sure that there are plenty of
Nantwich residents who have an aptitude for organising such an event.
There was a Nantwich Carnival in 2000
to mark Millennium Year. That was organised by the Nantwich Christian
Council to mark the 2,000th
birthday of Jesus Christ. Not unnaturally it included a service to
round off a day full of events. Nantwich Town Band played music, and there was a
vintage car parade. A local dog club laid on a demonstration of the skills of
their clever pets, including leaps through blazing hoops. Scottish dancing was
another of the events staged, and throughout the day children were able to enjoy
"bungee jumping on the flat" - they ran along corridors created from inflated
plastic walls, not unlike a bouncy castle, while tethered to one end with an
elastic rope. They had to run and get as far as they could along the "corridor"
and retrieve an object placed on the "wall".
But one thing that was missing from the 2000
event that was a feature of the carnivals of the 1960s were dancing troupes.
Girls from local clothing factories would enter this competition which involved
some very colourful costumes and a kind of marching to music not unlike the
American football cheerleaders, although more regimented. They were judged on
their efforts. But as the competition grew over the years it tended to fill most
of Carnival Day and so your ears were assailed by dance troupe music for hours
on end. It was often a great relief to have to go to the Civic Hall to see that
everything was going smoothly with preparations for the dance which rounded off
Carnival week - a task which I was grateful to be asked to help to do!
Let me stress that I have nothing against dancing troupes per se, it was just
that the Nantwich Carnival seemed to become a venue that lots of troupes wished
to visit and it took some time for them all to compete.
There were, of course,
other events taking place on the carnival field - Brookfield Park. Like many
Nantwich sites, the park has changed somewhat over the
Of course, apart from
the entertainment we provided for the local people,
there was the money we raised for local charities - the proceeds of the week of
events. One of the ways of attracting the public was to arrange for a big name
star to come and crown the Carnival Queen before signing autographs. The names
of Ken Dodd, Sabrina (pictured) and David Hamilton spring to mind. Ken, the
comedian, is still around and I am fairly sure David is, but I haven't heard of
Sabrina for a while.
Of course, the real "star" of
Carnival Week was
Mrs Vera Hobson, the
Secretary, a formidable lady who was as nice as pie underneath but knew how to
get the job done. It was a year-round task for the committee to organise the
annual event and while we had a Chairman and all the other usual officers, the
bulk of the task of organising things fell on Vera. I can't think of anyone in
Nantwich at the moment who could take her place - although I am sure we will
find someone to take on the role.
I mentioned the Carnival Queen. In fact, there were two local
beauties who were "Queens" for a year, making appearances at charity events in the
succeeding 12 months. There was also a Clothing Queen with entrants, obviously,
from the local clothing factories. The Carnival Queen as such wasn't elected
just from Nantwich girls. Throughout the winters months we held dances at
various villages in the Nantwich Rural area, and we picked one local girl from
each. These went on to a final at which the Carnival Queen was chosen.
I remember one year - the year that
Yvonne Ormes won the Nantwich title at the start of her fame on the beauty trail
- that I was sitting "backstage" at the Civic Hall talking to a representative
of a national travel firm who were giving a prize of a trip to
Germany for that year's winner. I was making small
talk when I said to him "Yes, it's a great prize. I wouldn't mind going myself."
And that's all it was, I promise you - conversation. Suddenly he was saying:
"Well, why don't you? I can arrange it and you can do a report for your
newspaper. It will be good publicity for us and a nice article for you." And so
there I was, chaperoning Yvonne and her younger sister, Glenys.
But no, I'm sorry, not even a repeat of that job will entice me back to being on
the new Nantwich Carnival committee . . .
UPDATE (February 2013): Nantwich Fun Day -
the successor event to Nantwich Carnival - took place for the last time in 2011.
This was the third year it had been held (the first was on
July 9, 2005).The event had been organised by the specially-formed Nantwich Annual Family Fun Day
Association. But "overburdening administrative duties" brought about its demise.
Funds held in the Fun Day accounts were distributed to local community
organisations after the event was closed with the last amount being given
to the British Red Cross to buy a defibrillator for use in the area in February
UPDATE (2014): The Crewe Carnival has also
ceased to be held and Mrs Hobson has died.
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