Witham Carnival in the 1930s

This was written for me in 2001 by Mrs Peggy Blake (nee Butcher).

‘Notting Hill’, it wasn’t, but the effort, enthusiasm and hard work of everyone made up for any modern glitter ! Mums sewed miles of crepe paper into frilly dresses – “Don’t sit down until after the judging dear”.

There was usually a Ghandhi – one sheet and a pair of underpants took no sewing. Grown men in prams wearing bonnets and sucking dummies were always evident – and at any age used to make me cringe !

Crittall’s Band always stood out in their bright orange and saxe blue uniforms – a mixture I hated – but then the firm only made metal windows ! It was a good band, though.

The tradesmen and their workers used to go to a lot of trouble dressing their floats (and themselves), bowers and trails of paper roses etc – all had to be made. Whatever the hospitals gained from the carnivals, the crepe paper industry must have been laughing too !

Notes by JG:-
Money collected at the carnival went to support hospitals, which were all privately funded.
The first Witham Carnival was in 1929. Peggy and her friends were photographed in 1936 – see photos M1122 to M1128.
A search for Carnival will show that they have all been a popular subject for photography.


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