Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Chorlton Carnival "the most considerable effort of its kind undertaken in the city"

Now there is a story to tell about the Chorlton Carnival which ran through the 1930s and echoed the village celebrations of a century before.

Walking through Chorlton, date unknown
These earlier ones I have researched and written about in my book but those from the 1930s are still as yet only a vague promise of things to come.

This is all the more important given that they will soon pass out of living memory and I doubt that there are many accounts of what went on.

It was it seems linked to the Alexandra Rose Day which was the prime fund raising activity for medical charities in the Manchester and Salford area and dated back to the first held in London in 1912.

There were a number of carnivals across the city during the 1930s but ours seemed to be the biggest, according the Manchester Guardian in the June of 1937, “The gala held in St Margaret’s playing fields, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, on Saturday [June 19th] may be said to mark the opening of the charity carnival season. 

Part of the parade
It has a history of five or six years, but already it has become perhaps the most considerable effort of its kind undertaken in the city on behalf of the Manchester and Salford Charities’ Fund.”*

The format was much the same with the crowning of a Rose Queen a procession through Chorlton “of characters in comic and fancy dress, on horseback, cycle or on foot.” and the gala which included Morris dancing, a horse show and a brass band competition. The 1937 show had excelled itself with five bands taking part but so far there is no record of whether our own band won a prize.

I must confess a little pride in knowing that the procession set off from the Rec after the crowning of the Queen and have often speculated whether Joe and Mary Ann Scott who lived opposite in the house we now occupy were in the crowd.

Oswald Road
A generation earlier and most of the horses competing for prizes at the show at St Margret’s playing fields would have been from the local farms but by the time the carnival was staged the contest was between the tradesmen. Men like Enoch Royle and Bill Mellor who were coal merchant or the many shop keepers who still delivered in the years before the last world war.

And it may have been the war that contributed to it coming to an end. The last seems to have been in 1938 and the break of ten years and changing attitudes made it less likely that it would come back.

In 1948 the Labour Government had introduced a national health service which made the penny finding activities of hospitals and medical charities less necessary.

And for those with a keen sens of the past here is Andy Robertson's picture of the same spot taken a few years ago.

He says, "re picture in today's blog. I think this must be on the corner of Ransfield (Richmond Road). 

It is not the ones on the corner of Claridge or Kensington and I know of no others. 

Also if you check out that old Lloyd photo you posted of Oswald Road a while back there is that big Tree!"

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; Horses being paraded along Oswald Road sometime in the 1930s, courtesy of Mrs Kay, from the Lloyd collection and the shop on Oswald Road, courtesy of Andy Robertson

*Manchester Guardian June 21 1937

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