Guest Page No. 8
Some time ago I received
an email from Mr Alf Pates who recalled some memories of the
pre-WW2 carnivals and I fully intended producing a page of memories
and photos long before now (June 2007). The cancellation of last
year's carnival and my inability to locate the photos I knew
I had archived away somewhere meant the project got put on to
the back burner and has only now been resurrected. I'll begin
with an extract from Mr Pates' email by way of introduction,
then his memories followed by a selection of photos from my own
My name is Alf Pates and I
was born on Stamford Street, Ilkeston in the mid 1920's and now
live in Brackley, Northants. I remember the carnivals of the
thirties up to the outbreak of war in 1939 and have jotted down
a few memories. Unfortunately I do not have relevant photographs
to accompany the recollections.
Memories of Ilkeston Carnivals and Bands in the 1930s
My memories of the many bands
which were formed in the 1930s begin with what was known
as the Tramp Band. A motley but keen group of youngsters guided
by elders and dressed in their oldest and worn clothes(hence
the name Tramp), some with their possessions wrapped
in a handkerchief dangling at the end of a stick over their shoulders
and many wore a cap much too big for them. Their overall comic
appearance caused much hilarity among the bystanders as they
trudged rather than marched through the streets. The music section
was small but effective and included I think, a few brass instruments,
kettledrum or two, a bass drum but mainly kazoos.
Before moving off they assembled
in the alleyway at the side of the Market Inn in the Market Place.
This may have been their headquarters but I am not
sure about this. Certainly whenever they appeared in public they
raised a smile or two which wasn't bad in the 30s.
One of the leading bands was
the Ilson Middies dressed in their smart naval midshipman uniforms.
They were led by Drum Major Gold for a number of seasons and
won many prizes at carnivals throughout the East Midlands as
did another band called I think the Harmonicas who were dressed
in white silk shirts, wide brimmed Mexican-type hats and flared
trousers. I think they had some accordions supplying the music
Another band emanated from
Critchley Street off North Street called the Imperials. I remember
this band very well as they practised in the Durham Ox assembly
rooms on Durham Street not far from where I lived on Stamford
Street. They gathered once a week and entertained or annoyed
the householders around and in nearby streets marching up and
down in this not very large room beating their drums and blowing
their bugles with unseemly vigour.
A Drum Major I do remember
led a band from the Awsworth Road/Granby Street area, I think,
but I can't remember its name. This leader was an adventurous
and fearless performer with his mace. While marching along he
would periodically throw his mace very high into the air; it
twirled once or twice, returned to earth and he would smartly
catch it without breaking step. An anxious moment for us watching
for I saw him attain heights way above the trolley bus wires
on Bath Street, and of course higher than any of his rival drum
majors. A skill worth admiring.
Other bands visiting Ilkeston
were from Nottingham, Raleigh Ambassadors, Players Imperials
and Lenton Priory Pages and from Hucknall the Harlequins in their
colourful diamond-patterned costumes and well known for their
quicker precise marching which won them many prizes. Bands also
came from Derby, Bulwell and even Newark, all providing great
entertainment especially demonstrated by their skills in marching
and counter marching and forming their individual set pieces
on areas such as the Manor Ground.
I wanted to join one of the
bands when I was 10/11 years old but my father would have non
of it. He used to say, If there is a war (which looked
likely and there was) the first people to be called up will be
members of carnival bands I asked why and he said Because
they can march. A puzzling answer at least. However, I
did accompany the carnival procession one year with a collecting
tin urging the public to give money to raise funds for Ilkeston
General Hospital on Heanor Road.
I remember we started off on
Nottingham Road near Cavendish Road through the town and finished
at the Manor Ground where a carnival band contest took place
in the evening.
Incidentally on the corner
of Bath Street and Chapel Street was Wood's Chemist's shop and
most years photographs of the procession were taken from the
ideal position of an upstairs window of the shop. Many excellent
photos of the bands and floats were displayed and for sale the
following week in the shop window.
Many unpaid volunteers and
local business people helped to make the yearly carnivals a success.
The Daily Mail sent a van containing public address equipment
which was used all week at various functions. There were fund-raising
activities mainly at the Manor Ground including motorcycle grass
track racing and gymkhanas. Barton Transport always loaned their
mobile throne to convey the carnival queen and her attendants.
I also remember Mr Clarke a
teacher at Hallcroft School one of the carnival organisers thanking
my mother Elsie Pates nee Baker for her contribution to the carnival.
She made the dresses for the carnival queen and her attendants
for a number of years.
As much as £1000 would
be raised for the hospital during the week. As we would say now,
a lot of money in those days.
I hope everyone enjoyed the
carnivals as much as I did.
Carnival Photos from the 1950s
I cannot go back as far as Mr Pates but I think all of the following
photos come from the early years of the 1950s.
My mother worked for Charnos and at that
time all the local businesses entered floats in the street parade
that was the highlight of Carnival Week. I cannot identify anyone
on this photo but I strongly suspect that it features a bevy
of Charnos beauties.
Likewise I cannot identify any of these
ladies either but again as it is an all female group, I would
suspect that they all worked for Charnos.
This one is much easier to identify - the
Captain of the "ship" is my dad, Tom Newton. The building
behind looks like the old Rutland Hotel at the bottom of Bath
The same float again and as well as my
Dad, I can identify a number of people in this photo. The Mountie
in the middle is my Uncle Allan (Henshaw) and his wife Auntie
Joan is on the float at the extreme right. Her brother, my Uncle
Bill (Birkin) is the pirate also on the right of the photo. The
young boy in front of the ship's funnel is none other than yours
truly. Now you know how I can date these images!
The "ship", the SS Barton, was
of course a converted bus as evidenced by the name on the rudder
and also by the fact that my Dad was employed by the company
for over 25 years. These days carnival floats are normally just
open backed and decorated lorries but you can see the lengths
people went to back then to transform the appearance of vehicles.
This photo if memory serves me correctly
was taken at the Beauty Spot and is a family group of Auntie
Joan, Uncles Allan and Bill and me. Uncle Bill must have been
a master of the quick change for his piratical appearance had
been replaced by an Indian outfit. Apart from the obvious family
connection, quite why there were Mounties, cowboys and cowgirls
on board the SS Barton has always eluded me but - Hey! That's
Here for the recent Carnival Images
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