The first carnival
The first Langport Carnival took place on Wednesday 15 July 1925. It was organised by the Langport Branch of the British Legion, with the proceeds (which grossed over £90) going to local British Legion funds.
The event was, according to the Langport & Somerton Herald, ‘crowned with success’. The flags on display made the streets ‘one blaze of colour’. The Langport Town Band led the procession from The Avenue to Langport West Station, and then back to the Memorial Field, where the competitors were judged by Major & Mrs Cely Trevilian of Midelney Place, and Mr & Mrs J Kelway, of Wearne Wyche.
Several competitors rode on horseback. Amongst others, Mr H S Gover was dressed as a Roman Soldier and Mr C J Calder as a cowboy, but the class was won by Mr C Gaylard, who was ‘Prince Rupert’s bodyguard’. Other carnival prizes that year included:- first prize for a Decorated Vehicle to Miss I Brown for a Farmer’s waggon with scarecrow; the first prize in the Comic category went to ‘four children dressed as Imps’, and Master C Gare won second prize in the Gentlemen’s Fancy Dress category for his ‘Indian Rajah’. In addition to the usual obstacle races and a tug of war, the sports that followed included some rather stranger contests, such as pillow fights, and ‘musical chairs on cycles’. Most of the prizes in the skittling competition seemed to be livestock – a pig, two hens and two cockerels. The day was rounded off with a dance in the evening, to music supplied by the Town Band.
The carnival in 1929
The last carnival of the 1920s took place on 10 July 1929. This is the first one – so far as we know – for which we have identified a photograph. It is of Florence Lee and Mary Cullen dressed as tramps, with a decorated pram bearing the placard ‘Gentle people of the road’. They won first prize in the class for older children, aged 8-14.
Other prizewinners included Mr C J Calder dressed as a ‘Golliwog’, riding a horse; Miss Betty Maynard, for a walking costume called ‘Black Cat cigarettes’ (a popular brand in Britain at the time), and Mr John Pippard for ‘Show me the way to go home’. It should be remembered that some displays and costumes reflect attitudes of their times that may no longer be considered acceptable.
Langport carnivals continued right up until recent times. What follows is a selection of the many photographs that local residents have shared with us, demonstrating what treasured occasions the carnivals were.
Click on an image to enlarge it and see the caption