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Bygone Stanley - Carnival and Gala

THE STANLEY CARNIVAL AND GALA DAYS 1920's & 1930's

I have made mention of the annual seaside trip from Newmarket Colliery, but another really big occasion was the Annual Carnival. Almost everyone in the village played a part in making this event a success. All the local farmers competed against each other for the best decorated cart, and the shire horses were fitted with polished harness and were well groomed. Local womenfolk usually cleaned and decorated the carts with flowers and ribbons. On the parade through the village each cart was filled with the children, all dressed up in their home-made dresses. Every mother made sure her child was clean and well dressed and the girls always looked so pretty; some would get dressed up as if going to a fancy dress ball.

Others had a bit of fun as a comic band. But there was nothing comical about the Stanley Brass Band who led the procession. They were indeed a fine band of very talented musicians. Most of them were miners and it was a pleasure to listen to them play.

Some of the menfolk had still a Penny Farthing bicycle in their garden shed and the few who possessed one had it polished and greased and they rode in the procession. Games were organised. All the children in the village at all ages took part. There were races for different age groups of running, sack races, egg & spoon races - all good fun. The womenfolk all made a contribution of buns and cakes so that everyone had a little something to eat. An elderly lady (I wish I could remember her name) made bottles and bottles of nettled beer. She made a small charge of 1d. per bottle, and it was a most refreshing drink.

It was indeed a very special day and I think God must have known how important it was to the villagers because I never remember any occasion when it rained. Ir was always a bright, sunny day.

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