David Brayshaw column

David Brayshaw.
David Brayshaw.

Those who follow Morecambe Carnival’s Facebook will have seen extracts from the 1936 souvenir programme which Debbie Cain kindly loaned to me. Houses for £495 with a £25 deposit; how times change.

Back in 1936, Morecambe still had a band stand and during the carnival, The Grimethorpe Colliery Band played there.

They famously won the National Brass Band Championship in 1972, five days after learning that their pit was to be closed and they were all being made redundant.

They even made a film about it, ‘Brassed Off’ starring a young Ewan McGregor. Grimethorpe Colliery Band are still going strong and I contacted them to see if they might be available to perform at this year’s carnival, unfortunately they have a prior engagement but maybe 2015.

The souvenir programme makes fascinating reading. There are adverts for Fowler’s Removals, The Kings Arms and The Cumberland View, all businesses which are still going strong; then there are adverts for The Elms Hotel and The Grosvenor Hotel, iconic Morecambe establishments that sadly, are no more.

There’s an advert for the Morecambe Direct Supply Co. Ltd. bringing drinking water direct to your house and Capt. Barber, on Balmoral Road, who sold English eggs and poultry and offered ‘wholesale terms’ to boarding houses.

Believe it or not, the 1936 carnival took place over two weeks and included amateur and professional golf competitions, gymnastics, athletics, a gymkhana, a pet show, fancy dress competitions and a sheep dog trial held on Morecambe golf course! What’s more amazing is that Lancaster City Council have misplaced every single trophy except the one for the sheep dog trials.

We could try to resurrect them but I’m thinking that Morecambe Golf Club might object! There were the traditional bonniest baby and bonniest twins; the 1936 holders being Jean and Joan Masheder, who are pictured in the programme being held aloft by the mayor of Morecambe and Heysham, Mr Thomas Waite.

These bygone carnivals attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Morecambe and, although they must have taken a phenomenal amount of time and effort in their organising, they must have also have brought huge amounts of money into the local economy.

It would be fantastic if our 2014 carnival could be the first of an annual event that could bloom into a significant festival for Morecambe. This year the carnival is being held at the same time as The Visitor’s Morecambe Day and Sunshine Ball, The Bay Radio’s 21st Birthday Celebrations and the Morecambe Variety Festival in The Winter Gardens; we are all collaborating to make sure we have a fantastic weekend.

With a little more thought and planning we can, I’m sure, produce a full weekend festival in 2015 which will bring Visitors flocking to Morecambe and help fill the hotels, bars, cafes and such like.