Members of Irthlingborough Historical Society have been researching the origins of the town’s annual carnival parade.
They’ve discovered links to a fledgling health service, and an interesting list of donations of raffle prizes which included – a pig!
Long before the coming of the National Health Service, provision for the sick and injured was very basic indeed.
During the year 1909 a total of 2,285 patients were admitted to Northampton Infirmary, which included 37 from Irthlingborough.
To gain admission for treatment a recommendatory letter was needed from a subscriber.
However, accidents and emergencies were admitted without a ‘letter’.
The Irthlingborough Carnival Parade Committee that year donated 10 guineas to the running of the hospital, Irthlingborough Co-operative Society gave £2 while Mrs Saxby and John Spencer subscribed one guinea each.
The cost to the infirmary of treating an in-patient was £5-3-0d, while the cost per out-patient was three shillings and six pence.
It was in 1902 that a committee had been formed in Irthlingborough charged with arranging a Trades Procession and Demonstration in aid of Northampton Infirmary.
Highly successful, it was the first of a long series of carnival parades held in the town.
The order of the 1902 parade
The Church Lads Brigade
Irthlingborough Town Silver Band
Ministers of Religion
Members of the Urban District Council
Members of the Oddfellows, Forresters & Rechabite Friendly Societies all wearing their regalia
The Fire Brigade
Nursing Sisters with a cot and a child
Procession of carts representing various trades in the town – builders, curriers, shoe manufacturers, blacksmiths, gas-fitting & plumbing, dressmakers, hairdressers, lace maker, photographer, milkmaid and wheelwrights
Minstrel Troupe – comic characters and caricatures
Weary Willie & Tired Tim
Irthlingborough Town Football Club dressed as male and female footballers
St John Ambulance Brigade with three members in khaki, and a wounded soldier
After the parade everyone moved to Mr Spencer’s field to watch an exhibition of drills by the fire brigade, a male v female football match and entertainment by the Minstrel Troupe.
A total amount of £50-16-6d was raised.
It was decided to send £25 to Northampton Infirmary for Letters, and £25 to the Northampton Hospital Week Committee as a donation.
As plans were being finalised to repeat the hospital parade the following year, the Hon Sec, Mr W Tunn, was having to contradict rumours to the effect that Irthlingborough Hospital Parade Committee only granted Letters to those applicants who had been recommended by Dr Robb.
The photograph of the 1952 parade shows the size of crowds which once witnessed the annual processions.
The programme for the 1962 event opened by Peter Adamson, who played Len Fairclough in Coronation Street, makes interesting reading, particularly the enormous number of raffle prizes donated by the town’s tradespeople.
Among the items donated were a pig, a nylon under-set, six gallons of Regent petrol, an LP record and a fishing voucher for ten shillings and sixpence!
In the late 1950s and early 1960s it was quite usual for a national celebrity to come and open the carnival – TV and radio presenter Nicholas Parsons was one such.
With thanks to Irthlingborough Historical Society.