Celebrating six decades of Kettering carnival

Carnival Queens from 1982
Carnival Queens from 1982

With Kettering’s annual carnival fast approaching, the Telegraph has dipped into its archives to look at pictures from town celebrations which took place years ago.

Carnival season is well under way despite the weather, with Corby, Rothwell and Desborough all hosting parades in recent weeks.

Kettering Carnival in 1997

Kettering Carnival in 1997

And with Kettering’s big date for the carnival set for Saturday, August 18, organisers are promising a bumper day.

It started it out its current form – with the fete based in Rockingham Road Pleasure Park – in 1948.

Festival chairman Alan Cockshoot has been involved with the carnival since the 1970s when he was helping to marshall the event.

He said: “It started in its present form, taking place at Rockingham Road Pleasure Park, just before the 50s.

Kettering carnival in 1997

Kettering carnival in 1997

“Before that, it was a carnival to raise money for the hospital, but once the NHS came in they didn’t need the carnival to support the hospital.

“When I started, the parade was a lot bigger.

“We used to have nearly 20 floats, as it was so much cheaper.

“It was the sort of celebration a lot of people came out to, as they had less to do.

“You didn’t have computer games, or many leisure clubs for people to go to.”

After a quiet few years, the carnival has enjoyed something of a renaissance.

Mr Cockshoot said: “Perhaps it was a lack of money that people had, but about four or five years ago we were having a bad time.

“But the carnival has really got popular again over the past couple of years.

“The fete itself might have even got bigger than it was in the 70s and 80s, we’ve got loads of stalls and entertainment.”

The fete itself used to be on Northampton Road’s recreation ground, but the route the parade takes has not changed much down the years.

Mr Cockshoot added: “One of the differences of the route was that it used to go down Newland Street and Gold Street.

“We used to have a job getting some of the big lorries round the corners.”

Mr Cockshoot’s most vivid memories of the festival are when the carnival has been subjected to the type of weather the county has had recently.

He said: “Once one year is over, we get planning on for the next one so there’s not much time to reflect.

“But I do remember when it rains at the carnival.

“A few years ago it threw it down with rain and parts of Lower Street were flooded.

“Another good memory is when Barbara Windsor came to the festival. That’s going back about 10 years now though.”