The first Clacton Carnival Procession can trace its origins back to 1922 and at that time was organised by Clacton Urban District Council for the benefit of Clacton Cottage Hospital.  There were many changes of Committee from then up to 1953.

We now move on to 1953, a meeting was called and Clacton Carnival Association was set up. From this meeting came 25 founder members, 8 of which were local Councillors.

The Carnival aims and objectives, as laid down in the Constitution of 1953 remain virtually unchanged:  ‘Primarily to raise money for local Charitable organisations while at the same time providing fun and entertainment for holidaymakers and townspeople alike’.

Early Carnivals had three cornerstone events that remain through until now: The Selection and Crowning of the Carnival Queen and Princesses, the Street Procession and the fete and fireworks until Covid hit us for the last 2 years. In those days the early Queen’s Court consisted of 6 girls, a Senior Queen and 2 senior Princesses and a Junior Queen plus 2 junior Princesses.  The Street Procession was held on a Wednesday afternoon – early closing day, always in August.

1969 saw the influx of several new young Committee members – it was like being part of one big happy family and many of these people stayed with us and eventually ended up running one of the many events themselves.

1973 The Sunday Show was up and running and in 1974 the infamous Donkey Derby had its debut and was still being held until 2019.

In 1976 the Youth Marching Band Contest was started and it went on to become one of the best and most successful events Carnival was ever to get involved with.

1978 was a big mile stone for Carnival.  We were able to move all the West Road Car Park and Recreation Ground events to the Colchester Institute site at Gainsford Avenue.

1980 was another milestone when the Carnival Procession was moved to a Saturday evening from the Wednesday.

1985 saw the introduction of the Town Centre Cycle Race in an evening which did not last many years.

1987 The Clacton Lions became involved and produced the annual Carnival Programme until 2015 which was free to everyone.

1990 The very famous Eddie Kidd was our Star for the Sunday show with his amazing motor bike stunts of leaping over several cars which thrilled  the crowds.

1993 unfortunately saw the last of the Youth Marching Band Contest.

1996 we had Mr Blobby as our Sunday Star with his Gunge Tank and other tricks!

In 2002 coin throwing at the procession was a major problem but fortunately the local Press and Police managed to get this stopped.

2003 Was the Golden Anniversary of the Clacton Carnival Association and a celebration dinner was held at Highfields Holiday Park.

Moving on to 2007 we ran the Clacton Music Festival in conjunction with the Clacton County High School.

2008 became Alan Wiggins last year as Carnival Chairman having served for 30 years.  He was later to be made an M.B.E. for all his sterling work for the Carnival.

2009 John Sowton was the new Chairman and we tried a few years of Tribute Bands at the Colchester Institute site, the first one being PRINCE, enabling people to come along and bring their picnics.

2010 we had an ABBA tribute Band.

2011 we had the Beatles Tribute band the ‘Upbeat Beatles’. This was also John’s last year as Chairman.

In 2012 Paul Townend took over as Chairman in the year when we had to cancel the Sunday Show and move the Procession because of the London Olympics.

Then in 2013 we celebrated our 60th Anniversary with a Dinner at the Golf Club.

During these years we have also held a Torchlight Procession, Pram Race, Raft Race, Egg Throwing Contest, Beer Dig and a Children’s Fancy Dress Competition and Quizzes..

Our week’s events continued here until 2014 when we were told we had to move from the College site as they wanted to build a housing estate on it.  So we had to find a new home for our Carnival week.  So in 2015 we ended up at what were the grounds of Bishop’s Park School but it proved unsuitable due to lack of parking. So we had to find another venue where we ended up in 2016 to the playing fields of Alton Park School but we would not be allowed to have fireworks there..
This is where we end our story for now as Covid hit the world and we have not had any Carnival events since 2019.

By 2015 we had a full week of Carnival events, raising money for many local charities.  Our greatest achievement  was our Millennium Project when over a few years we were able to save £22.500.00 and this was donated in the year 2000 for the St. Helene Hospice New Day Centre, to be built in Clacton. All monies raised during Carnival week each year was donated to many local charities.  There is no way we could have achieved this without the help of numerous organisations and volunteers to help us run Carnival Week and, of course the very dedicated members of the Carnival Committee.

Acknowledgement to the late Alan Wiggins M.B.E. for some of the History of Clacton Carnival and Nicky Freeman


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