History of 
Wellingborough Carnival

In 1900 Wellingborough Cottage Hospital opened with two wards with six beds in each, endowed by individual persons and by public subscriptions. Further units of the hospital, built later, were 'donated' by various organisations in the town.

Originally the Carnival was called the 'Hospital Parade Day' and was organised to raise funds for the Cottage Hospital. It was set up to assist the Hospital in Wellingborough in 1908 and the proceeds of the annual parade went to help fund the hospital.
It continued to provide a source of revenue for the hospital, approximately a fifth of the annual costs, for the next 30 years until the NHS was founded in 1948, when the name of the parade was changed to Wellingborough Carnival.


On being incorporated into the Oxford Regional Hospital Board, the Cottage Hospital become the Wellingborough Hospital.

The Carnival Queen was selected by each entrant being given a charity collection box with the girl who had collected the most money for her chosen charity winning the title.


In most carnivals one of the first floats to head up the parade is the one carrying the Carnival Queen. This tradition started in 1933 and the first Carnival Queen to be elected, then called Miss Wellingborough, was Miss Joan Gossock.

In 1936 the Wilford family donated a wonderful rose bowl which has been presented to the winning Carnival Queen at the selection event every year since that date.

Around 1939 there was a disagreement between Wellingborough Council and The Chamber of Commerce which resulted in the Council organising a Carnival Queen and The Chamber organising a Miss Wellingborough competition.

The Committee found that they were without a Carnival Court and they asked Charlotte to be their Carnival Queen for the day. Since 2006 the Carnival has continued on an upward spiral celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2008.



In 2008 Wellingborough Carnival celebrated their centenary with around 60 parade entries and thousands of people lining the parade route.


Funding was also received from Awards for All to the value of £9,625. This money was spent on workshops to create two big main frame costumes in the form of a rose to depict the beginnings of the carnival when it was called the Rose Day Parade and a big pink flamingo representing the old zoo.






Wellingborough Carnival received funding for the 100th Carnival Bridges for Ethnic Minority Communities. £1,000 funded two workshops for disability groups to help them create their pieces and wear them in the parade. 


PHAB and The Kingsway Community Association both benefited from this money.






Grassroots gave the Carnival £2,000 towards lantern making workshops for the Parade of Lanterns in November 2008.

2012 -Wellingborough Council has announced that this weekend’s carnival and party in the park have been cancelled because of heavy rain.

A council spokesman said: "Unfortunately we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel the party weekend because of the weather. Croyland Park, the venue for both events, is waterlogged and we had a couple of lorries stuck in the mud there earlier today as we tried to set up. With more heavy rain forecast for the weekend, it would be unsafe to go ahead with the events."  




Extract from A History of Wellingborough by Joyce & Maurice Palmer

The Cottage Hospital opened in 1900. There were two wards with six beds in each, endowed by individuals and by public donatations. Further units of the hospital built later, were 'donated' by various organisations of the town, and the proceeds of the annual carnival parade, once know as 'Hospital Day' went to the hospital.



An extract from an ET Article Remember When - Thursday 24th January 2008 by Pete Austin

It was a 100 years ago this year that Wellingborough heard the bands play.

The year was 1908 and the streets were lined with crowds eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first Hospital Parade (now the Wellingborough Carnival.)

The carnival was originally called Hospital Parade and was organised to raise funds for the Cottage Hospital on Doddington Road, Wellingborough.


It continued to provide a source of revenue for the hospital, approximately a fifth of the annual costs, for the next 30 years until the NHS was founded in 1948, when the name was changed to Wellingborough Carnival.

In most carnivals one of the first floats to head up the parade is the one carrying the carnival queen.


This tradition started in 1933 and the first carnival queen to be elected, then called Miss Wellingborough was Miss Joan Gossock.

In 1936 the Wilford family donated a rose bowl, which has been presented to the winning carnival queen every year since this date. 


In recent years this event has run as a two-day event, with the carnival parade and arena events taking place on a Saturday and Party in the Park with live music on Sunday.


A Miss Wellingborough competition, organised by the Chamber of Trade was held during the 1930's.


Born on January 12, 1921, the daughter of Harry and Mabel Worley, of Wellingborough, worked in the ticket writing department of Saxby's.


It was suggested that Audrey Worley should enter and that year, the five finalists were selected by the film star Robert Donat. 


The eventual winner was decided by how much money each finalist collected, the money going to The Cottage Hospital. Her daughter Diane said: "She remembers riding on the council float, which was a large platform surrounded by huge pots of hydrangeas lent by one of the nurseries.


"What really sticks in her memory about that parade is the streets lined with people and the collections for the hospital along the way.

"These were not only at ground level but with nets attached to long poles which were held up to the people watching the parade from their upstairs windows."

One person who remembers Wellingborough Carnival well is Roma Rawlings, nee Berrill.

An attendant to the carnival queen in 1938, she was crowned Wellingborough Carnival Queen in 1939.

She said "I was chosen to be the queen at the Central Hall dance.

"We had lovely dresses and the crowning took place on the bandstand by the previous queen.

"The parade started and finished at the Bassetts Close Park and during the evening there was entertainment.
"At about nine o'clock we were taken down to the Central Hall dance, led by the band and crowds following.
"These are really happy memories of this special day 69 years ago and I was the last queen before the war started."

"The parade started and finished at the Bassetts Close Park and during the evening there was entertainment.
"At about nine o'clock we were taken down to the Central Hall dance, led by the band and crowds following.



John Earl remembers his parents took him as a toddler to see the parades in the early 1930's. John founder member and curator of the Northamptonshire Film Archive Trust, which collects and preserves films and projectors has a collection of movie footage of carnival from 1910 when it was the Cottage Hospital Parade, to film taken in the 20's through to the 70's.

He said: "The earliest film we have is of the 1910 parade. It shows the fire brigade's original hand pump and its new horse drawn pump following behind.

"There is also a group of people pushing a model aeroplane, something many people had never seen before.                                           

"One had crash landed in Irthlingborough the previous year when it was taking part in a round Britain race but to the ordinary person on the street this form of transport was completely alien."

He said the film had been shot professionally by a gentleman from London, who was friends with the owner of the King's Palace cinema in Wellingborough (now Laser Maze on Church Street), and it was announced the film of the carnival would be shown at the cinema the following week.

Mr Earl said "It was one of the reasons why so many people could be seen jostling for a position in front of the Hind Hotel where the camera had been set up on the balcony.

"They knew they would be able to see themselves on screen a few days later.

"The film we have of the 1925 carnival shows a lady pushing her highly decorated bicycle which also carried her little dog.

"She was a regular member of the parade for many years.

"We also have film of the 1933 carnival, the year of the first Carnival Queen