Between 1906 and 1934, there were no Carnival processions, Regattas took over from carnival for a few years, but in 1934 it restarted, complete with Spotting Competition. The Carnival Office was in 7 Cross Street, Ryde. The King and Queen of Carnival arrived by air at Ryde Aerodrome, from Portsmouth, where they were greeted by Mayor Hayden and the Mayoress, before transferring to a charabanc to be driven into Ryde. The Times of 1 September 1934 reported the Dagenham Girl Pipers also traveled by air “from Heston to the Isle of Wight on Wednesday”. The Rev J W Graves, founder and manager of the Dagenham Girl Pipers, accompanied the party to the Island.
About 300 children were assembled in costume and there were many trades people entering tableaux in the parade. Also taking part were The British Legion, ‘Old Bill’, St. John’s Women’s Institute, ‘Arts and Crafts’, The Mead Lawn Tennis Club, ’1906 – still going strong’, and the Rowing Club ‘Ryde, the success of the waves’.
It was said over 5000 people watched the fireworks in the recreation ground, which included a set piece depicting a naval battle. A carnival dance was held at St. John’s Road Drill Hall, which was deemed a hugh success, the music being provided by the Black Diamond Rhythm Boys.
The County Press of Saturday, 19 January 1935, contains the proposal of the formation of a Ryde Carnival Association “for the permanent control of the carnival”, and it was decided that the first week of September should be Carnival Week, an idea considered to bring as many people as possible into Ryde towards the end of the summer season, which still holds true today…… 120 after it first began….or should it be 121?
The 1935 carnival week, 2 to 7 September, included a lucky number competition and an athletic sports event . Two separate programme’s were produced and sold for 2d (2 old pennies) each.
The Dagenham Girl Pipers returned for a second year and performed on the Western Esplanade on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The children’s procession left Partlands at 2.30pm on Tuesday followed by an All-Island Baby Show at 4pm and an Inter-School sports competition. The Buccaneers held a treasure hunt on Wednesday and there was a ‘Grand Community Singing Concert’ in the evening.
The main carnival was at 3.30pm on Thursday followed by a firework display and Carnival Ball. The Great Fete and Funfair was held at the Recreation Ground at “Considerable cost” for the three days Tuesday to Thursday. Children’s ‘Season Tickets’ cost 1/- (one shilling) giving admission to the Ground at any time during the week.
The Isle of Wight Fire Brigades’ Federation Annual Competitions took place on Friday 6 September 1935 at Partlands, Ratcliffe Avenue, Ryde; the first time in 32 years the event was held at Ryde. Chief Fire Officer H Jolliffe of Ryde was the Arena Master and pumps from Ryde, East Cowes, Newport, Sandown, Shanklin and Osborne House took part in five different exercises during the afternoon. The Ryde British Legion Band played selections to entertain the crowd who paid 6d (six old pennies) children 3d (three old pennies) to watch the competition.
The Carnival continued on an annual basis to 1939 when the war forced a break in the proceedings and it was not until 1949 that a full carnival was staged again.
Fire breaks out at the Illuminated Carnival 1960
The Carnival of 1960 was led as usual by Archie Warren astride his grey mare Freda, who had 12 carnival parades to her credit. This was despite the fact that Archie had been involved in a riding accident on Ryde Sands only five weeks previously. However an unusual event caused it to be remembered more than most, as the @pre-hysteric Era’ float entered by Warner’s Puckpool Holiday Camp and peopled by holiday makers,caught fire on its way along Melville Street, resulting in two cave men being hospitalised.
Warner’s had two entries in this year’s procession – the aforementioned featuring a 60 foot long dinosaur, with a cave on a following float, and a ‘South Pacific’ entry, from the St. Clare’s camp. Both entries won a cup – the Puckpool entry won the Percy Cup as the tableau, and St. Clare’s won the Walls Cup for best holiday camp float. That float comprised a 30 foot US sailor with numerous characters from the film and stage musical.
The Puckpool dinosaur was made of wood, hardboard and canvas, “with a sponge bath mat tongue hanging from gaping jaws”, according to the Isle of Wight Times of 8 September 1960. A number of happy campers had had an unusual addition to their holiday, by screaming into beer mugs, which was then recorded to provide the roaring sound effects for this procession. The neck and head of the beast moved independently, and 400 holiday makers were persuaded to accompany the animal on its way through Ryde.
On reaching Melville Street, flames suddenly swept through the dry foliage covering the cave, and setting alight the clothing of the competitors. Their screams alerted the driver, who stopped the lorry and tackled the fire with an extinguisher, whilst onlookers pulled burning debris from the float. Two camp staff, Peter Benn and Neil Henrickson were detained at the County Hospital with burns.
This was to be one of the last years that all the holiday camps entered floats in the carnival processions, a traditional which finally ended in about 1966, but not before King Kong made an appearance in1963. The tallest float in the procession was the monster “great black ape-like creature glaring down on the crowds, arms outstretched” entered by Warner’s Woodside Bay camp.
Having survived the main procession without mishap, and enthralling the crowds, King Kong was scheduled to take part in Saturday’s Illuminated procession but “the central character lost his head and was unable to appear -en route with dozens of “Flintstones” cavemen and women, the gorilla was decapitated by an overhanging tree branch”. ‘Surgery’ was attempted without success and the float was forced to withdraw and return to camp.
1966 saw the police help out on “Heartbreak Day” . Having already had a through soaking in the main Thursday procession, many children returned the following day for their own Children’s parade. For the first time the assembly point was moved from Partlands to Dover Street which turned out to be more of a blessing than anyone could imagine. Just as the procession was about to move off on its new shorter route, ” a thundercloud burst. Hopes and costumes sagged… And already there were tears among the toddlers as the rain pelted down”. The judging was to have taken place in the open recreation ground. The police came to the rescue and cleared a route direct through the shopping centre to the Town Hall, “turning an official blind eye to the usually strictly enforced one-way traffic system”. The children were able to get quickly under cover but many disappointed faces surveyed the wreckage of their costumes. The carnival spirit returned quickly when it was announced everyone would get a prize.
1968 saw not only the 80th anniversary of the carnival but also Ryde Borough Centenary. . The first tableau in the procession was Ryde Queen’s floral ‘Gondola’ designed by borough Surveyor, William Rowbotham, and completed just before the procession by the borough gardeners. There were some 10,000 blooms used with the figure ’100′ picked out in Helianthus in two foot high letters at the centre and French Marigolds depicting the borough crest at the rear. Dahlias, Begonias, Esther Reeds and potted plants all from the Corporation nurseries made up the display.
The Isle of Wight County Press on 14 September, reported; “In the borough centenary year, Ryde carnival established two records. Both the children’s procession on Friday week , and the illuminated procession on Saturday had more entries than ever before. Favoured throughout by quiet weather with no rain, all three processions and outstanding displays at the arena made the 1968 carnival one to remember”.