1968: The year one Carnival Queen was a man

Picture by Peter Sweet SUS-140620-134822001
Picture by Peter Sweet SUS-140620-134822001

The mystery of the strangest carnival float ever to trundle through Crawley has been solved.

The colour picture was taken by Derrick Jones, of Furnace Green, at Crawley Carnival in 1968.

No Caption ABCDE NNL-140513-095907001

No Caption ABCDE NNL-140513-095907001

It shows a banner which reads: “RIP chairman of Crawley Council” along with a vicar, two judges with their necks in nooses and – bizarrely – two women holding rounders bats and one holding a gun.

Derrick had no clue as to what was going on, but one Observer reader has shed some light on matters.

Peter Sweet, of Tilgate, provided this black and white picture of the float in its entirety.

Peter said the float was a “send-up” of the usual offerings in which he was dressed as an alternative Carnival Queen with three of his mates, dressed in orange tutus, who played his attendants.

As you can see from the picture, they all looked absolutely gorgeous!

Peter, who was 20 years old at the time, was a member of a youth club in Northgate, along with his brother, Bob, who was 18.

He said: “We had a theatrical group in the youth club and we used to put on shows, so we were used to dressing up and playing the fool.”

As for the people on the float, Peter said the person who was dressed as the chairman of the council was about to be “shot” by the two girls dressed as gangsters’ molls – who he named as Maureen Atkins and Sue Joyce.

Bob was the judge in the full suit who was being “hanged”, The hangman was Colin Martin and the vicar was Derek Chance.

Peter said the team won the Bateman Cup that year for the most original float.

Are any of Peter’s cohorts still in Crawley?