These fantastic pictures give us a taste of the weird and wonderful world of Crawley Carnival from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
They belong to Vanessa Kirby, of Bewbush, and show a couple of the floats entered in the Carnival by local firm APV.
The first float shows staff members dressed as characters from The Clangers – a children’s programme that has gone on to attain cult status and something of a revival.
It shows several Clangers, a couple of Soup Dragons and a gaggle of Froglets.
Although it may be hard to identify those in the costumes, Vanessa is pretty sure she was the middle Froglet.
The second picture shows the Bangers and Mash theme – Vanessa is the mashed potato in the middle.
Recalling the days she dressed up as dinner, Vanessa said: “Crawley has always had brilliant community spirit. In the 1960s to the 1970s, APV was the firm everyone wanted to work for. A large family firm run by the Seligman family employed many Crawley people and their family members too. It was a family affair!
“I started working in the typing pool in 1965, straight from leaving school at age 16, and left in 1976 to have my first child. APV had a thriving social club at Jordans (now the Toby Carvery in London Road). It was a very male-dominated club and I was soon voted on as the first female member of the committee.
“I was somehow elected to put a float together every year for the Crawley Carnival. I was given a small amount of money and, with the help of Liz from the accounts department, we managed to persuade some apprentices and office workers to be dressed up (free drinks supplied) and assured them that they would not be recognised!
“I didn’t know much about environmental issues then but I made all the costumes out of cardboard and paper and old sheets. I wanted to do something that will make people laugh and decided that the funniest thing I could think of dressing people up as was ‘bangers and mash’.
“The sausage outfits were made of brown paper sacks and were made as ‘one size fits all’. It took three months of hard work to get everything to come together.
“On the day, volunteers cam in all shapes and sizes so I just taped them into their costumes.
“The apprentices had made a large saucepan, big enough for four people dressed like mashed potato to stand in. It was later taken home by some one to use as a garden pond.
“I made each mash costume with old sheets and sewed 500 tissue flowers on each. I had everyone in the office making paper flowers in their lunch hour to help.
“I even made strings of sausages out of old tights stuffed with screwed up newspaper – probably old Crawley Observers.
“On the day, we pumped up 500 balloons to give out to the kids as we went along and, just as we were leaving APV, a gust of wind caught them and they all floated away like a large cloud.
“The lorry driver was a volunteer too and he drove slowly and carefully to the train station car park – now Crawley bus station – with no casualties. There were no health and safety rules then – we just all held on tight!
“Sounds like a bit of a mess but we all had a great time and ended up coming first in our category and winning the cup.”
The Whitsun Carnival parade is, sadly, a thing of the past for Crawley but there must be a million pictures and stories out there from the people who took part.
Can anyone remember creating a more wacky float than the ones put together by APV?
Has anyone dressed up in a stranger costume that Vanessa and her mashed potato?
Let us know – and if you have pictures, all the better!
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