They weren’t called the Roaring 20s for nothing!

The Blackpool Carnival Week 1923

The Blackpool Carnival Week 1923

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As these pictures show, the 1920s truly were the decade of partying, of celebration after the misery, and then recovery, of the First World War.

And Blackpool certainly got into the spirit of things, with an entire week of carnival, in June 1923.

Blackpool Carnival Week 1923 Talbeaux in the procession, bathing girl and dragon

Blackpool Carnival Week 1923 Talbeaux in the procession, bathing girl and dragon

These delightful photos were discovered in a specially-produced souvenir booklet, published by The Gazette and Herald at the time which captured all the scenes, colour and revelry from each day.

Memory Lane readers Margaret and Steve Preston, of Bispham, were kind enough to share it.

The event was so huge it saw pretty much every local resident take part, and spectators came from across Lancashire and beyond to join in the fun.

The Gazette reported 60 special trains had been laid on to bring the hundreds of thousands of visitors into town, along with scores of ordinary trains.

King Carnival at the start of the floral pageant

King Carnival at the start of the floral pageant

The Gazette stated: “Nearly every car, every coach, was decked out with balloons or bunting, streamers or flowers.

“The scenes in Blackpool almost beggared description.”

Thousands of people in vivid costume took to the streets for the bright processions and pageants and “everywhere was comradeship.”

It seems no one in Blackpool got much work done during the week of June 9 to 16, and children did not do much in school.

Trades tableaux on North Promenade, looking south from the Carlton Hotel

Trades tableaux on North Promenade, looking south from the Carlton Hotel

Some striking effort and time had gone into designing and making the floats and costumes.

The first day began with the opening of the new open air swimming baths, near South Promenade, which The Gazette described as “confidently believed to be the finest structure of its kind in the world.”

The Carnival King was popular clown Doodles and his Queen was Lancashire comedian Fred Walmsley.

There were carnival girls, jesters, Spaniards, Indians, gypsies and clowns – “the spirit of carnival was in the air and no one could resist it.”

When the King’s plane landed at the water’s edge on the beach, it was caught by a gust of strong wind, causing it to “turn turtle” and end up upside down. Luckily no one was hurt.

The king was welcomed at the town hall, in front of a crowded square by the Mayor, Coun Harry Brooks.

The second day saw a crowd of more than 150,000 – the “biggest that had ever assembled on Blackpool Promenade.”

The procession was led by the mounted police, followed by the Mayor’s coach, then Dick Turpin on Black Bess, the carnival girls and King and Queen Carnival, revellers, Princess Charming and tableaux designed by artists from Nice, as well as jazz bands.

The third day saw the battle of flowers, and hundreds of beautifully-decorated vehicles.

“There were gardens on pneumatic tyres” and the air “was thick with twirling paper petals”.

It was the turn of the trades processions on the fourth day – which saw a procession of well over three miles in length and 300 or so vehicles – including a full-sized model of the famous Rocket locomotive. It took more than an hour-and-a-half to pass Talbot Square.

The Gazette described it as a “marvel of masterly organisation” and said “it was commerce transformed by carnival.”

Children’s day took place on day five, with 4,000 youngsters in the parade: “The greatest juvenile fancy dress assembly Blackpool has ever seen.”

Among the magnificent scenes on the tableaux were Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.

The sixth day saw the longest procession of the week – a grand four miles from start to finish.

It was described by The Gazette as the “most varied and liveliest” and included many of the features of the previous days.

There were 16 bands and close to 5,000 people in the procession.

Neighbouring towns sent floats to join in the fun and Morris dancers provided entertainment.

A hearty reception was given to the Dick Kerr’s Lady Footballers, from Preston, who had been champions for the past six years.

“All the afternoon the Promenade was gay with brightly-coloured characters.”

There was also plenty going on during the evening, with revellers lining the Promenade once again and the appearance of several bands who played music at various points.

The closing day of the carnival, the climax, saw “a glad scene which almost defied description.”

The Gazette wrote: “All the triumphs of the earlier days – six days of pageants, crowds and revels – were piled together to make one great final day of carnival jubilation.”

It began with a series of motor races, from Queens Drive to Bispham.

Thousands of spectators lined the embankment on the west side of the track to watch famous motorists and crack motor cyclists compete on a half mile course from a standing start, reaching speeds of up to 90mph.

There was a three-mile final carnival pageant and at night, the carnival masquerade.

The Gazette said: “From end-to-end the Promenade, from the edge of the sea wall to the house on the other side of the road, was one dense, slowly moving throng”.

There was confetti, streamers, “all was gaiety” and “carnival held sway like never before.”

To mark the end of the event, the carnival king’s effigy was burned after a triumphal march along the Promenade.