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Silloth carnival began in the early twentieth century. We do not know exactly when but the earliest photographs appear to be in the late 1920s or early '30s.
Early Silloth Carnival Early Silloth Carnival
Pictures in Eden Street, Esk Street and Skinburness Road from early carnival days.
Early Silloth Carnival Early Silloth Carnival
Mr & Mrs Bell, Silloth, own these photographs and have kindly allowed us to take copies.
The carnival was suspended during the Second World War and was resurrected in 1946 when the Carnival Queen was Connie Longcake, seen below. She was crowned by Mrs Ridgeway, wife of Reverend Ridgeway. Two of the young boys in the photograph are George Tinnion and Lawrence Marshall, both still live in Silloth.
1946 Carnival Queen 1946 Crowning Ceremony
Mrs Brisco was the main organiser of the carnival during this period. She was very particular about the costumes that were worn. She had a bakery shop in Solway Street near to the cinema, which is now the Spar shop.
1949 'Easter Parade' Float
In this shot from the 1949 carnival, the girl in the bonnet on the left is Ann Cavaghan and sitting in front of her is Frances Dixon.

In the 1950s, carnival events lasted all week and included Cumberland and Westmoreland wrestling, sports events, beach-girl competition, sand castle building, cycle racing and putting–green competitions. Trains from Carlisle brought many people to the events. The 1953 carnival was cancelled because of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation festivities.

There was a gap between 1960 and 1970 and then the Silloth Round Table began a sports day on a Saturday in August. After two years this was changed to a full carnival held on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Brylcream boy Carnival Queen
Two more pictures from the early post-war years. The boy on the left is Lawrence Carr and the Carnival Queen is Connie Longcake. 

During the 1980s and 1990s, a popular event was the Juvenile Jazz Bands such as Blyth Hearts, Deerness Valley Golden Eagles and Cramlington from the North East, and the Kendalions from South Cumbria. As well as marching in the parade, they gave an excellent display on the green. They were all judged for marching, display and dress turnout. The competition was fierce.

Jazz band on the green
Juvenile Jazz Band Silloth Carnival 1991, on the green.

The Round Table handed over to a Carnival Committee in the 1980s and it has stayed that way. Through out the year the committee organise many money-raising events such as dances, quizzes, and sponsored walks.

As part of the carnival the shop windows are judged, having been given a display theme. Also the house frontages and their front gardens along the route of the carnival are judged. Outside judges are required for this sensitive issue.

Each year there is a main attraction and over recent years we have had skydivers, a WWII Dakota and a RAF marching band!

The Silloth R.N.L.I. put on an Air-Sea rescue display off the promenade, which is always popular. Regular events on Carnival Day now include children’s sports, Cumberland & Westmoreland wrestling and of course donkey rides, which have always been connected with Silloth. There is also the important crowning of the new Carnival Queen ceremony on the green and a rose competition organised by Christ church.

Head of Carnival Parade 
Silloth Carnival 1994 , led by the Mayor of Silloth, Mr L Marshall with Mrs Marshall, Councillor and Mrs Hulley, and Dearham Brass Band following.

For many years Dearham Brass Band has led the parade with other bands flowing at intervals in the parade.

A lot of time and effort is put in by family and friends of the Carnival Queens and their attendants as well as the organising committee with their friends. Silloth carnival is a well-established and popular event in Silloth’s social calendar. Long may it continue.

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Research and text by Lawrence Marshall

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Silloth Carnival