A look back at Adlington Carnival

1989'Little Morris Dancers take part in the Adlington Carnival parade
1989'Little Morris Dancers take part in the Adlington Carnival parade
Share this article

A Chorley historian, saddened by the news that Adlington Carnival is under threat, has sent in some information and photos from its past.

The Guardian reported that due to lack of funding and support in organising the event this year, the famous parade hasn’t been planned yet.

Stuart Clewlow said: “It was a shame to read the article the other week that once again, its existence is in doubt.”

He’s gathered some information about its history, and highlighted the importance of the carnival to the community:

The first Adlington and District Carnival of a fashion in its current format, was held in 1972.

This was after Adlington Urban District Council and the Adlington Chamber of Trade came together to form a committee to run a village gala.

However, a carnival or gala-type festival had been held in Adlington for many years before this. It was these previous events that formed inspiration and the basis for the intention of what an ‘Adlington and District Carnival’ would be all about.

It is highly likely that the origins of the carnival can be traced back to an association of Adlington World War One veterans.

Arthur Harper, my great grandfather, a Royal Navy veteran of the First and Second World Wars, was a founder member of the Adlington Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Association and their club house was opened in July 1921.

They provided a meeting place for veterans of the conflict and were involved in fundraising activities with the proceeds going not just towards veterans who had fallen on hard times, but also struggling families of those servicemen who had not returned home.

The Association evolved into Adlington British Legion in 1927, a branch of the nationally recognised charity.

Concurrently, the Adlington construction company Leonard Fairclough Ltd, established an irregularly organised festival or gala-type event.

It may not be a coincidence that the afore mentioned Arthur Harper worked for Leonard Fairclough and was related to him by marriage.

It seems likely that both the British Legion and Leonard Fairclough events had fallen in popularity or had perhaps become difficult to arrange or coordinate. This suggestion comes from the Chorley Guardian obituary of Arthur Harper, who died in August 1979, age 85.

By this stage he had held the positions of Mayor of Adlington, Independent town councillor, Adlington Cricket Club Secretary, Officer of St John Ambulance Brigade, and was also a JP.

The obituary included the comment: “He was instrumental in reviving the British Legion carnival which became the highly popular Adlington Carnival.”

Some of the earliest stars of the show included Eric Sykes in 1977, and Ken Dodd in 1980.

It would be a tragedy to the community spirit of Adlington and District if the Carnival becomes extinct.

In its current format it is 40 this year, but as an event for benefiting those in need and families in the community, it has been around for a lot longer.

- For all the pictures, see this week’s Guardian.