A History

The Wootton Bassett Carnival was born back in 1972. Below is the first notice by John Franklin, secretary to the carnival committee.

Wootton Bassett Carnival. What does it mean? What is going on? What is all this talk about a Carnival in the town? Let me give you the facts as they stand at the present and express the hope for the future.

Wootton Bassett Carnival Committee was formed over a year ago, because it was felt that the town would support a carnival and other events of a like nature. This small committee proceeded to find out all details appertaining to the staffing of a grand parade, cost of bands, advertising and so on. After many meetings, enquiries, correspondence, interviews and conversations, etc., an approximate cost was arrived at. The figure was between £250 and £300. The next problem was the date. Eventually this became May 20th to May 27th 1972. Now, in their wisdom, the Committee have decided that all expenses required should be raised before the Carnival date. This is necessary so that, on the carnival day, there can be a public street collection, the proceeds of which will then be donated to a worthwhile cause in the locality. It must be understood that the Carnival Committee will decide where any monies will go.

Now, having got this far, things are taking a different course. As I have previously said, we have had many conversations with many people. Over the course of months, it has become abundantly clear to us that people generally think that Wootton Bassett is slipping into a gradual decline. Beginning with the loss of out Members of Parliament, the finishing of the old street market, the end of The Close, the loss of out railway stations and now finally our Show Field is being built on! It seems to many people that it is just a matter of time before we become a dormitory of Swindon and yet those same people decry this. They wish to retain their separate identity, their being Wootton Bassettonians!

We think we may have an answer to this. We think that we can create a new identity for Wootton Bassett. Aldeburgh has its Music Festival, Bath has its Festival and many towns have their own Festivals of like nature. Can we not create, in Wilshire at least, an identity in Wootton Bassett of a cultural nature? Can we not make Wiltshire people think that Wootton Bassett is a town which cares? Our Carnival programme is being built up with not only events of a Carnival spirit, but interspaced with cultural events such as drama, music, dancing, art, handicrafts and so on. All these things can only be possible with the participation of all members of the local community. Man organisations in the town have expressed their interest, but we would like to reach out to everyone who feels that they can contribute towards this Festival of Wootton Bassett.

If in any way this idea of ours appeals to you and you feel you would like to share in its inception, please contact any Committee member. Who knows, the future generation of Wootton Bassett may thank us because we have taken the time to look around us and see what is happening at the present time.

John Franklin
Secretary, Carnival Committee

Carnival letter from 1971