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John Meads 2010

Carnivals, Galas and Fun Days

Ladies of National Importance - an entry in a WWI Hospital parade Gala Parade group from Coles Boot Co. in the 1950s
These ladies are emphasising the important work
being done by women while the men are away
in a Hospital Parade during the First World War.
This group, posing with a barrel-organ in Duke Street in
the 1950s, is thought to be from the Coles Boot Company

Going back as far as anyone can remember mankind has used any excuse to have fun, make merry and generally enjoy itself. The excuse could be a celebration of harvests, births, marriages or deaths, victory in sport or war or as a means of getting people together to raise funds for a good cause and have a good time in the process. In general, the events recalled in these pages fall into the latter category.

There are many examples of Burton Latimer’s chapels and churches holding fundraising events over the years and they also held Sunday School parades and Feast Day parades, both as separate events or as inter-denominational events. With the building of Kettering Hospital in the late 1890s many subsequent events were devoted to raising funds to support it with Burton Latimer holding its first Hospital Parade in 1913. These continued during the First World War, augmented by parades aimed at raising money for the war effort or the Red Cross. Hospital Committees made sure that Hospital Parades continued after the war and it was in 1934 that Burton Latimer began to elect a Queen to lead the parade through the town and act as a focus at the activities at the Recreation Ground afterwards. Also, for many years Burton Latimer Co-operative Society held a children’s parade and fun-day but this did not re-appear after the Second World War.

Where most other local towns and villages called their events carnivals, for many years it was the custom in Burton Latimer to refer to them as Gala Days - which can be confusing at times because there seems to be no difference between a Gala Day and a Carnival Day and you will see both terms used below.

According to the Evening Telegraph of Saturday April 28 1934, Burton’s first Hospital Gala Queen was Megan White “a pretty 20-years-old brunette” who was picked from nineteen candidates “all of whom were single” at a dance and whist drive in the Council School.

Article from Kettering Leader and Guardian 24 May 1935 In Burton Topics by ‘Simon Straight’


Who wants a nice big motor car, all for nothing?

If you do reader – as they say in the “personality with a punch” advertisements – then make sure to enter for the big competition on gala day.
Mr Jim Bennie
Mr Jim Bennie

The exact nature of the big prize on this day has not yet, I believe, been fixed, but I am assured that it will be one worthy of the occasion, and as one of the committee men remarked to me, “Who knows, it may even be a motor car?”

So that in the meantime we must hope that it will really be a car. Owing to the legislation governing competitions, the usual methods of raising funds have been somewhat curtailed, but the committee is active in other directions.

Boxing will be included in the programme, and Mr Bennie. a newcomer to the town, is kindly lending one of his fields on the main Kettering Road for the day.

Following the Second World War and the creation of the Health Service it was not considered necessary to raise funds for the hospitals and other town organisations became involved. A Charities Committee was set up and, generally speaking, the organisations that ran the day reaped the financial rewards. As with many such arrangements, strains began to appear between the organisers; there were periods when co-operation broke down altogether, too few people were willing to assist a few dedicated individuals and Gala Day ceased to take place after 1968.

It was resurrected in the mid-1970s when some new organisations became involved and it was now organised by the Blind Committee, Burton Latimer Scouts, Kettering and District Round Table and the Swimming Pool Trust. This arrangement continued until 1990 when it became clear that just a handful of enthusiastic people could not keep going if more help was not forthcoming from the town as a whole.

Perhaps it was inevitable – whereas between the 1930s and 1960s there were many local factories and businesses to lend support, by the 1990s most of them had disappeared. In addition there were Health and Safety issues and the threat of insurance claims had made most companies and businesses reluctant to get involved.

Two of the names that were synonymous with post-war galas were Alf Caffrey and then Jack Addis. Their enthusiasm and ability to persuade others to take part were responsible for the success of the galas. However, it would be true to say that there were times when some of the organisers did not see eye-to-eye and because much of the work of running Gala Day fell on fewer and fewer people there was a major split up and no parade took place after 1968 until 1975, after which the nature of the event changed and a Carnival Princess was chosen instead of a Gala Queen. This was run by the Combined Charities Committee, which comprised Kettering Round Table, the Swimming Pool Trust and the Blind Committee. Others took their place but there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm within the town which they were unable to overcome. There was brief revival at the time of the Queen’s Jubilee (1978) and the Millennium but it has now disappeared from the town’s calendar of events and it is difficult to see the likelihood of Burton’s Gala Day ever coming back again.

We have attempted to trace the names of all the young ladies that were chosen to be a Queen, Princess or Attendant over the years. They are listed below. Please contact us if we are wrong so that we can correct any mistakes that have been made or if you can fill in any of the blank spaces. Click here to see a photo gallery of Gala Queens and parade day events over the years. This gallery will be added to as time allows.

Burton Latimer Hospital Committee
Megan White
Phyllis Buckby 
Gwen Fox, Irene Cook. Audrey Mason
Irene Cook
Joan Buckby, Ruby Payne,
Sheila Daniels, Freda Coles
Audrey Mason
Flora Reed,   Mary Wright,
Eileen Spanton, May Evans, Jean Olerenshaw
Mary Wright
Gladys Conquest,
Kathleen Capps, May Evans, Jean Olerenshaw
Audrey Larratt
Phyllis Meadows (Deputy)
Maids of Honour - Gladys Conquest, Sylvia Conroy, Margaret Groom
Sylvia Conroy Clothing Trades Queen
Rosie Johnson
Other Trades Queen
Sylvia Johnson
Shoe & Leather Trades Queen
Mrs Margaret Giles
Mary Bugby
Brenda Whiteman
1941 Mrs Margaret Giles Mary Bugby Brenda Whiteman
There is evidence that gala parades were held after 1941 (see Wartime Hospital Parades) and there were other fund raising parades throughout the war years, however, it seems that the practice of chosing a Gala Queen was suspended until 1948
Burton Latimer Charities Committee Queens

Queen Attendant Attendant
Gloria Smart
Rhoda Eady
Betty Loak             
Dorothy Jones
Jean Cossey
June Tapp
Rosemary Blowfield
Margaret Mould
Margaret Strudwick
 Margaret Mould
 Sadie Williamson
Gillian Keightley
 No record of a Queen
probably due to it being
 Coronation year
Janet Moisey
Jean Irons
M Greenfield
June O'Neil
Lucy Whitelock
Frances Muir
Frances Muir
Jean Hull
Lucy Whitelock
Pauline Talbot
Angela Coleman
Margaret Thurlow
Sadie Williamson
Pat Johnson
Jennifer Smith
Pat Johnson
Jennifer Smith
Kay Jempson
Eileen Williamson
Christine Turner
Davina Cooper
Peggy Hull
Davina Cooper
Barbara Marlow
Barbara Ridgeway
Jane Beddoes
Lesley Betts
Diane Knighton
Diana Bailey
Wendy Millard
Marrianne Wright
Sheila Ellson
Barbara Yates
Eileen Moisey
Christine Benford
Teresa Randall
Kathy Benford
Carol Allen
Rita Barber
Yvonne Desborough
Carol Allen
Rita Barber
Yvonne Desborough
Lesley Gardner
Lesley Neville
Julie Randall
                                Combined Charities Queens/Princesses
Claire Clifton
 Gail Chester
Karen Osborne
Yvonne Skippen
Donna Elmore
Sharon Fordham
Amanda Smith
Elizabeth Neale
Joanne Allebone
Nicola Ellerby
Julie Nichols
Caroline Arthurs
Caroline Arthurs
Katie Smith
Nicola Page
Dawn Woolmer
Lucy Hullett
Anthea Smith
Tania Theobald
Louise Haynes
Laura Newcombe
Sarah Ellerby
Lisa Hull
Francine Miller
Rebecca Jempson
Debbie Swinburn
Emma Grant
Burton's first Gala Queen ceremony Burton's last crowning ceremony
1934 - The first Gala Queen crowning taking place at 'The
Poplars'. Megan White is reading her acceptance speech.
L-R: Phyllis Buckby, Gwen Fox, Mrs William Batty, Megan White,
Ethel Winkle and Cllr. A.G. Miller.
1989 - Cllr. Joan Griffiths, Chairman of Burton Latimer
Town Council crowns Rebecca Jempson. Rebecca's
attendants are Emma Grant and Debbie Swinburn.
This was the last time this ceremony was to take place.

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