A little History

Maldon Carnival and its procession are an important part of the tradition and character of the town. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that its origins started not in the streets, but on the water.

The town’s recreation ground – the ‘Promenade Park’ – has always been a major feature in its evolution. The former Swimming Lake in the park opened in 1905 and became an immediately popular attraction. The following year (1906) it was used as the venue for a Water Carnival, that included swimming competitions, diving, water polo and culminating in a firework display.

That early community event became the talk of the district and it grew, quickly expanding to include a land procession. In 1911 it was huge and incorporated a large military contingent from the Colchester barracks. After passing down High Street, the route usually ended at the Promenade bandstand for music, speeches, cups and awards.

Things have carried on in that time honoured way for decades. Throughout the 1930s, participants dressed as highwaymen to collect donations and for years members of the local Carr farming family led the procession in themed costumes and on horseback. Many of us grew up looking forward to this annual event, which has previously featured quite quirky things like a group called “The Big Heads”, old ‘Pump Adams’ dressed up as a pantomime dame and much more besides.

Along with a wide variety of floats, bands and not forgetting the Royal Court of Queen and her Princesses, our local Fire Brigade has also always turned out for the procession. The town’s old ‘pumper’ engine (now preserved and on display in the Maldon Museum) has appeared, along with more modern appliances and successive generations of Fire Personnel who have collected large amounts of donations for the Carnival’s charitable causes.

As well as the Grand Procession (which usually starts from Cross Road and Fambridge Road), the event has developed into a whole week of family fun, consisting of things like a Race Night, Darts Competition, Bingo, a Talent Show and much more besides. It is hoped that as many people as possible will continue to support this special community event and ensure that Maldon Carnival survives for many more decades to come.

Stephen P. Nunn