With the 2014 Carnival season just ended, and thoughts of both World Wars uppermost in the National conscience, a chance find in an old magazine brought the 1949 Ryde Carnival to life.
The article began with a poem entitled: ‘Ryde Carnival 1888 – 1949’.
‘When Carnival conquered the Continent
He was suddenly seized with a great intent-
He said “I have triumphed in France and Spain,
“In Italy, too, and I’m winning the Dane,
“But Oh! it would be the pride of my rule
“Could I make the Englishman act like a fool.”
Now the Spirit of Carnival looks like an ass,
But it’s only the skin which he wears with his lass.
“Forward!” he cried – and bestrode the Ass;
“Praise be that the time has come to pass
“When Ryde shall lay down the golden rule
“That England is free to Act the Fool!”
The article continued: ‘The revival of Ryde Carnival this year will bring back many memories of the community, for Ryde, it will be remembered, was the first town in England to hold a Carnival – in 1888.
There will be few who remember the first carnivals with their gay costumes and clowning pedestrians – not so very unlike the present day shows but gayer, perhaps, with less accentuation on the prize-givings and a more care-free atmosphere.
Many, however, will remember the last carnival to take place in Ryde before the war – only 48 hours before the war to be precise – when the Pipe Band and the Royal Marines provided the music for the grand procession that encircled the town. Life was a little easier then, and some of the care-free spirit of the first carnival still remained, though the country was on the verge of a six years war.
The 1949 carnival did a lot to revive that spirit, and, although the town did not go quite as mad as it might have done, the spirit was there.
This year’s carnival was a credit to the organisers, who, in a very short time, produced something of the spirit of Ryde which all but a few thought was lost for ever. Next year we can look forward to something bigger and better, with, perhaps, even more gaiety and fun.’