Memories of Stirchley Carnival

Cover of 1936 Stirchley Carnival programme – held as Birmingham Archive (EP 107/17/7).

Stirchley Carnival was held annually in the 1920s and 1930s, with the last carnival in 1939, and then a few carnivals were held in the 1980s.

In the 1980s oral histories were taken from local residents, including Mr. and Mrs. Fisher who recalled the carnival. It was also at the 1937 carnival fair that the couple first met.

“The carnival procession would start from Cotteridge Park and go down Franklin Road and Mary Vale Road to the Pershore Road. The Procession would be a band, some floats and another band, the floats separating the bands. Everyone would join in, the children walking with the bands and playing Razookas – those sorts of whistles you blow with paper trumpets that uncurl”.

“The bands would assemble on the fields at the bottom of Umberslade Road by Ribblesdale Road where the allotments are now. The bands would play a set test piece and compete against each other. The costumes and formation of the bands were part of the set piece”.

There was also a carnival fair: “It was a Pat Collins fair and had roundabout horses, dodgems, swingboats, a moving cakewalk and sideshows like hoopla and shove halfpenny. The shove halfpenny was a wooden board with a slot set in it at an angle. You slid the halfpenny down the slot and it rolled onto one of the squares. It it landed on a prize square you got a prize. It wasn’t a goldfish. In those days you got given a goldfish from the rag and bone man in exchange for a bundle of rags”.

1939 Stirchley Carnival programme – held at Birmingham Archive.
A programme cover from 1988.

You can see some of the 1980s programmes on the Stirchley News website: