Hard to believe, 100 years of carnival and all for and with Tenby’s Firefighters! On 7th August, the annual carnival will again take over the town’s streets with ever enthusiastic walkers, dancers and musicians on and off a convoy of floats, including, of course, the town’s fire crews and engines. No doubt the event will be something very special this year.
Complementing the normal Carnival and peripheral activity on the Wednesday, anniversary celebrations this year include a screening of the classic firefighters’ film Backdraft, in the fire station on Monday 5th August. This collaboration with Rooms With A View, Tenby’s community film initiative featuring site specific presentations, will also feature the episode of London’s Burning, the TV series, which was filmed on location in Tenby (the firefighters were attending a national conference).
On Thursday 8th August, Tenby Choir are performing in an open air concert on the harbour.
And on Friday 9th August there will be a launch in Tenby Museum & Art Gallery of a commemorative book written by Tenby Firefighter Lee Simmons. “It was about three years ago on a regular wet carnival day I was down on Tenby Harbour doing the presentation, handing out the prizes …. And it was apparent to me that the crowds of participants were exceptional, so many different costumes, vibrant colours, lots of regular faces spotted amongst the crowds gathering. I was amazed to see so many people standing in the rain awaiting the prize giving and I turned to my colleagues and said: “look at the amount of people here standing in the rain”; we wondered how many years these families going back generations have come along and dressed up for the occasion.
“From there it began: I started to research my curiosity starting down in the (Tenby) Observer Offices researching through their microfiche; many many hours later going off on a tangent reading other stories, I tracked down that a carnival formed in 1919 after WW1 to lift the spirits of the town a local group named the YMCA arranged & organised a carnival procession leaving from Tenby Train station on a Wednesday when shops closed half day. Knowing the locals could support that evening it became an annual event and from there it shaped the start of what is now a sought after calendar summer event. Leading on from this it was not till 1923 that the local Fire Service then needed funds to buy equipment for their new appliance that they had recently purchased.
“Funds were not readily available on the back of the war so the local council decided at the time that if the Fire Service take on the organisation of this event than any funds raised would pay for equipment! People had to pay to watch the carnival presentation back then and a dance/ball would round off the evening, I believe held in the De Valence.”