Let the rain stop the 1981 carnival? Not a chance!

When Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer wed in July 1981, we all knew it would be a splendid affair. The only thing which could possibly have spoiled it was the weather.


It was, after all, the height of summer, so the chances are it would rain.

We needn’t have worried, though, as every drop of rain being stored up by those treacherous clouds had been dropped on Crawley six weeks earlier.

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Or at least, that’s how it felt.


It had been carnival day and a host of fun events had been planned – and promptly washed out.

Take the novelty dog show, for example. That would have been fun. But with West Green playing field waterlogged, the poor pooches never found out which one of them had the friendliest, waggiest tail or which one had the loudest bark.

The six which braved the rain were all given prizes simply for showing up – including Haggis, who belonged to Alexander and Oliver Cruickshank.

The gymnastics and karate also got the chop, as did the sheepdog demonstration.


But the day was not a total loss as the parade itself went ahead as planned. And it was an absolute cracker.

The theme was nursery rhymes and fairytales and 27 floats rose to the occasion. The title ‘floats’ was quite apt as the playing field was so soggy they may have had to live up to their name. Instead, the carnival was moved to the car park behind the bus station – where County Mall now stands.

So the parade wound its way round the town centre before returning to its starting point. Among those who took part were a team from Crawley Audio News, who came first in the charities class with their Wizard of Oz float.

Then there were the members of Crawley Ladies Circle and Round Table who were a rather soggy Snow White and her seven dwarves, and Crawley Council’s play leadership group won the youth organisation class with their float depicting the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.


The prize for best comic float went to Crawley Judo Club, who used around 30 of their smaller members to make up the body of an extremely long Chinese dragon.

The Crawley Newtowners stoolball club won the adult organisation class as Four and Twenty Blackbirds, and the over all winners were builders Wimpey, with The Cinderella Story.

The fancy dress contest was won by Pamela Chappell, who came as Little Miss Muffet, complete with a large but friendly spider. Janine Larking took second prize as the Pied Piper.

While people would have been forgiven for choosing to stay at home and shelter from the downpour, the carnival still attracted a decent crowd.


Ray Reynolds, who was president of the Crawley Lions, told the Observer: “I’m amazed. The people of Crawley are marvellous. Where else would you get people to come out on a day like this?”

We’re made of stern stuff, Mr Reynolds!

Does anyone recognise any of the people in these photos?

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