Tales From The Hanwell Carnival

Viv Ellis fill us in on the organisation of this year's event

Related Links



Sign up for our free newsletter

Comment on this story on the m

Episode 1

Hanwell Carnival takes place in June every year (third Saturday). But the preparation and planning go on all year round. There are sponsors to try to find (still looking), ways to try to raise funding, and ideas for the next year. It’s a never-ending task. Enjoyable though.

If you don't know, Hanwell is believed to be the oldest continuous carnival in London. It started originally in 1898 to raise money for the Cottage Hospital. It faded out (as did so many others) during World War 2 – but was given the kiss of life in 1961 by Billy Smart (he of the Circus) and it’s been going from strength to strength ever since. A lot of people don't realize that it’s organised entirely by volunteers – it is completely separate from any events that Ealiing Council hold. We all get on well though, and they help is out in lots of ways.

Anyway, now that we’re in the New Year, things have moved up a gear.

The procession takes a humungous amount of work. The theme for 2015 is “Historic Hanwell” and our art workshops are underway where we plan and then make costumes, banners and float decorations.

Last year’s procession was ace. Thirty community groups and 4 schools took part. Of course, many make their own costumes (thank Heavens, we couldn't do them all!) but the main trailers are being decorated by the team.

There are loads of possible stories for Hanwell. People who lived here, died here, worked here invented things here. Loads of great stories, but the procession has to be VISUAL and working out how to select which stories to include falls to our Art Director, Andrea Jones, who studied illustration at Harrow and St Martins and who has done an incredible design job on the procession in recent years.

“I eat, sleep and breathe the procession while I am thinking of ideas for it, it’s never ending”

The workshops take place at Hanwell Community Centre – who not only give us a room and don't mind how much mess we make (as long as we vacuum afterwards), but also help by letting us store some stuff there. Even estate agents have been supporting us by donating (often unknowingly!) ‘for sale’ boards. They are made of brilliant material called ‘corex’ which is light and incredibly tough.

Anyway, we’ve all been skip diving, going through peoples’ bins, stalking the streets in our dressing gowns on ‘recycling days and collecting useful stuff. Egg cartons and trays (great for paper mache) loo roll middles (and those bigger ones from kitchen foil etc) plastic lids, and, surprisingly, plastic carrier bags. They may be a scourge for the nation’s wildlife and pollution but they are incredibly useful for us. More of that later.

Apart from Notting Hill (which raises money differently) very few carnivals have a procession with trailers these days. The reason? Insurance. You gotta have it but, boy does it cost. We have to persuade local firms that it’s well worth their while to help us out because they get loads of publicity out of it. We have five trailers promised so far – but we would still like more, so if you are or know a company with a trailer you could lend us for the day please get in touch. And should you, dear reader, be a person of influence with an insurance company – pick up the tab will you? As well as “doing your bit” for a truly great community event you’ll get loads of marketing and publicity out of it.

Andrea and the team have settled on the design for the main trailers so work has begun. It’s all top secret at the moment though. But we need as much help as we can get. You don’t need any special skills. Even if you can only spare a couple of hours you can help. Plus, if it’s more convenient, we can give you materials and instructions so you can complete small things at home or in a club or at school.

For instance, the aforementioned plastic carrier bags. You know, we all dispose/recycle scores of them every month. Thanks to Andrea’s vision and practical know how, this is how we use them.

1. Collated into colour groups, we cut off the handles.

2. These handles are then tied to wire and later “fluffed up” so they look like flowers.

3. The bags are stapled to card and the plastic cut into strips that look like Hula skirts.

Both of these will go onto lorries and trailers and decoration.

How cool is that? And the cost is £0.

We will soon need the help of a chippie or two to help us prepare the more complex trailers. Nothing drastic but you’ll need to be able to saw things and drill things. In 2014 we created a replica of the Community Centre on the back of a lorry, it also went on display in the park and it’s now been given to the Community Centre. If that’s your skillset – get in touch!

If you fancy helping – and you are welcome to bring children – the workshops are from 1-5pm at Hanwell Community Centre, Westcott Crescent, Hanwell, London W7 1PD. It’s all dead friendly, we call the sessions “Fun with Glue and Glitter”

The dates are:

Feb 21st, March 7th & 21st. April 11th & 25th, May 9th,16th & 30th. June 6th& 13th.

For more info about the art workshops, or generous offers to insure the event, or sponsor all or part of the day here are the details ;)


Facebook/Hanwell Carnival



3rd February 2015