OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Cirencester Carnival - Smashing !
For many years - and certainly within living memory, the Carnival was the main annual event in Ciren. First established by the Friendly societies around 1898 it came to an end in 1994. This remained so until 1947 when the name “Cirencester Hospital Carnival’ was dropped for simply “Cirencester Carnival”. The main reason for this appears to have been financial difficulties in keeping the Carnival afloat. The Committee reports from 1946 report apathy from the public who felt aggregated at paying entrance fees to the Carnival and contributing towards the Hospital when they were already paying 7/6 a week to the National Health service. It simply wasn’t enough anymore to to have attractions such as a man diving 60 feet into a wet sponge (date) or “slyest looking mongrel “ competition; what was needed were events that the public could sign up for and foster their continual interest in the Carnival. Lots of different events were started - events such as pram races; conduct-a-band competitions, tug of war across the Abbey lake and as time went on; in the 1960’s - the smash a piano competition. It’s hard to imagine and perhaps for younger readers impossible to understand, how smashing up a musical instrument could be so popular. But it was hugely popular in the 1960’s and unusually, a craze that was passed to the USA (rather than the other way around.) At one time the Guinness Book of Records had a record for the fastest time to destroy an upright piano with sledgehammers and pass the parts through a 9-inch diameter hole. If you are wondering; the fastest time was 1 minute 34 seconds in 2010. Guineas retired the record after complaints were made about “wasteful destruction of valuable property”; pianos having become valuable again. I’ve often wondered how pianos came to be regarded as worthless in the 1960s but perhaps it was because with the adoption of central heating in many homes many piano frames warped and the instrument became useless. Maybe it was the greater time spent watching TV Back then. II think it might have been a combination, but also that for teenagers whoes idols and hero’s in the 1960’s were playing guitars and drum kits; pianos were no longer “cool” or as we “hipsters” said back in the day pianos were “Square” .