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Youngsters wore fancy dress for fetes and carnivals


Aug 9, 2022

Children have always loved dressing up, and Oxford Mail photographers have captured many in odd and amusing regalia over the years.

For many of them, it was a case of persuading mum to create something as eye-catching as possible to impress the judges and earn themselves a decent prize.

We know little about Picture 1, but what a wonderful array of hats and outfits in this fancy dress parade.

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All we know is that it was taken in 1955 at SS Mary and John fete, presumably in East Oxford.

The Mail photographer wrote that it was a “group of fancy dress competitors”, earning a ticking off from news editor Ralph Brain, who added to the caption: “Where was the fete?”

We still don’t know, but no doubt readers will be able to tell us – and perhaps even identify themselves or others from those far-gone days. But what a wonderful group they make!

Oxford Mail:

Picture 2 shows fancy dress contest winner Suzanne Perry, left, as Aunt Sally and runners-up Alan Brough (centre) and Amanda Perry.

They were chosen as the best dressed children at the New Coronet cinema at Didcot in 1982.

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The cinema had restarted Saturday morning shows for youngsters, including cartoons, adventures and serials, and hoped the fancy dress competition would attract a large audience.

However, just 37 children turned up, many in ordinary clothes, giving Suzanne, Alan and Amanda an easy passage to the fancy dress prizes.

Oxford Mail:

The mayor of Oxford, Alderman William Walker, is seen in Picture 3 with one of the fancy dress competitors at the St Barnabas gala in Jericho, Oxford, in 1952.

He is admiring Marian Rawlings as Lady Godiva. Among other competitors that day was Colin Winfield, aged one year and 10 months, dressed as Wee Willie Winkie.

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An Arab sheik, a Cockney flower-seller, a pirate and a mini clown were among those in the fancy dress parade at Sandford-on-Thames carnival in 1981.

Oxford Mail:

Some of those who took part are seen in Picture 4 processing through the village to the recreation ground.

Oxford Mail:

Picture 5 shows one of the floats in Witney Carnival procession in 1999.

Oxford Mail:

While in Picture 6, we see children who attended a fancy dress day at Seedlings nursery, Wantage in 1996.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF