July 24 2014 Latest news:
By Chris Bishop
Monday, May 26, 2014
Photo gallery: Thousands turned out in the sunshine for Downham Market Carnival today.
The event began just before 11am, when the parade of colourfully-decorated Bearts lorries and other floats left Heygates, by the Relief Channel.
After a brief pause for a passing train at the level crossing, the parade continued on its way up Bridge Street, led by a steel band and the Downham Heritage Society float.
Among the lorries were a number of vintage tractors, including a big red articulated Massey Ferguson driven by Newman Smith, who still farms around his home in Southery at the age of 83.
Mr Smith, who went to school in Downham, said he enjoyed taking part because he likes to look down and spot people he knows along the route.
By the time the parade reached the Clock Tower, the streets were lined with crowds.
The carnival got under way in earnest when the parade reached the Howdale, where there were fairground rides, stalls and refreshments.
Welcoming the crowds, Downham Mayor John Doyle said the town had come close to losing the carnival and the week-long festival which it forms the highlight of.
Launched forty years ago by the then Mayor Tinker Taylor to promote the town, the festival and parade were in danger of disappearing because just one person remained on the organising committee.
“The came Mark [Etherington] and Julie [Mills] who were determined to see the festival continue,” said Mr Doyle. “They gathered around them a small team and these people have done a fantastic job in getting the festival up and running again.
“It was a case that they had to learn as they went and thankfully, because they did, they have saved the festival for the town and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Downham festival runs all this week, with coffee mornings, cream teas and a cinema showing of Frozen at the Town Hall on Thursday night (7pm, tickets £5).
St Edmunds Church tower is open all day tomorrow and Friday, when there will be a family disco at the Town Hall during the evening (7pm, tickets £5 adult/£2.50 child).
Friday will also see a coffee morning at the Town Hall (8am-12 noon) and an afternoon cream tea at Southfields Community centre from 2-4pm.