Joan White from Charnage was the first Carnival Queen for Mere in 1932. Her family still live in the area.
We then used to have an old fashioned carnival that started at the Recreation Ground. Many of the entries were “thrown together” at the last minute which added to the fun. The Brownies with whom I am Assistant Guider used Colin Read’s Homestead Farm to build and decorate their entry on the morning of the procession. The tractor was then washed after the day’s milking and farming and then used the same evening for the procession. The fair used to be at Angel Lane in the field next to the Vicarage and has since been held in the fields at the Meads and Manor Road.
The children’s fancy dress was always popular and this is still traditional in Mere. Decorated trolleys and prams were popular entries during past years. We used to attract a lot more Mere entries which have included The Mere 1982 gang – with many well known local families building their entries. These included “The Old Woman that lived in the shoe” , Cleopatra and “Teatime in Tokyo”, Walton’s of Mere, T.A.Y.S. which consisted of the Thorpe and Young families from Mere. Mere Brownies, Mere Guides, Mere Rangers, Mere Cubs and Scouts, Mere Cat Scarers, Merely Tipplers, Jeans Electrical, Lions Club of Gillingham Mere and Shaftesbury and their driving force for their entries from the late Ann Padfield (nee Tranter) and Tony Taylor driving their tractor for them. Local entries that still participate today include the Mere Girlguiding and Jeans Electrical.
The late David Chalke from F.J.Chalke Garages Mere brought the small lion cubs from Longleat to Mere in the 1960’s for the Carnival procession.
There is a lot of planning for the Mere committee; we have to start in February to book bands, judges and organise the grand draw and events to make sure things go smoothly. These include fundraising events such as the ever popular
Bingo and Quiz nights, which are organised by the carnival committee along with support from Mark and Sam Cassidy from the Walnut Tree Inn.
Previous events have included Pub pushes in prams and wheelbarrows, torchlight procession to Castle Hill with a bonfire on the top, barbecue and disco, pet show, Mere Manor brass concert, five a side football at Duchy Manor School, Castle Hill races from the Square, Baby Show, Arts and Crafts show, Carnival Quiz, children’s disco, Caribbean Ball, Walking Treasure Hunt, knockout skittles at Mere Social Club, children’s sports with Justus Hattam, ex. science teacher at Duchy Manor School, window spotting the odd item – in the late 50’s early 60’s there were a minimum of 22 shop windows taking part in Mere.