The Carnival first took place in 1960 to raise funds to build a youth centre. Geoff Goodworth and Max Steggles, members of the Woodley Venturers Youth Club, were its instigators.
In 1959 the Woodley Venturers Youth Club began its activities and a sub-committee was formed to explore the possibilities of the Venturers sponsoring a Carnival Day and Procession, with the proceeds going towards a Club Building with as many facilities as possible. The building was erected behind the Coronation Hall in 1964 and completed in 1965. Can you imagine what it must have meant to the people who had been in on the original idea? Not only a building, but a Carnival Day which turned into a Carnival Week with numerous organisations taking part and also benefiting from the generous donations which, over the first nine years, totalled several thousands of pounds from the people of Woodley.
In 1969 it was decided, as the Youth Club Building was completed and the club wished to be self-supporting, that in future the Carnival should be presented by the Woodley Carnival Committee and that the profits be shared amongst local good causes.
Woodley attained town status in 1974 and the annual Carnival remained at the heart of the community. The huge event with a week-long timetable of events culminating in the Carnival Day and Procession continued to raise money for local organisations.
In 2004 the Woodley Carnival Committee was able to contribute £233,000 to the building of the Oakwood Centre, a welcoming multi-purpose complex offering three meeting rooms, two halls and a fully equipped auditorium. The Oakwood Centre replaced the original building the Woodley Venturers Youth Club erected back in 1964 and is just across the park from the original site.
To celebrate the millennium the committee added a special evening concert with fireworks to round off Carnival Day, this remained in place over the following years. To celebrate the Carnival's 50th anniversary in 2010 a free carnival was held to thank the Woodley community for all their support. The following week a tribute band concert was held ending with a fantastic firework display to mark the occasion.
The Carnival today remains a huge event. The cost of holding the Carnival is ever increasing and, while other community carnivals have folded, the success of the Woodley Community Carnival remains, due to the Woodley spirit and the invaluable and highly regarded efforts we receive from the local companies, organisations and residents.
The present Woodley Carnival Committee still includes people who, over the years have worked very hard at the idea which started out as "how about a carnival day for Woodley"? If there was a roll of honour in our history it would be extensive as it would have to include the names of numerous people who have given much of their spare time and experience over the past years.
Remember this is your carnival and if you have any comments or ideas to offer that will help future carnivals, we will be delighted to hear from you.
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