Festival fun in 1986 – and headlines from 1956

The Horsham Festival of 1986 was certainly a resounding success.

Around 25,000 people joined the fun over a weekend that offered fireworks, displays of daredevilry, loads of music, a parachute display, side shows, video games, competitions, street theatre, an assault course and the chance to drive a JCB.

Beth Hartgrove was Little Miss Horsham, helped by Racheal Judd and Suzanne Smith, at Horsham Festival in 1986 SUS-171020-104918001

Beth Hartgrove was Little Miss Horsham, helped by Racheal Judd and Suzanne Smith, at Horsham Festival in 1986 SUS-171020-104918001

There was even a fun run for the more energetic souls.

The highlight, though, was the impressive procession of 72 floats that paraded through the streets to Horsham Park – all on the theme of comic strips.

Fred Flinstone, Thor, Mickey Mouse and Rupert Bear were among the characters who waved to the crowd and raised £1,200 for charity.

These pictures were published in the County Times in August 1986.

See if you can spot anyone you know!

Meanwhile, in the 1950s...

These stories all appeared in the West Sussex County Times in 1956.

July 27 1956: Hooliganism in Horsham Park is causing grave concern to Horsham Urban Council members. 

At their meeting they asked for the full co-operation of the public to stamp out what one councillor called “these nasty matters”. 

In the minutes of the Parks and Open Spaces Committee, a paragraph read: “The clerk was instructed to ask the police to assist in preventing undesirable conduct including the throwing of knives by gangs of youths in Horsham Park.” 

Councillor AH Eyles told his fellow councillors that the hooliganism was not only confined to Horsham Park: “At Victory Road Recreation Ground we have evidence of mad cycling. It is up to us and the public to stop these nasty matters.”

August 3 1956: Storm-struck Horsham shuddered under the impact of a near-hurricane force wind on Sunday morning and, when the storm did subside during the afternoon, it left in its wake a path of damage. 

From 10.15am until 1pm Horsham police station received reports of 41 “storm incidents”.

August 17 1956: Horsham schoolteacher, Mrs Hilda Clark, of Vale Drive, received a pleasant surprise during her holiday visit in London. 

Arriving at the Ambassadors Theatre for the matinee of London’s longest running play, the Agatha Christie thriller The Mousetrap, Mrs Clark was greeted in the foyer of the theatre by Peter Saunders, who presents the show, and told she had the proud title of the 500,000th patron of the show.

August 24 1956: One of four Sussex children to have paintings accepted for the forthcoming Children’s Academy at Hulton’s Boys’ and Girls’ Exhibition at Olympia, is Timothy Stewart, aged nine, only son of Mr and Mrs E Stewart, of Salisbury Road, Horsham. 

It is believed that two oil paintings by Timothy, executed when he was eight, are to be exhibited.

These depict the headmaster of St John’s College, Coolhurst, where he is a pupil, and an athletics scene.

August 31 1956: A bowler who “did a Laker” for Nuthurst Cricket Club by taking all ten St Richard’s wickets was 29-year-old Peter Ford, of Church Road, Roffey. 

In bowling six opponents and having two lbw and two caught, Peter conceded only 19 runs.

His bowling feat brought him another record for, as far as is known, he is the first local bowler to take 100 wickets during this season.

(For those of us who weren’t around in 1956, ‘doing a Laker’ referred to Jim Laker, who took 19 wickets for 90 runs at Old Trafford in England’s victory against Australia that year.)