Bramley Carnival developed from rival parades of local Friendly Societies in the mid 1800s. Occasionally when two societies met head on, their bands played louder and louder to drown each other out, and the uproar became known as the ‘Bramley Clash’. In 1891 the first official Carnival is recorded, a fund-raising procession along Town Street to raise money for the Workpeople’s Hospital Fund, and later the Leeds General Infirmary. The annual procession continued until 1937 attracting people from surrounding districts of Leeds and nearby, for a great family occasion.
- 'The whole village participated. Yards were trimmed and shops and each yard or firm would decorate a float'. (Bramley Carnival Remembered – a photographic history by Anne Marsden and Bramley History Society, 1997).
The procession ended in Barley Mow Field, where judging took place; the Queen was crowned and prizes given. At its biggest the parade doubled up on Town Street, with two separate columns going in both directions.
Bramley Carnival stopped in the late 1930s but was revived in 1946/7, this time lasting until the early 1950s. It was revived again in 1976, after a year of planning, and fund-raising which included a very popular fancy dress Pram-Race. This incarnation of the carnival ran intermittently until 1995. In 2006, Bramley Carnival was revived again by a new core team of Terence Knapton (Chair) and Helen Garrand (Secretary), with major input from many local societies and forums including Bramley Elderly Action, Bramley Extended Schools and Services, and Leeds School Sport Partnership West.
Bramley Carnival aims to bring all the people of Bramley and surrounding areas together in peace and harmony and enjoyment for all.
The celebration event allows charities, institutions and local businesses to promote their causes and offers, and allows local residents to access information and advice. The schools’ troupes are joined by the Carnival Queen and princesses, various music and dance bands, and other exhibitors such as the West Yorkshire Fire Service. Everyone gathers at Bramley Shopping Centre for a noon start. They progress down Town Street, then up Westover Road and onto Bramley Park - a distance of around half a mile. In the park is a main and side arena, and a fairground, from 1.15 to 4.30pm.
Finance and Figures
The most successful fundraising year for the original Bramley Carnival was 1900 when £300 was raised, which is equivalent to over £30,000 in today’s money. Currently the new Bramley Carnival aims to break even. The audience has gradually built up again since 2006 and in 2010 the Yorkshire Evening Post estimated that around 8,000 enjoyed the event.