Posts Tagged ‘fancy dress’

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade

Brent is the London Borough with the largest Irish population and there are also significant numbers in the neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Islington and Hammersmith & Fulham, with Kilburn and Willesden Green being the in particular having large populations of Irish descent,

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade
St Patrick, Willeden Green, 2007

So it was hardly surprising that Willesden Green for some years had its own St Patrick’s Day procession, held on the day itself, March 17th, as well as the London celebration begun in 2002 when Ken Livingstone was Mayor on the nearest Sunday. Labour Brent also celebrated days for some of its other communities until recently cuts in funding from a Tory dominated central government made this no longer possible.

Willeden Green, 2007

The parade in Brent was on a smaller and friendlier scale than the London parade, and far more a community festival on the street, with others as well as the Irish joining in and having a good time.

St Patrick, Willesden Green, 2008

The multi-cultural nature of Brent was clear in that the parade began outside an Islamic Cultural Centre and those taking part included many local school-children from a whole mix of heritages. Brent as well as St Patrick’s Day also then celebrated Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Chanukah and Navrati, and Holocaust Memorial Day, along with a black history programme, its own ‘Respect’ festival and a world food and music festival.

Willesden Green, 2008

St Patrick blesses the photographer, Willesden Green, 2009

But it was very clearly an Irish event, with Irish people from all across London coming to watch and take part, both in the parade and in the various pubs and bars along the route.

Willesden Green, 2009

Some of the floats in the parade were also in the main London St Patrick’s Day parade, but the atmosphere here was much more relaxed. Here are a few pictures that I made from 2009-2013.

Willesden Green, 2009
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2011
Willesden Green, 2012
Two St Patricks, Willesden Green, 2012
Willesden Green, 2012
Willesden Green, 2013

In 2013, the event was much smaller as council funding had been cut, thanks to Tory austerity policies. And because St Patricks Day that year was on the Sunday, the celebration in Brent was held a day earlier so not to clash with the London parade.

I think this was the last St Patrick’s Day Parade in Brent – certainly it was the last I photographed. You can see many other pictures from Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade on My London Diary

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2007 (scroll down the page)
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2008
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2009
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2010
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2011
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2013


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Pancakes

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

Pancake Race winners in Spitalfields, 2007

I’m not a pancake lover, and didn’t celebrate last Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday. For once there was not a pancake in sight in our household as I think I’ve finally made my views on the subject clear. It isn’t that I would refuse to eat them but more that I find their taste and texture mildly offensive and feel that whatever filling or topping is applied to them would go much better with something else such as potato or bread.

Guildhall Yard, 2012

That hasn’t stopped me going out to photograph some of the many “tossers” who take part in the many pancake races which have mushroomed in our cities in recent years. I think back when I was young, pancake races were confined to a few places around Milton Keynes. The tradition is said to have begun in Olney in 1445, but had died at the start of the Second World War and was revivied in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins, going international when Liberal, a town in Kansas, USA, sent Olney a challenge to a timed race in 1950.

What had once been purely a local tradition was spread through film and TV coverage, but it was only relatively recently that we began to see pancake races in London. I’ve photographed them in half a dozen places, the most interesting of which, a highly competitive event between the City of London’s Livery Companies, takes place in Guildhall Yard, and was begun by the Worshipful Company of Poulters in 2004, though I only photographed it for the first time in 2007. All except the top picture on this post are from Tues 21 Feb 2012.

Back in 2007 I think I was one of very few photographers present, though a few of my friends came along too, at least in the following years, and by the time I last went in 2020 there was a whole crowd of photographers and things had become rather more organised and less interesting. There wasn’t a race this year, but even had things been normal I wouldn’t have bothered to go again.

Leadenhall Market, 2012

These races take place across lunchtime, and in some years there was another race by myself and my friends leaving the Guildhall before the final races to rush and cover one of the other events taking place, at Leadenhall Market (750 metres away) or Spitalfields, just outside the City, and 1.18km distant before these finished. Other pancake races take place south of the river in Southwark, though I’ve found them less interesting to photograph – and I’m not sure I’ve ever published any pictures.

I think all of the London pancake races are raising money for charities and are team events. The Guildhall race is an opportunity for many in City businesses of all ages to let their hair down a little, with separate classes for the Masters of the guilds and women as well as other team members, and a separate fancy dress class; they have clear rules about gloves hats and more which are strictly applied, as well as timekeepers and a starting cannon. The other races are rather less organised, with teams from local businesses or pubs some in fancy dressthough others in their normal work clothes and generally rather younger.

Pancakes in the City – Leadenhall Market
Pancakes in the City – Guildhall


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.