By Harry Mottram: There was a time a few years ago when the Axbridge Blackberry Carnival nearly folded as ‘the old guard’ wanted to step down from organising the September event – and as so often is the case nobody wanted to step forward to carry on the torch. Thankfully they did and since the first few years of the 21st century when there were doubts it could continue it is now in the capable hands of a group residents who are enthusiastic and support each other in fund raising and organising the popular afternoon community parade.

They represent a variety of talents from administration (keeping the minutes of meetings), practical skills on the day of marshalling the floats for instance, health and safety knowledge, liasing with the authorities for road closures and the like, and that other essential skill – to do any of the jobs required at short notice. With a new committee taking on the staging of the 2024 carnival of Abi, Karen, Louise, Sophie, Mel, Peter, Lynn, Harry, Kim, Vicky, George, Barry and Di (pictured) the decision was made to raise the cash – up to £5,000 – to ensure the procession takes place. Barry’s music quiz, the OakHouse’s Easter Egg raffle, a planned theatre production in July of Beryl’s Day Out and of course the Rumble in the Jumble event on Saturday 1st June were planned.

Axbridge is known for its community events and it is something that is frequently mentioned as one of the reasons why people move here. The geography of the town helps with the centre concentrated in The Square with all roads leading to this natural gathering place and stage for events such as the Pageant, Father Christmas in The Square and the monthly Farmers’ Market. But there is also something else which many towns lose as they grow – and that is a closeness of the residents – again the town’s layout helps – but Axbridge has inherited a number of social themes. In WW2 it was a local centre for the military with a British restaurant and billets for troops, in the 1950s the railway, small businesses from butchery to mushroom and egg productions, the police station and local government offices all kept employment here for families and professionals alike. The closure of the railway and opening of the bypass led to a revitalisation of the town square best symbolised by the creation of the pageant but also allowing the carnival procession to take place.

The tragedy of the air disaster of 1973 brought the community together even more and in the years that followed new homes and estates grew up – but not so huge the town’s identity was lost. During the 1980s and 1990s new people moved in and some might say old Axbridge changed for ever as the old strawberry growers gave up their business along with the small shops that once lined the High Street and square. All things change but some things don’t and that in Axbridge is the community spirit – best personified by the new commitee of the carnival. A big thank you for everyone who took part in Rumble in The Jumble as a buyer or seller – and don’t forget to mark your diaries for Sunday, 28th July, when Beryl’s Day Out is performed in the town hall to raise money for the carnival. Actors and singers Kate McNab and Paul Crossthwaite are legends in Bristol for their theatre based on the real lives of local people in the last 80 years – one not to be missed.

A reminder that the carnival is on Saturday, 21st September, 2024, at 2pm. The procession begins in Cheddar Road where the entries are judged and then moves along St Mary’s Street to the Square and up the High Street to Compton Manor before returning for the prize giving. New comers may not know it coincides with the fun fair set up in the Square – so quite a sight to behold.

Nobody is quite sure when the carnival began – Somerset is known for its carnivals – some date to the 19th century while others like Cheddar’s ran for a few years after WW2 as a fundraiser for war damage. Axbridge’s goes back some way but if anyone has old photos or accounts of its birth then email me at

For more on the carnival and to take part visit

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents.

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc