The Sixties roots of Seaham Carnival

Seaham Show  September 1983.
Seaham Show September 1983.
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Roll up, roll up – all the fun of the fair is now on offer in East Durham.

This year’s Seaham Carnival is already underway and proving popular, thanks to a winning combination of brass bands, films, tribute acts and circus workshops.

Seaham Show  September 1983.

Seaham Show September 1983.

But, as these vintage Echo photographs show, the annual event has always been a crowd-pleaser – with generations of Seaham folk getting into the carnival spirit.

“Seaham Carnival was first held in 1969, when it was organised by Seaham Urban District Council and known as the Civic Show,” said Echo archivist Susan Swinney.

“A flower and vegetable show, fancy-dress parade, tug-of-war and Miss Seaham beauty pageant were among the star attractions of that inaugural event.

“And, at the start of the show, the gates were almost overrun as a huge roar went up from the crowd as teams kicked off for a football final.”

“The early shows were always held in September and even had a catchphrase - Remember Seaham. They were very special days for the town.”

Susan Swinney, photographic archivist for the Sunderland Echo.

In the early years Seaham Civic Show was held on just one day, although elimination heats for a variety of competitions took place in the weeks beforehand. The heats then culminated with the finals on show day. Each category was extremely hard fought – from leek growing and roses to football and fancy dress.

“The early shows were always held in September and even had a catchphrase – Remember Seaham,” said Susan. “They were very special days for the town.”

Seaham Civic Show morphed into Seaham Carnival over the years, with the 1970s bringing new attractions such as police motorcycle teams and parachutists.

A flyover by a Vulcan proved a highlight of the show in 1984, while an escapologist thrilled crowds in 1985 – carrying out his act while hanging from a crane.

Seaham Show September 1979.

Seaham Show September 1979.

“The show has grown from a one day event to a four-day extravaganza now.

“It is great to see such a wonderful tradition continuing,” said Susan.

Seaham Civic Show September 1974.

Seaham Civic Show September 1974.