Bank staff brought nanny’s tale to life

The Mary Poppins float Eastbourne Carnival, 1960s
The Mary Poppins float Eastbourne Carnival, 1960s

READER Annette Buckley has sent in this photograph of the Mary Poppins float in Eastbourne Carnival in the 1960s.

Annette believes the photograph was taken in either 1964 or 1965 and features members of Lloyds Bank in Eastbourne who entered under the banner of Eastbourne Society for Cancer Relief, of which the branch manager Bill Johnson was the treasurer.

Staff members won first prize for the best decorated tableau in the procession, in which 50 floats took part.

Annette writes, “I am sitting on the float towards the front wearing a long red skirt and white blouse with a sash saying Votes for Women as I was portraying Winifred, the Edwardian suffragette of the Banks family. But who was the penguin?

“Many of us stayed behind after work in the weeks leading up to the big day making 3,500 red, white and lemon paper flowers to adorn the sides of the float. These had to be wired into two very large pegboards to spell out the initials of the National Society for Cancer Relief – and the only place there was room in the bank to work on these was a cold dark basement.

“There must have been an artist amongst us as I see from the photo that hand painted scenes are depicted on both end boards and a subtle reference to the bank’s name was made in the form of a large black horse with a pound sign picked out in white flowers on a green background.

“I can personally remember buying yards of red satin cotton from C & H Fabrics, a very helpful family run business then located nearer the seafront in Terminus Road fairly near the Eastbourne Mutual Building Society.

“I stayed up a couple of nights until the early hours of the morning cutting out and 17 seventeen waistcoats for the chimney sweeps, together with red and white spotted neckerchiefs and the following night made my own outfit in matching colours.

“As a result of efforts from the previous year, the cancer society received a grant of £170 from the carnival committee and it was hoped we would be able to achieve a similar amount again. I think my weekly earnings at that time would have been in the region of £10 a week, so £170 was a very acceptable benefit to the charity. We were also very proud to take back a very large silver cup to be displayed by the treasurer in his manager’s office at our branch.

“I notice the lorry was loaned by Hall & Co, a gravel company situated for many years along the road from Langney roundabout to Pevensey Bay, which was managed by the father of one of our girls, Sandy Brown.

“The names of some of my other colleagues come to mind: Peter Way, whose father ran a newsagents in Seaside, Jenny White, whose family had an off licence in the same area, Roger Barron, Myra Hunt, who became manager of Lloyds in Seaside, Val Miles, and Margaret Lake, whose father was the manager of Eastbourne Pier at the time.

“Everybody pulled together and we all had a wonderful day.

“I do remember the copper pennies being thrown from the windows and balconies of the seafront hotels really hurt if they caught your face.

“Most of us taking part in the carnival that day must now be in their late 60s, early 70s, and if anybody recognises themselves on the photo, I would love to hear from them at