Scouts rustle up some sizzling carnival food

Too many cooks?: Members of the 35th Oxford Scouts in charge of the barbecue at the 1967 Blackbird Leys Carnival

Too many cooks?: Members of the 35th Oxford Scouts in charge of the barbecue at the 1967 Blackbird Leys Carnival

First published in Memory Lane Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

THESE Scouts made sure people didn’t go hungry at Blackbird Leys Carnival.

Members of the 35th Oxford troop were in charge of the barbecue. Some of them were cooking, while others, it seems, were waiting to pounce and grab the first sausages and burgers to emerge.

Meanwhile, in the other picture, two little girls are congratulated by one of the judges after winning prizes in the playgroup fancy dress competition.

The photographs were taken at the carnival on the Oxford estate in 1967. Sadly, we haven’t been able to find any report of the event.

However, it looks as if it was a great success as, the following year, it was renamed the Oxford Carnival, with the aim no doubt of attracting a city-wide audience.

The organisers must have felt confident as they booked Simon Dee, a popular disc jockey and TV presenter at the time – and celebrities, then as now, did not come cheaply.

The star of BBC’s Dee Time show found himself trapped on a stage as hundreds of fans besieged him on the Sandy Lane recreation ground at Blackbird Leys.

He jumped on to the stage to crown Miss Oxford, 21-year-old Wendy Herdman, but then the crowd broke through a cordon and swarmed round him.

Officials managed to get Miss Herdman and her attendants off the stage, but Dee had to stay where he was, signing autographs until the pandemonium died down.

A plan for him to “mingle furtively” among the sideshows was abandoned for safety reasons.

More than 1,000 people crowded into the ground to watch demonstrations by gymnasts, judo experts and child dancers.

Oxford Mail:

  • Stocking up: Donna Hackett, four, and Tracey Ayres, three, winners in the playgroup fancy dress competition, with one of the judges

The carnival had opened with a parade of floats, led by a lorry carrying Miss Oxford, her attendants and Jimmy Dingle, the well-known Oxford top hat advertising man.

The winning float, chosen by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Peter Spokes, was a lorry full of pensioners called ‘Full House at Northbrooke House’ – a bingo game on wheels.

The carnival day ended with a dance at the Town Hall, with Simon Dee dancing with Miss Oxford to the music of the American Air Force Band.

How many of the Scouts can we name? And where are the Oxo fancy dress winners now?

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