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Wills Carnival Club

Wills Carnival Club

Wills Carnival Club was formed in 1952 by a group of employees from the W&F Wills Ltd engineering works in Bridgwater, and is the most successful tableaux club ever to enter Bridgwater Carnival. In those early days, the management of the company got behind the club and agreed that all interested employees would pay a weekly wage deduction of 1 shilling and sixpence per week to help pay for the club’s entries.

The club first took part in the carnival procession in 1952 under the name of W&F Wills (Engineering) Ltd, and entered the special local class with their entry Bring em Back.  The special local class was common in those days as there was not always enough room for all of the Bridgwater based clubs to take part in the annual carnival concerts.

Mr Kelvin Toby Foster proved to be the mainstay behind the club for many years, and until his death in 2003. He was very adept at arranging and finding materials for the club to use and was always looking for willing helpers to promote, design and create the club’s entries. From those early days, the club always believed a good cart needed effective lighting and good costume to be successful in the tableaux class, and this is a belief it still holds to this day.

The club first won the tableaux class at Bridgwater Carnival in 1957 with their entry Life in Arcady, and this started a run of success which saw them take first place 10 times in the next 15 years. During most of this time the club were using a 7.5kw generator, which was changed when members purchased a 45kw generator in order to increase lighting capacity and to make sure it stayed one step ahead of their competitors.

In 1982 the W&F Wills factory sadly closed, and the upheaval of having to find and then move to a new headquarters severely impacted the club. After settling into their new headquarters at The Wellworthy Social Club, it immediately embarked on a highly successful campaign to recruit new members. The combination of the remaining experienced members who had been with the club since the start and the newer members who had just joined proved to be a winning formula, and the club embarked on the most successful period in it’s history by winning numerous procession, stage and county cups in the years that followed.

Further turbulent times hit the club again in the mid noughties. During this period the club found it difficult to secure long term permanent headquarters after moving four times in ten years (Wellworthy Social Club, The Great Escape Pub, The British Legion Club, and The Railway Club), and was also on the lookout for a new permanent location to build their spectacular tableaux entries after notice was served on their existing shed at Sydenham Farm. A temporary solution was found when the owners of Ashton Farm in East Huntspill heard of the club’s predicament and kindly offered the members the use of one of their agricultural sheds on a short term basis and until they could find a more permanent place to build their entries.

Things have moved on since those uncertain and difficult times, and the club’s future is looking much brighter. As well as securing permanent headquarters at The Duke Pub (High Street, Bridgwater), the club has also acquired a site at the Bristol Road carnival park where it now builds its entries.

Over the years, Wills CC has produced some memorable entries for Bridgwater Carnival, and these include,  My Lord Mayor (1964), Death And Glory Boys (1971), The Three Musketeers  (1990), Toys And Dolls (1994), Silverball Mania (1995), Twilight Cafe (1996), Amadeus (2008) and Gettysburg (2018), to name just a few.

The club is one of the two surviving tableaux clubs left in the town.

Procession Results

Year
Title
Class
Position
Cup
2019
Smugglers Cove
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2018
Gettysburg
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2017
Tempus Fugit
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2016
Capture of the Iron Horse
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2015
The Secret Creed
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2014
Merry Grinchmas
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2013
#Priscilla
Class 2 – Tableau Cart Local
1
2012
Mrs Lovetts Meat Pies
Tableau Cart – Local
1
2011
Wackee Race
Feature & Tableau Cart – Local
4
2010
GALACTIC CIRCUS
Feature & Tableau Cart – Local
3
2009
Venezia
Feature & Tableau Cart – Local
4
2008
AMADEUS
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
2007
THE KRAKEN AWAKES
Tableaux/Feature Cart – Local
6
2006
VALHALLA ROCK
Tableaux/Feature Cart – Local
5
2005
HALLOWEEN
Tableaux/Feature Cart – Local
4
2004
AEGYPTUS
Tableaux/Feature Cart – Local
4
2003
LES MISERABLES
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
2002
MOULIN ROUGE
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
2001
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
2000
YOU’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1999
SUN NEE FIE LO
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1998
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1997
COMIC STRIP
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1996
TWILIGHT CAFE
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1995
SILVERBALL MANIA
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1994
TOYS AND DOLLS
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1993
CATS
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1992
LORE CIRCLE OF THE MAGNAKAI
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1991
THE STORY OF CHESS
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1990
THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1989
STARLIGHT EXPRESS
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1988
SOLOMON AND SHEBA
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1987
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1986
BARNUM
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1985
KABUKI, LEGEND OF THE MONKEY GOD
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1984
CINDERELLA
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1983
BOADICEA – WARRIOR QUEEN
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1982
THE ADVENTURES OF SADKO THE MINSTREL
Tableaux Cart – Local
3
1981
FLASH GORDON
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1980
HOLIDAY ON ICE
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1979
THE 12 TASKS OF HERCULES
Tableaux Cart – Local
3
1978
FANTASY OF THE ICE PLANET
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1977
FAERIE FOLKE (THE LORDS OF THE RINGS)
Tableaux Cart – Local
3
1976
PAGEANTRY OF OLD JAPAN
Tableaux Cart – Local
3
1975
THE SAILORS OF ELIZABETH THE FIRST
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1974
HANNIBAL OF CARTHAGE
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1973
WORSHIPPERS OF THE CONDOR
Tableaux Cart – Local
3
1972
SCENES FROM ALADDIN
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1971
DEATH OR GLORY BOYS (17TH LANCERS)
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1970
JULIUS CAESAR
Tableaux Cart – Local
2
1969
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
Tableaux Cart – Local
4
1968
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Gangs – Local
3
1967
THE ORIGIN OF THE ORDER OF THE GARTER
Gangs – Local
2
1966
CATHEDRAL MURDER – THOMAS BECKETT, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY 1170
Gangs – Local
1
1965
THE EMIGRANTS
Gangs – Local
2
1964
MY LORD MAYOR
Gangs – Local
1
1963
PRINCESS TURANDOT
Tableaux Cart – Local
1
1962
THE GOLDEN SWAN – OBEY OR DIE
Gangs – Local
1
1961
SCENE FROM FAUST
Gangs – Local
1
1960
KING RICHARD I AND SALADIN
Gangs – Local
2
1959
BORIS GODUNOV
Gangs – Local
1
1958
LADY FU-CHEN RETURNS
Gangs – Local
1
1957
LIFE IN ARCADY – A FANTASY
Gangs – Local
1
1956
STATE CEREMONY OF ZU-VENDI
Gangs – Local
2
1955
CARNIVAL REMINISCENCES
Gangs – Local
4
1954
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBOS
Gangs – Local
4
1953
SCENE FROM “ROMEO AND JULIET”
Gangs – Local
6

Concert Results

Year
Title
Class
Position
Cup
2019
The Wreckers of Moonfleet
Features & Tableau
9
2018
The American Civil War
Features & Tableau
8
2017
 Tempus Fugit
Features & Tableau
9
2016
 Frontier
Features & Tableau
9
2015
 The Secret Creed
Features & Tableau
9
2014
 Dr Suess, The Suessical
Features & Tableau
7
2013
Priscilla
Features & Tableau
8
2012
Mrs Lovett’s Pie Emporium
Features & Tableau
9
2011
The Wacky Racers
Features & Tableau
11
2010
The Intergalctic Circus
Features & Tableau
7
2009
The Merchant Of Venice
Features & Tableau
8
2008
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Features & Tableau
5
2007
The Kraken Awakes
Features & Tableau
9
2006
The Vikings – A Rock Opera
Features & Tableau
9
2005
Halloween
Features & Tableau
5
2004
Ancient Egypt – Aegyptus
Features & Tableau
6
2003
Les Miserables
Features & Tableau
3
2002
Moulin Rouge
Features & Tableau
4
2001
The Wizard Of Oz
Features & Tableau
6
2000
You’ve Never Seen Anything Like It
Tableau
1
1999
Sun Nee Fie Lo
Tableau
1
1998
Beauty & The Beast
Tableau
1
1997
Comic Strip
Tableau
1
1996
Twilight Cafe Cabaret
Tableau
1
1995
Silverball Mania
Tableau
2
1994
Toys And Dolls
Tableau
1
1993
Cats
Tableau
1
1992
Lore Circles Of The Magnakai
Tableau
1
1991
The Story Of Chess
Tableau
1
1990
The Three Musketeers
Tableau
2
1989
Starlight Express
Tableau
1
1988
Soloman & Sheba
Tableau
3
1987
Phantom Of The Opera
Tableau
1
1986
Barnum
Tableau
2
1985
Kabuki
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1984
Cinderella
Second Position – Tableaux
1980
Holiday on Ice
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1978
The Fantasy of the Ice Planet
Second Position – Tableaux
1977
The Hobbit
Second Position – Tableaux
1975
The Sailors of Elizabeth the First
Second Position – Tableaux
1974
Hanibal of Carthage
Second Position – Feature
1973
Worshippers of the Condor
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1972
Scenes from Aladdin
Second Position – Feature
1971
Death or Glory Boys 17th Lancers
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1970
Julius Caesar
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1969
The First Christmas
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1969
The First Christmas
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1966
Murder of Thomas Beckett 1170
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1965
The Emigrants
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1965
Emigrants
Concert – 1st Position – Highest points gang or feature.
1964
My Lord Mayor
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1964
My Lord Mayor
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1963
Princess Turandot
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1963
Princess Turandot
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1962
The Golden Swan
Concert – 1st Position – Highest points gang or feature.
1961
Scene from Faust
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1961
Scene from Faust
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1960
King Richard 1 and Saladin
Concert – Tableaux or Feature – White Hart Cup runner up
1959
Boris Godunov
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1959
Boris Gudunov
Concert – 1st Position – Highest points gang or feature.
1958
Lady Fu Chen Returns
Overall – Championship Cup – Local
1958
Lady Fu Chen Returns
Concert – 1st Position – Highest points gang or feature.
1957
Life in Arcady
Overall – Championship Cup – Local

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