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Visitors to Matlock Bath - Elkes Girl Pipers, 1937
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First Floral Fete 1908

Elkes Girl Pipers, who were formed in 1935[1], played at Matlock Bath's Floral Fete in the summer of 1937 and they were billed as a major attraction. The girls were all employees of Elkes Biscuits[2], a Uttoxeter biscuit maker. This would have been a marching band with the young women playing drums and bagpipes and the majorette (front row, left) would have marched at the front, leading the band and twirling her baton in time to the music.

The 1937 Fete saw the promenade and bandstand decorated with floral streamers, with over 30,000 flowers used. An item in the river gymkhana, arranged by Remo Tinti, saw a boat full of immaculately clad men in white flannels armed with flour and another boatload of men dressed in black and with bags of soot chasing each other up and down the river. Eventually all the men were covered in soot and flour and the boats capsized. Another event was for the "Derwent Gold Plate" when swimmers rode on wooden horses down the river; the horses had flue brushes for tails,. It sounds like an early version of "It's a Knockout" which was a popular British TV programme that began in 1966. Fireworks, of course, rounded off the evening[3].

In 1935 the Elkes Valley girl pipers were in Matlock and provided the music for the carnival procession round the town[4]. Similar bands also took part in the annual carnivals[5].

Advertisement in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned for this website and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Year of formation from "Berwickshire News and General Advertiser", 4 July 1939. They were to visit Berwick and by this time "had visited almost every town in the Midlands".

[2] Elkes Biscuits was initially a small family business, based in Uttoxeter, and is now part of Fox's biscuits.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 19 July 1937. Floral Gala at Matlock. River battle with flour and soot.

[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 16 September 1935.

[5] See Matlock Carnival, 1936. There's another Carnival photograph on One Man's Photographic Memory (scroll down).