Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cowes carnival goes on after fire destroyed floats

Carnival Queens Image copyright Cowes Carnival
Image caption A new float was built to carry the carnival queens

An annual community carnival has marked its 120th anniversary, six months after its floats were destroyed in a large fire.

Cowes Carnival organisers said they had "lost everything" when their premises at Medina Village industrial estate were destroyed in the blaze in January.

Chairwoman Lynn Hammond said the community had "rallied round" with donations.

Crowds lined the streets for the procession on Thursday evening.

Image copyright Cowes Carnival
Image caption The carnival equipment and documents were destroyed in the fire

The industrial unit used by the carnival to house its floats and equipment was gutted when welding sparks started a fire in an adjoining car repair unit, on 26 January.

The charity lost tools, boat batteries, chairs, lighting, its trailer, timber, floats and costumes.

Ms Hammond said it had needed "blood, sweat and tears", to have the organisation running in time for the summer carnival season on the island.

Image copyright Cowes Carnival
Image caption Work had to begin from scratch after the fire in January

"There were so many times when I didn't think we'd do it, but the community has been unbelievable. People are just mad about the carnival," she said.

"Every day had another hurdle, but now we've done it."

The organisation was donated another storage facility, a new trailer as well as tools, wood and floats, while other organisations held fundraising events.

The event also celebrated Cowes Carnival's 120th anniversary with many previous carnival queens taking part.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWitnesses told of hearing explosions when the fire broke out

Vintage boats, including a World War Two Dunkirk "little ship" were also destroyed in the industrial estate fire, which was started accidentally.

Forty business units were evacuated along with residents in nearby streets.

No one was seriously injured but two people referred themselves to St Mary's Hospital in Newport after suffering the effects of breathing in smoke.

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