Preston has been warned it has just four weeks to save its spectacular Caribbean Carnival.
The annual festival is on the verge of collapse after organisers and dance troupes were forced out of their headquarters by developers.
Heartbroken committee members fear they will have to destroy the stunning costumes and procession pieces which have been the highlight of the city’s colourful Mardi Gras for four decades if a new home cannot be found within the month.
“It would be tragic,” said treasure Carol Nevins. “But as things stand we will have nowhere to store them.
“It’s a nightmare. Unless we find somewhere quickly then I just can’t see the carnival happening next year.
“We are trying to think positively. But as the deadline looms we still haven’t found anywhere big enough and we are all beginning to fear this is the end after 41 years.”
Preparations for next year’s June extravaganza have been continuing despite the axe hanging over the event.
Six weeks ago the carnival team were asked to vacate two third floor units at Oyston Mill in Strand Road where they have stored all their equipment for more than a decade and where two local dance troupes, Spectrum Association and Isle of Harmony, practised routines. A city centre company stepped in with temporary accommodation, but that expires in the next month, leaving Preston’s biggest event outside the Guild facing a bleak future.
“Inexpensive storage and workshop space is difficult to find in or around the city centre,” said Elaine Webb, chair of the carnival committee. “But we are still hopeful suitable accommodation can be found.
“We are very grateful to Oyston Mill for allowing us to use the units for so long, it has been a lifeline to our survival. But now, if a new space isn’t found in the next four weeks, the Caribbean Carnival will not be able to take place in 2016. And that would be a great shame.”
The upper floors of Oyston Mill are being developed into apartments and carnival organisers say they have searched high and low for repleacement storage facilities, but have so far drawn a blank.
“The owners were good enough to let us use them for a minor charge and they were ideal for what we wanted,” said Carol Nevins. “Finding a place the same size - and cheap - isn’t easy. If we can’t then a lot of the stuff we’ve got will have to be destroyed. It’s not the sort of stuff you can store in the spare bedroom. Some of the pieces are very big and will have to broken up.
“We need somewhere which is about 300 to 400 square feet. So if anyone out there has anything like that available at a reasonable rent then please let us know.
“It will be a tragedy if Preston’s famous Caribbean Carnival can’t be staged next year.”
Anyone who can help should call Carol on 0779 665 3362 or Elaine on 0795 767 3618.