2012 Preston Guild goes vintage with Morecambe icon Wayne Hemmingway
Lancashire Life is supporting Wayne Hemingway's showcase of great British design in the Preston Guild celebrations. Paul Mackenzie reports Main photograraph by Sara Cuff
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Visitors to a Preston park will be able to take a trip through 90 years of classic design as part of the city’s Guild celebrations next month. The Vintage Weekend Festival will showcase fashion, music, food and art from Guild years in the 20th century.
The centrepiece of the event, which is being curated by Lancashire design icons Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, will be a huge tent in Avenham Park which will host events intended to conjure up the 1920s, 40s, 50s, 70s and 90s.
Guild celebrations have been held in Preston every 20 years since the 1500s – although the sequence was interrupted by World War Two – and this year it features a programme of arts and cultural events on a scale rarely seen outside the big cities.
Morecambe-born Wayne, who was awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to design, said: ‘The Vintage Weekend Festival is something Preston has not experienced before. We want to push the boundaries and introduce new things. The main thing we want it to be is a celebration which will leave people with a smile on their face and surprise them and make them want to try something new.’
Among the attractions in the park during the weekend of September 1-2 will be fashion shows, music concerts and dance workshops to reflect each of the Guild years.
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‘There are great things to take out of Guild years and we’ll look back to the 1922 Guild on the Saturday morning in a large ornate building erected in Avenham Park,’ Wayne added.
‘It is going to be very much a grassroots festival, drawing on local creativity, style and cultural references from across the decades, to create something which is truly unique to Lancashire.
‘You’ll be able to learn the Charleston, get your hair and make-up done in 1920s style, we’ll have 1920s films showing in a pop-up cinema in the park.
‘There will be a food festival in Winckley Square and we’ll have fashion workshops and all sorts of pop-up events like a string of pearls around the park. There’s even be vintage planes and cars – the whole place will be like a museum of great design.
‘After that the tent gets turned into the Guild of 1972 and visitors will be able to get their hair and make-up done, learn the dances, buy the clothes and we’ll have a stellar line-up of Northern Soul DJs.
‘The festival will look forward to 2032 as well, in music, fashion, art, design and great food – all the things that make life good, we’ll be bringing the good things in life together.’
And on the Saturday night the tent will host the Spirit of 42 Ball, celebrating the Guild that didn’t happen, with live music, authentic cocktails, cabaret, dance lessons, staff in 1940s dress and a special menu created by Paul Heathcote.
A Vintage Guild Marketplace will offer a range of stalls selling an eclectic range of new, recycled and re-used vintage themed wares from clothing to accessories, homeware to music memorabilia.
The following day’s events will focus on the 1952, 72 and 92 Guilds, with rock and roll music, jive lessons, 70s fashions and a concert headlined by Human League.
And Wayne added: ‘All the time during the fashion shows, people who have made a real effort will be picked out – we want the public to get really involved.
‘We want to inspire creative people to want to put on events in Preston. We didn’t want it just to be us coming and doing it, we want to pass on our skills and we are working with a really talented and vibrant team. It’s important that Preston doesn’t wait another 20 years to put on a big event. Hopefully the Guild will stimulate a good number of people to get involved.’
Wayne’s father, Billy Two Rivers – a Red Indian, supporter of Native American Rights and world champion heavyweight wrestler – left home when Wayne was three to run off with pools winner Viv Nicholson. When Wayne was seven he moved with his mum to the now demolishedQueens Parks Flats in Blackburn before moving again to the Halfway House pub, between Blackburn and Preston.
Wayne met Padiham-born wife Gerardine, pictured above, in a Burnley disco and moved to London where they founded the Red or Dead fashion label which they later sold in a multi-million pound deal. Since then the couple have worked on projects to design housing, homewares and even McDonalds staff uniforms.
But although much of their work requires the couple to be based in the south, Wayne, a Blackburn Rovers fan, said: ‘We are coming back all the time – for meetings about the Vintage Weekend Festival, but also my mum is in Garstang and we work with a lot of companies in Lancashire. When I get off the train up here I do feel I have arrived home.’
And Stella Hall, Preston Guild 2012 festival director added: ‘The Vintage Guild Weekend promises to be one of the most stylish, colourful and exciting dates in the calendar this year.
‘It will celebrate the best in Northern fashion, dance, food and music and also look forward to how the future of Preston Guild might look – a real journey through time and style.
‘Gaining the support of Wayne and Gerardine is a real coup for Preston Guild. Having two such inspirational names in design lend their creative vision and expertise to this event is extremely exciting and will be an event that is not to be missed.’
Wayne’s world in pictures
The pictures featured in these pages are Vintage Wayne Hemingway - from his childhood when he obviously had a passion for the stage, to the pictures overleaf of him growing up and meeting the love of his life, Gerardine.
In an interview with Lancashire Life in 2007, Wayne revealed that he had been conceived – fittingly for someone famous as an icon of style and design – in Morecambe’s grand art deco Midland Hotel.
He was brought up in the town by his mum and grandmother after his father, the Red Indian wrestler Billy Two Rivers, left home when Wayne was three.
Wayne’s mum encouraged him to perform in shows at the Winter Gardens and to enter talent competitions and she would also dress him in costumes for walks along the seafront.When Wayne was seven he moved with his mum to the now demolished Queens Parks Flats in Blackburn, where he developed his love of the town’s football team, before moving again to the Halfway House pub, between Blackburn and Preston.
He met wife Gerardine from Padiham in Angels Disco in Burnley,and they began their fashion business with a stall on Camden Market which grew to become the Red or Dead label. They sold the label but they have been involved many design projects.
Other Guild highlights
The history of the Guild dates back to 1179 when King Henry II granted Preston the right to have a Guild Merchant and gave the town its first royal charter.
The first reliably recorded celebration of the Guild – an organisation of traders, craftsmen and merchants – was in 1397 but it has taken place every 20 years since 1542.
Preston’s traditional Guild Week has been extended this year to 10 days. Here are a few key dates.
Friday August 31: Opening of Guild City Festival
Saturday September 1: Trades Procession. Preston Guild 2012 Square Food Festival, Winckley Square
Sunday September 2: Guild Mayor’s civic procession and divine service at the Minster. Preston Guild 2012 Square Food Festival, Winckley Square
Monday September 3: The Guild Court. Churches Procession
Tuesday September 4: Mayoral International Reception
Wednesday September 5: Guild Mayoral Ball
Friday September 7: Community Procession. Jose Carreras to headline classical concert.
Saturday September 8: Torchlight Procession. Rock and pop concert.
Sunday September 9: Guild Mayor’s civic procession and service of thanksgiving at the Minster. Grand firework display. Performance by Les Commandos Percu.
Tickets for the Spirit of 42 Vintage Ball and Sunday night concert are on sale now from 01772 252858, online at www.prestonguild2012.com and through Ticketmaster. The Human League tickets cost �22 and tickets for the ball cost �42 – if you want to buy extra drinks on the night, you’ll have to change your money for pre-decimal pounds, shillings and pence.
For more information about Preston Guild go to www.prestonguild2012.com and you can follow the Guild on Facebook at Preston Guild 2012 and on Twitter at @Guild2012.