Shambles was formed on the 12th January 1987 when a meeting was held at the King William Inn, West Shepton. The chairman for the meeting was Martin Dredge and it was attended by 13 others who wanted to join the new club. The name of the club was decided on a basis that it had to be associated with Shepton Mallet and Shambles, the name given to the market stalls that used to be used in the Town Centre was decided on. At the next meeting, the original 13 members were joined by a further 5 swelling the membership to 18. Over the year, the membership rose and fell and there were 13 members taking part in the first entry - 'Martial Arts of the Orient' which was built on land at West Compton, at a cost of approximately £2,500. It took several hours to reach the main road with the cart as it had to cross several fields, a used railway track and narrow lanes.
The club's low point was in 1993, when membership dropped as low as 12 and saw the club only just qualify for appearance money just being able to get the minimum amount of cast members on the cart.
A report in the Shepton Mallet Journal, highlighting the club's plight brought 9 new members in 1994. The club won 17 trophies with 'Inn Signs' and was placed first in class at Wells and Glastonbury Carnivals. Other trophies included 'Best Artwork', 'Tableau Pose', Best Dressed Tractor Driver' and 'Originality'.
1995 saw the club gain a new lease of life and a move back to the Kings Arms Inn. The more adventurous theme 'Hocus Pocus' which with a new generator trailer made the cart up to the maximum 100 ft. Another 17 trophies for Costumes, Tableau Pose, Originality and Artwork.
The club's entry 'The Flix' meant that the cart had to be stripped back to the chassis for the first time in 3 years. The cart was created using just black and white, a gamble that paid off as the club won 24 trophies.In 1999 the club moved headquarters to the Bell Inn. The entry was Kuckuckuhren (Cuckoo Clocks) an idea by Sue Baker. Six Cuckoo Clocks were built on the cart and the cast portrayed the working pieces of the pendulums, a very successful entry for the club which was awarded 24 trophies in total including 'THE BEST IN THE WEST' Trophy which is sponsored by the Western Daily Press Newspaper. The Club was placed joint 3rd in county as well.The clubs entry for 2000 was Cards of Destiny based on a pack of tarot cards being dealt ready for reading, the idea for the theme came from club chairman Paul Smith, the main detail on the cart was the artwork as 38 individual cards were created by Martin Dredge, Charlotte Smith and Georgina Dodd,the entry finished 5th on the county circuit and was also awarded Best In Procession at Shepton Mallet.Tractor Driver Martin Dredge also scooped the Bulldog Cup for the 3rd time for the Best Dressed Tractor Driver Runner Up on the County Circuit.
In 2002 the club decided to keep up it's tradition with something original with `THE TRAVELLING SHOW' the idea was put forward by Sheila Petherbridge after the song from Cher's greatest hits album the song Gypsy's,Tramps & Thieves feature of the cart was two gypsy caravans, which where made and detailed by club members this entry finished 3rd overall scooping 8 awards, winning the cup for most original entry.2003 saw the clubs dream come true for the second time in three years, this entry was one of the best to date the theme was the fantasmagorical flying car, `CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG' the idea was put forward by Scott Witcombe, after losing a few members the club all pulled together and pulled the cart out on the day before bridgewater with things still to do, all the ground crew worked very hard until Bridgewater start, and come away with a 3rd at Bridgewater, but things looked up on North Petherton night when we got a 1st, we succeeded to get firsts all the way, by the time we got to Weston we were drawing with Masqueraders cc for the overall county cup, then on Weston night we got a joint 1st with Wills cc which meant we lost out on the cup by half a point which was a shock to the club after putting alot of time and effort into the float, but we still come out on top by winning the County Tableaux Cup another one of Shambles finest moments.
2006 was the year of the dog, a big dog!! Scooby Doo. This was created by James Loxton who watched the TV show when he was young, he also owns dogs.There were 3 Scooby dogs on the cart and his cousin Scrappy tagged along on the back, up to no good as usual! This idea finished 6th on the county circuit and winning most original entry, tableau pose and runner up for best music.
Down the yard in this year we were busy laying tarmac to help make it easier to get out of the shed. This was kindly donated by Chris Baker. Also a new alarm was installed as we were frequently getting broken into.
2009 Was dreamt up by Scott Witcombe all about board games, he was watching Harry Potter when Ron went across the chess board and thought that would make a great idea, but said chess on its own would not be enough, so added the rest.
We decided to move the tractor driver down to the front like the other big clubs, this took months to strip then move it all, thanks to Pete, Bob, Gary, Martin, Steve and Sam, this also meant we could not start building until this was done and tested, which was about June before we could do anything.
Also spent time this year cutting back the trees and bushes to able us to go in and out down the lane rather than go across the fields this was with the help of Shepton Carnival Committee, Ray and his merry men!! It’s made such a difference.
Angie and John started on the generator, Pete and Martin the tractor and the rest on the cart. This took a 3rd at Bridgwater 2nd at Shepton, 3rd at Wells. Gangs and Features "Best Tableau Pose" joint winner "Most Original" joint 3rd "Lighting" runner up "Artwork" runner up and "Best Local in Procession"
In 1988, the club moved its headquarters to the Kings Arms Inn, Leg Square and membership dropped slightly this year.In 1989, the club had to move its building site to Lamberts Hill Farm, on land owned by Mr Edward Stone.1990 was hampered by a break in at the building site at the start of the year which resulted in the loss of thousands of pounds of equipment. Later in the year, the club was told that it had to apply for planning permission and after just spending out to buy a tractor, this was a difficult year for the club with membership as low as 14.1991 saw 6 new members join and the entry 'Worlds Apart' was awarded 'Most Improved Entry' by Mid Somerset Gangs and Features and 4th at Bridgwater.The club decorated the tractor and generator for the first time in 1992 and were awarded 'Most Original Entry' by Mid Somerset Gangs and Features for their entry 'Statues of Rock'.
The club won 17 trophies with 'Inn Signs' and was placed first in class at Wells and Glastonbury Carnivals. Other trophies included 'Best Artwork', 'Tableau Pose', Best Dressed Tractor Driver' and 'Originality'.1997 saw the 10th Anniversary of the club, membership had swollen to 25 and produced another successful entry 'Kaleidoscope of Colour' which won 14 trophies including once again the County Cup for Best Dressed Tractor Driver.1998 was the most memorable year to date with the club deciding to build a shed in which to store and build the cart. The shed was built in 12 weekends far quicker than expected which was just as well as the weather for the rest of the year was terrible. The club was approached by its landlord at Lamberts Hill with an offer of purchasing an acre of land that the shed was on. With an offer of sponsorship from Dr Marten Shoe producers R Griggs and Co Ltd, the club decided to accept the deal.
2001 saw the clubs dream come true, but at the start of the year it was thought that we might not make it to carnival. Our fund-raising was hit by the foot & mouth crisis for the first part of the year and with no Glastonbury Festival funds were hard to come by. A good second six months saw the clubs fortunes turn a complete circle, money was raised and the theme was decided, it would be 'The Tales of Beatrix Potter' an idea by Jonathan Emery and Jane Loxton, a lot of hard work by everyone paid off as the cart was placed first at five carnivals and with a second and a joint first at the other two carnivals the club was awarded the county championship for tableaux, receiving the new Biffen 50th anniversary cup along with 27 other trophies from around the circuit this was to be Shambles finest moment.
In 2004 Shelia Petherbridge decided to have another go at designing a cart. This time it was based on the books by Cicely Mary Barker all about Flower Fairies through the seasons. ''The Flower Fairies Collection''. Shelia also helped make the very bright and colorful costumes. Tony Marries spent 3 months making flowers, Carol Gooding spent 3 months painting all the different fairies, Bob Mcletchie and Dorcus Casey also spent months carving and making the giant swallows for this cart. Shelia’s partner, Dennis Clothier lent us one of his giant snails. Once again Shambles won the Originality Cup, also 2nd Best Costumes and second Best Artwork.2005 Dr Who landed! This was the idea of Tracey Witcombe who was an avid fan having watched it from when she was a little girl from behind the settee!
This was quite an adventurous cart with lots of models to build, which Tony Marries took on. The 9 Daleks were taken on by Alan Billing and were built to scale, also a big Tardis. On this cart we had a few new young members trying it out for the first time and doing very well. Dr Who came 4th overall and took 1st in Shepton Mallet!! along with best Tableau Pose and runner up in most original entry and music.
Bugsy Malone was our 2007 entry, this was a black and white theme and put forward by Ben Morgan. Based on the film in the eighties from the prohibition times 1929. A new roof was built this year, Sadly the old one starting to fall apart.
losing some members this year including our model maker, times were tough again . We took 5th in county and 2nd for lighting, and the Dave Gooding cup for best lighting at Shepton mallet!Up popped Mary Poppins in 2008 based on the old classic 1960’s film, this was the idea of Scott Witcombe. This year was extremely hard having extending the shed in Januaryit meant that we did not have long left to build a cart. Pete set about on the tractor roof tops and chimneys etc with Angie and Clare on the art work, Steve on the 15 kites and the rest set about building the cart and generator. Considering the stress and lack of time the club did very well this year taking 24 cups including Best Tableau Pose, won by John Flagg as uncle Albert, runner up Clubs Choise, Best Music, runner up for Decorated Tractor, runner up Artwork and the one that we were all most pleased with, a new cup in memory of Dennis Clothier Best Decorated Generator! 3rd overall taking us to the county dinner.
We also had a new tractor driver this year Andy Ollis (Jugsy) who did very well!
2010 Museum life was the idea of Tracey Witcombe. It is from a film all about a Museum in America coming to life at night and the historic figuers in the displays having a conflict with each other. The caretaker eventually has it all under control. All looked fantastic at Bridgwater, when we took a 3rd, 4th at North Petherton, but sadley at Burnam problems with the tracter, we got the welding done but still had a problem with the tractor losing power. Got it back to Shepton and was decided to go out with the complete cart, we came 2nd, but at the finishing line it lost power again. So the tractor was then abandoned for Wells and Glastonbury and then decided it was not worth traveling to Weston with half a decorated cart. What a pity as the cart was fantastic. Never mind we now have 2011 to look forward to. Priority to get that tractor serviced we do not want those problems again.After a few years of several members leaving, the club declined to the point where a drastic action had to be taken. After the 2014 carnival season the club took a decision to change from their traditional tableau cart to feature. The AGM 19th January 2015 held at the Dusthole, Shepton Mallet, saw a massive increase in membership, new life had put the club back on the map. There was a lot of clubs waiting to see what Shambles will be coming out with 2015. So now long gone are our tableau days, we are now known as a feature cart club.