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Fair Memories

Memories of the Fair – a poem by Holly Hughes

I remember…

Anthony Jarrom

“I am 72 years old and born in Loughborough and went down the fair every year I can remember. My earliest memory was whilst at Rosebery School where we were given free tickets. If I remember correctly these were for Saturday morning only. My group of friends were transport enthusiasts and spent much of our spare time watching steam trains. The fair bought an added bonus as the showmen parked their towing vehicles and generators in the streets around the town centre. These were of great interest to us as many had been converted from commercial vehicles into towing tractors and the like. These were often adorned with artistic liveries like the rides themselves. I recall Foden, ERF and Scammell examples among those attending the fair along with a fine collection of travellers’ caravans. The caravans were not of the metal or fibre glass examples seen today but coachwork made, huge in size and often painted in artistic designs. The rides I recall were the Cake Walk, the Caterpillar, the Gallopers (one I recall was steam-powered), the Waltzers and the Dodgems. Later came the Twist and the Jets. Slowly the old traditional rides died out, replaced by the newer high thrill high tech ones. It is still nice just to walk through the fair and soak up the atmosphere, buy some brandy snap and even look out to see what the modern-day showmen are using for towing vehicles.”

 

 

 

Donald Owen

“I arrived in Loughborough from London in September 1965, to start my five year Engineering apprenticeship with Brush Electrical Engineering Ltd. I was also at Loughborough College of Further Education, and Loughborough Technical College at Radmoor Road, and when November arrived, everyone told me about the great event, the famous Loughborough Fair, in the Town Centre in the first week of November, and when it started with all the rides within the Town Centre opposite the Town Hall, I was rapped!

The Fair was a fantastic event, with all the folks living outside Loughborough came over to enjoy the rides with their children, and they came all over from the villages and towns of Derby, Leicester, Shepshed, Quorn, Hathern, East Leake, Nottingham, and we all had a lovely time riding in the “dodgems” and trying out all the stalls with food and the young children enjoyed the special slides that was in the Town Square!!

Every year after that, we looked forward to the Loughborough Fair, and after every day, we use to finish the day with a drink at the “Golden Fleece” pub down Granby Street, and all the pubs around the town, was packed with people drinking, eating all food, like Fish & Chips, Ham Sandwiches and Ploughman’s Lunch, with a pint of beer, at the “Barley Mow” pub down main street.

I sure miss the Loughborough Fair, when I immigrated to Perth, Western Australia in 1981.

There is nothing that equates with the Loughborough Fair, and I have since worked all over the world in the Oil & Gas Industry as a Corporate Quality International Manager, and on my yearly visits to Loughborough in September, we always reminisce about the “good old days” of the Loughborough Fair.”

 

Photo provided by Martin Sentance

 

 

Mike Jones, ex Mayor of Charnwood

“We met at what was then Loughborough’s Essoldo Cinema, in April 1962 and spent a lot of time at the local village fairs during the spring and summer of that year. However, Loughborough Fair was what we were really waiting for, and my wife Marj, knitted two chunky jumpers to keep us warm during our visits to the fair that year. As we had met at a Rock ‘n Roll Dance, our favourite ride was the Rock ‘n Roll Waltzers, which were faster than the other Waltzers. Other rides we enjoyed were the Whip, the Whirlaround or Cyclone, the Paratroopers, and more gently, the Golden Galloping Horses and the Cake Walk.

I never dreamed then, that many years later in 2004, I would be opening the Fair, as Mayor of Charnwood with Marj at my side as Mayoress. We still enjoyed the rides then and still do today.

…One of the things I did not mention is that one year as a child I won a goldfish, except that when I got it home, the “gold” fell off to reveal a rather sad looking minnow. Another occasion was when, as a teenager, I aimed a wooden ball with all my strength at two coconuts which were close together, the ball hit one and bounced onto the other, knocking both to the ground. The astonished stall holder was, however, quick to recover his wits and ran up to me shouting “That only counts as one, you know.”

 

Photo provided by Mike Jones

 

Jack Edwards

“There exists such events, like the first day of spring or the bi-annual changing of the clocks, that provide more enjoyment in their anticipation than they do from their occurrence. Anticipating them is a reason to be optimistic, a cause for conversation, a chronological signpost that something in the world is about to change. The passing of these sorts of occurrences serve to direct your conceptual compass in sight of the next, for there is little reason to reflect on them. They maintain the status quo, the tempo. By Royal Charter, the annual travelling fair occurs in Loughborough on the second Thursday of every November. Whilst it serves to many as a spectacle of entertainment, ‘the fair’ sits perfectly in the yearly calendar as a pre-cursor to the festive season, a chronological signpost to some.”

 

Photo provided by Mitchell Henderson

Simon Austin

“It is the mid 80s and I am at the fair with friends including Andrew. We see the Meteor(ite) ahead – the gravity-defying, spinning, tilting cage where you find yourself repeatedly suspended whilst gazing down to earth (by some interesting centripetal/centrifugal physics).

Here it is in 1958! https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/nfca/researchandarticles/meteorite

‘Got to have a go at that’ we say. As our turn comes round we file in through the entrance slot and walk quickly around the periphery to find a space. I am in position and look across to see that Andrew is the last person in and, having removed his glasses to keep them safe, he is scrambling around trying to find the last vacant place. The cage is spinning and eventually he finds it and tries to fix the farcical safety chain across his waist. By this time I am wetting myself with laughter enhanced by the priceless expression of horror on his face. The ride is brilliant and that distraction plus the delirious screaming probably saved me from any sickness or worse.”

 

Photo provided by Loughborough Library Local Studies Volunteers

Jim Orr

“It was on the Barrel of Laughs that my wife and I cemented our tryst. We missed this year but we and our children and grandchildren have enjoyed every year until 2020. In our thirties, we would ease off on a good beer starter. In my forties, I might watch as my son would be a bringer of a girl less able to hold a hotdog cocktail. In my fifties, I funded my eldest daughter on a dare for the tallest ride – she did and I bet she could see the Urals. In my sixties, my son and I just go for the spinning, revolving, turning, wild-looking but scary pink-looking monsters. The scariest moment? ’50cc Val swinging me on a boat on a Ferris Wheel circa 1981.”

 

Photo provided by John Barker

Gill Pritchard

“My cousin and I used to go to the Fair as well on our own and, for some reason, we always had to have something matching in our outfits. Our favourite item was a ‘jelly bag’ – a loosely knitted bobble hat! But when I was at Junior School we used to get tickets for free rides given out at school and always walked down to hear the Mayor declare the Fair open.”

Abida Akram

“Seeing the funfair on my way home from work for the first time in November 2010 took my breath away. Rides were just inches away from roofs and shops, right in the middle of town! I had never seen anything like it as I had just moved to Loughborough that summer. My heart beat faster in time with the music and flashing lights and I felt excited and could almost taste the candy floss just from it’s sweet smell in the air. The atmosphere was great in the dusk, and excitement and adrenaline flowed in time with the loud music. My breath was swept away again at some of the amazing rides. The smell of frying onions wafted my way and suddenly I was hungry for a hotdog with those onions and mustard. It took me back to my childhood (in the North in the 1960s and 70s) when you couldn’t contain yourself at such a special event and as a child in those days there was also the fear of getting lost so a close eye was kept on parents and siblings because the fair was always in the middle of a field and very muddy and this was before the time of mobile phones!

I have lived and worked in Manchester, London, Yorkshire and West Midlands, but had never seen anything like this in the centre of a town. I was entranced, hypnotised by the lights. It brought a big beaming smile onto my face. Oh how I missed the fair during lockdown due to Covid-19 in November 2020! For me this is part of the excitement of living in Loughborough, alongside the historic market and annual Picnic in the Park and the Loughborough Mela, all so accessible right in the middle of town.”

 

Photo provided by Mitchell Henderson

Martin Sentance

 

“My own memories of the Fair are from my earliest visit when my Dad took me from our home here in Woodhouse Eaves on the 602 Midland Red bus to the Fair in 1963. The sights and sounds were all a bit overwhelming

and sca


Into my teenage years I went to the Fair most years with my mates, as we had all left school now and as apprentices at local businesses we had a little bit of money to spend. I recall the Dodgems were usually outside Clemersons toy shop near to the Essoldo cinema. The Charles Thurlston jets were in the main market place outside Woolworths and it still looked a scary ride. But the sights and sounds of the loud music from the competing rides was brilliant. All the big rides played the latest hits as loud as they could, with Tommy James and the Shondells ‘Mony Mony’ being a standout hit of that year (1968).
ry then, at the age of 10. But is was all good fun, holding my Dads hand and having a go on some of the smaller rides. I discovered how sticky candy floss was and got it on my face, my hands, everywhere!

We all thought we were ‘tough lads’ and going on the ‘Speedway’ ride and standing up was the big thing to do, but if you were over 6ft tall you had to duck to dodge the light bulbs overhead!”

 

Photo provided by Martin Sentance