The 749th Charter Fair - October 2001

The Bells Ring Out

Fun on Pimlico

Bright lights lit up the Market Place and surrounding streets once again when Ilkeston's Annual Charter Fair took place in October 2001. Spreading through the town centre like an octopus, many of the favourite attractions were back and one or two new ones as well.

"Big Ben" returned for a second year and this time it towered high on Pimlico adding another dimension to the normal skyline alongside the tower of St Mary's and the spire of the United Reformed Church. Dwarfing the "Magic Mouse" roller coaster and the spinning "Frisbee", "Big Ben" accelerated the fun seekers high into the sky and must have provided some great views over the surrounding area. I'm afraid I was not one of them preferring to keep my feet on terra firma. There were many takers though all doing their best to enjoy the 749th Charter Fair and paying little heed to the changeable weather.

All the traditional favourites could be found including the "Big Wheel", the "Waltzer" and even the old "Gallopers" alongside more modern thrill rides that make you feel dizzy just looking at them. But even the simpler attractions like the "Fun House" (below right) kept this group of youngsters well entertained as they tumbled about in the revolving barrel.

This year I wanted a different angle on the Fair as well as all the usual shots of moving rides and flashing lights so I took a walk around the site on Thursday morning. Preparations were in hand for the official opening at mid-day even though the Fair had been in full swing the previous night. From outside the Town Hall I was able to obtain this photo (below left) from behind the microphones where the Civic Dignitaries would conduct the opening ceremony at noon. The bells that were presented to Erewash Borough Council in 1987 by James Mellors and Anthony Harris of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain were in place, ready to signal the official opening.
The Ceremonial Bells

 Still looking for a different angle, I took these photos looking down on the Market Place and South Street to illustrate how the town centre take over maintains the tradition of the Fair being one of the oldest and largest street fairs in Europe.
Pat Collins is a name that has been synonymous with Ilkeston Fair for many years and it was there again this year on the cab of this lorry together with the proud claim to be the "King Of Showmen".

One notable absentee from the Fair in 2001 was the "Giant Wheel" that had made its debut the previous year. In its place this windmill type ride (left), the "Superspin" stood high above the shuttered stalls below. A row of seats at another stall (right) had collected some of the overnight rain but once dried they would be full of excited fair-goers later in the day.
In the past there has been some dissent expressed by certain parties in the community about the disruption to normal town life but I think this photo shows the resolve of the townsfolk. Whilst youngsters sit expectantly on the steps of the "Waltzer" and workers in the background make final preparations before the opening, other inhabitants of the town proceed about their business.

Nottingham's Goose Fair was featured on both local TV stations a couple of weeks before Ilkeston's 749th Fair but this merited not a mention on either channel. I just hope that next year's, the 750th, will be regarded as newsworthy and does not pass unnoticed. Goose Fair still has a way to go to catch up!

Home Page
Back to Annual Charter Fair Index
Special Features Index

Terms & Conditions of Use
This website is copyright but licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.
Please credit the photographer Garth Newton, or add a link to these pages.