Ilkeston - Fair Time! (The 759th Annual Charter Fair)
w/e 23 October 2011
All this week's pictures were taken
with a Kodak DX6490
As Christmas is to December and Morecambe is to Wise,
Ilkeston in mid October means only one thing to the town - it's
So just before noon on Thursday I mingled with the crowd assembling
outside the Town Hall to witness the opening of the 759th Annual
Charter Fair. The fair had actually been in full swing the previous
night but the ringing of the bells (just visible towards the
bottom right hand corner in the image above) by the Mayor of
Erewash signified the official start of the fair which runs until
As the clock on St Mary's Church tower inched towards the hour
(see top right) the crowd waited patiently and expectantly as
the National Anthem was played before the loud music from the
rides heralded the opening.
It's the location of the fair that makes it so special as the
rides, sideshows and stalls occupy the whole of the town centre
streets and adjacent car parks. A couple of minutes after the
opening the view back across the Market Place from the churchyard
showed the tightly packed attractions with, from the left, the
Shooting Gallery, Waltzer, Cakewalk and Scream blocking more
roundabouts and stalls in front of the Co-Op, Town Hall and Sir
John Warren to say nothing of the Big Wheel at the end of Wharncliffe
It's later though that the fair really comes alive when the music
and the bright lights bombard the town with noise and brightness
as many of the rides seen in the previous image (viewed here
from the opposite side to the previous image) compete for customers
under the watchful gaze of the clock faces in the church tower.
It's a similar scene on the Queen Street car park where barricades
across the mouth of the road prevent traffic from accessing the
town centre for the duration of the fair.
Pimlico car park is also covered with thrill rides with several
satisfying the need for speed. When I was much younger, the Waltzer
was considered a thrill ride but it seems pretty tame compared
to those that visit the town nowadays. There are of course also
children's rides and fast food stalls for the younger and less
And it's the same story on the East Street car park adjacent
to the Albion Leisure Centre where a Tagada, one of two at this
year's fair, had been erected.
I saw several people walking about with prizes they had won but
this particular dragon was still awaiting a winner on a gentle
horse racing game.
There were more horses on East Street but these didn't race.
The galloping horses and ostriches carousel used to occupy the
prime spot on the Market Place but even though they have been
relegated in recent years to a less obvious position outside
the Albion Centre, the traditional roundabout with its fairground
organ still attracts many fair-goers.
And tradition was to the fore at the Erewash Museum's Fair Day
on Saturday with the Gavioli organ and associated marionettes
on display. By Sunday the fair had all but disappeared but will
return next October for the 760th anniversary of the Charter.