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 Fair Time!

The Opening

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 Saturday.
Expectant Crowd

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.
Selection of Rides

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 Road.
Light & Noise

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.
Queen Street Rides

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 Speed

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 adventurous.

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.
Gavioli Organ Display

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.

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