Ilkeston - The 761st Annual Charter Fair
w/e 20 October 2013
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
761st Charter Fair

The annual Charter Fair was officially opened on Thursday 17th October and this year marked the 761st anniversary granting the Charter to the town by King Henry III in 1252.

Reading The Charter

Official PartyAssembled GuestsCouncillor Michael E Wallis (left), Erewash Borough Council's Lead Member for Culture and Leisure, in his remarks at the opening ceremony in front of the Civic Leaders from other Councils and the general public (right) commented on the changes to the Fair since those distant days in the thirteenth century. Then the Chief Executive of the Council, Jeremy Jaroszek, read the ancient Charter that grants the town the right to hold the Fair every October.
The Mayor of Erewash, Councillor Val Clare, officially signalled the opening of the Fair by ringing the bells and she was ably assisted by local student at Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy, Alexander Read. Alexander was recently the recipient of the "Inspirational Young Person 12-15 (male)" category in the national WellChild Awards 2013 which celebrate the inspiring qualities of some of the country’s seriously ill young people. Read more about the awards and Alexander by clicking here.
Familiar Layout

Although there have been significant changes since the beginnings of the Charter Fair, it would be quite easy to think that if you've seen one Fair you've seen them all. With rides like the Waltzer, Dodgems, Big Wheel and Cakewalk in their customary positions on the Market Place it is easy to understand why many people think that the Fair doesn't change from year to year but there are subtle alterations each time and you don't have to go that far back to notice significant differences.
In Bath Street

Bath StreetMount Street Car ParkIlkeston is still proud of the fact that it hosts one of the largest street Fairs in Europe with roundabouts stretching half way down Bath Street. Gone though during my lifetime are such things as the Boxing Booth, Coconut Shies, Bingo stalls, Wall of Death, The Whip, Skyrockets and Caterpillar. Car parks in the town centre are commandeered for the Fair and one off Mount Street becomes a caravan park (right).
Jumbo Circus

The tentacles of the Fair also stretch along South Street and the car park there accommodates more fairground attractions including more Dodgems and the Jumbo Circus to name just two.
South Street

The Fair operates during daylight until Saturday but it's at night that it really comes into its own with the lights shining brightly in the night sky and drawing crowds into the thronged streets as seen here on South Street.
Big Wheel

It's at night too that the noise gets louder and even the Big Wheel seems to spin that little bit faster.
Crazy Mouse

The Pimlico car park is the venue for many of the thrill rides including the Crazy Mouse roller coaster which usually arrives in town about a week before the rest of the Fair to enable it to be built in time for the opening. This is another of those subtle changes that although becoming a regular feature of the Fair is in fact a fairly recent addition. A few years ago there was a Big Ben ride on the Pimlico car park but has not been seen for at least a couple of years so it's becoming clear that "change" is ongoing and even though many think the Fair is the same every year, it's obviously not.
Keeping Us Safe

This year's Fair has been marshalled by an army of security staff, medics and the local constabulary to ensure the safety of everyone who attended. I'm sure PC Hamilton (right above) of the Town Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team who usually patrols the area, welcomed the extra help drafted in during the Fair though.
At The Museum

Gaviola OrganSteam Engine ModelThe Fair these days wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Erewash Museum on Saturday where we found the large steam engine with the Gaviola organ playing traditional music. Displayed on the front of the organ was a Meccano model of a steam engine - a reminder of a favourite toy from childhood days. There was also an exhibition of fairground models in the Hayloft.

Councillor Wallis at the opening had mentioned that back in Henry III's day the Fair was an opportunity for people to meet up before the winter set in to meet with old friends and enjoy a few days of fun and merriment so although the Fair is unrecognisable from back then, it just goes to show that despite all the differences, some things never change for that is a recurring feature of all the Fairs and will also feature next year at the 762nd.
On the Saturday around midday, we had a walk through the Fair to the Erewash Museum and this is the result:

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