Ilkeston - Fair Week
w/e 21 October 2018
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
766th Charter Fair

Notices start to appear in October advising that the town centre roads will be closed when the Annual Charter Fair takes place later in the month. The travelling showmen start to arrive the weekend before and they start to build the Fair on Tuesday with it being opened for business on Wednesday evening.


The official Royal Charter that allows the Fair to be held was granted in 1252 which makes this year the 766th anniversary and the Charter states that the Fair can be held "on the first Thursday after the first Sunday after the 11th". Just before noon on Thursday this year there didn't seem to be many people and it looked fairly quiet on the Market Place.
Official Opening

That's because they were all gathered outside the Town Hall for the official opening ceremony and the ringing of the bells to signify the start of the Fair.

All those gathered for the opening were also entertained by a firework display from the top of the Town Hall, juggling stilt walkers and singing by Johnny Victory.
Free Ride

When I was growing up our morning lessons at a nearby school finished at 11:55am and we all then dashed up to the Market Place hoping to take advantage of a free ride on the Big Wheel, Waltzer, Dodgems or Gallopers that were all situated around the Town Hall. These days the Mayor, Mayoress and all the visiting civic leaders still enjoy the privilege of a free ride and vouchers are handed out to other lucky recipients so that the mad scramble of years gone by is avoided.
Under Way

As everyone dispersed after the opening the town centre streets looked a lot busier than earlier as the Fair got under way again.
Big Wheel

But it's when darkness falls and the lights come on that the Fair gets into full swing.

I mentioned earlier that in my youth the Gallopers were always on the Market Place and they were usually placed between the Waltzer and the Dodgems. In more recent times they have lost that prime position and are usually to be found on the Albion Centre car park. They were there again this year but there was also a second carousel back on the Market Place although this year it stood on the other side of the Dodgems.

The Pimlico car park contained mainly thrill rides and each night the cacophony of noise accompanied the whirling rides, flashing lights and smoke from the special effects. It was nice to see on Thursday night but the rides were not for me thank you very much!

Of course no Fair in Ilkeston would be complete without the Cakewalk which always reminds me of my Dad. Working as a bus conductor he was used to balancing whilst collecting fares on both lower and upper decks of double-decker buses so the Cakewalk was no problem for him. All these years later it was still a popular attraction of Saturday afternoon.

And Saturday was also the day when there was a stem engine, fairground organ and model fair display at the Erewash Museum. The Fair closed at 11:00pm on Saturday and Fair Week came to an end as the Market Place was cleared and roads reopened by noon on Sunday. The showmen began to move on to their next location but they will be back next year for the 767th Charter Fair ready to do it all again.

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