Sunday, 16 November 2014

Loughborough fair, 2014

So, the fair which comes to Loughborough is supposedly the biggest street fair in the country? I hope you didn't miss it this year: I'll post some pictures at the bottom of this blog post, but first, do take a read through these newspaper reports of the fair as it was in 1827, 1831, 1837, 1846, 1847, 1852, and 1853: It was quite different in those days, and was much more than just a pleasure fair.
The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser, (Sat Nov 17, 1827, issue 886) reports the 1827 fair as follows:
"Loughborough Fair, Nov. 13.- The fair was a large one, and business brisk. Grass being plentiful, and keep low, all kinds of livestock were in request, and experienced an advance in price: milk cows were very dear; fat cattle and lean stock were higher. In the horse market, there was very little to be seen, except animals of the common and inferior breed. Pigs sold higher than has been known for a long time. The general character of the fair was one of business, bustle and activity.- During the day a heifer went into the liquor shop of Mr. Hopkinson, and round the counter into the parlour; a person passing observing her, opened the door, and she came out quietly without doing any injury."

In 1831, the same newspaper (Sat Nov 9, 1831, issue 1104) carried this report of the fair:

"Loughborough Fair, on Monday was, owing to the fineness of the season, much better attended than for some years previous; many cattle were shown, and a considerable number of good store beasts sold at rather reduced priced; the best fat stock fetched 6s per stone, inferior ones 5s to 5s. 6d.. Horses were not so numerous, and fetched very fair prices; colts sold particularly well. While Mr. John Johnson was looking at the shows, he had his pockets eased of 12s and Mr. Cresswell of 4s 6d.."

The fair of 1837 was covered in much less detail by the same newspaper (Sat Nov 18, issue 1409):

"Loughborough Fair.- A very good fair, the largest known for many years. At stock were about 6s. per stone, but not much in demand. Lean and middling sorts met a good price, and were much in demand. The horse fair was a large one, but few were in request."

The 1846 event was extensively reported upon in the same newspaper (Sat Nov 12, issue 1877):

"Loughborough Fair was commenced on Friday morning. There was a large supply of fat and store stock, and a goodly number of buyers in attendance, and business was transacted at fair prices. The statutes for the hiring of servants were held on Monday, when a large influx of servants and masters and mistresses gave an unusual appearance of activity and business to the town. The watchmen were on duty and vigilant, but found little cause for interference. Three young men were apprehended on Saturday night for being drunk and disorderly, and were taken before the Rev. J. Dudley, at Sileby, who convicted two of them, and one, who was also charged with assaulting one of the watchmen, was liberated on his own recognizances to appear on Thursday."

And in 1847, the newspaper (Sat Nov 20, issue 1929) excelled themselves:

"Loughborough Winter Fair, which is the principal one in the year, commenced on Saturday, and was more numerously attended than for several years past. The supply of fat stock was moderate, but excellent in quality, and sold at 6d. per pound. The number of store cattle was exceedingly large, and there were a great number of buyers, some from Birmingham and other distant places. The prices were rather higher. The horse fair was also much larger than we have seen of late, and for good animals high prices were asked. Those of the class denominated “screws” are generally more numerous than good, and appeared so on Saturday. The dealers in them appear to be on the increase. Their tricks have been frequently exposed by the newspaper press, but they still find dupes. Monday was the principal day for holiday folks, “the statutes”, as it is commonly called, but which not being appointed by the High Constable, is properly “a meeting for the hiring of servants”, being held on that day. The weather was exceedingly fine, and there was a great influx of visitors."

The winter fair of 1852 was covered in the Nottinghamshire Guardian (Fri Nov 19, pg. 7, issue 347):

"Loughborough winter fair commenced on Saturday last. The show of cattle was not so large as usual, the flood preventing some of the farmers of the neighbourhood bringing their stock. There was a good attendance of dealers, and good beasts of all descriptions sold at satisfactory prices. In the horse fair, there was a good demand for good animals, and the few (very few) shown soon changed hands at tolerably good prices. The statutes was held on Monday, but, like the cattle fair, was not so numerously attended as in previous years. Female servants and boys obtained good wages, and a good deal of hiring was done. The holiday fair was the worst seen at Loughborough for some years, the attractions for pleasure-seekers not only being few in number, but of meanest description. The weather was very favourable during the whole of the fair, to which the capacity of the attendance may mainly be attributed."  

And finally, in 1853, the same newspaper (Thurs Nov 17, pg. 8, issue 401) posted the following report:

"Loughborough Fair and Statutes.- Loughborough fair commenced on Monday, and was pretty well supplied with fat and store stock, the former fetching good prices. There were no sheep, nor was there any apparent room for them, the ground being occupied by the various competitors for the patronage of the sight-seeing public. The horse fair could not boast of many valuable animals, but there was a plentiful supply of the class usually denominated “screws” which seemed to hang on hand, as many were to be seen in the streets till late in the evening. The statutes were held on Tuesday, and were numerously attended both by masters and servants, and good wages were generally obtained. The weather being favourable, the fair and statutes together caused an unusual influx of visitors, greater perhaps than at any former period. There was no collection of wild beasts, but there were plenty of places of amusement for all classes – amongst them were Plimmer’s Model Gallery, which, being attended by an excellent brass band, was the centre of attraction, - Rayner’s theatre – Crystal Palace – Camp at Cobham – Shooting Gallery, with about a dozen other minor shooting establishments – tumblers of first rate qualifications – wonderful performances of hares – Harris’s boxing “academy” etc.. The juvenile portion were highly amused with the fly-boats, and horses – the latter being of an improved “breed” and more like the living animals than the rude shapeless things usually seen on such occasions There were dancing parties in the evening ad infinitum, and a more gay or joyous fair was never before witnessed in this town, all parties having apparently made up their minds to please and to be pleased. We have not heard of any of the usual tricks being practised upon the unwary, or of any pocket-picking, but there were a great many all the “worse for liquor” and consequently rather quarrelsome, and who would have to wear the marks of their folly for some time afterwards: some had to go home minus their coats, hats, caps etc., which in the scuffles their kind friends had volunteered to “take care of “ for them."

I wonder what people from these times would make of today's fair?


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