Bright lights lit up the Market Place and surrounding
streets once again when Ilkeston's Annual Charter Fair took place
in October 2001. Spreading through the town centre like an octopus,
many of the favourite attractions were back and one or two new
ones as well.
"Big Ben" returned for a second year and this time
it towered high on Pimlico adding another dimension to the normal
skyline alongside the tower of St Mary's and the spire of the
United Reformed Church. Dwarfing the "Magic Mouse"
roller coaster and the spinning "Frisbee", "Big
Ben" accelerated the fun seekers high into the sky and must
have provided some great views over the surrounding area. I'm
afraid I was not one of them preferring to keep my feet on terra
firma. There were many takers though all doing their best to
enjoy the 749th Charter Fair and paying little heed to the changeable
All the traditional favourites could be found including
the "Big Wheel", the "Waltzer" and even the
old "Gallopers" alongside more modern thrill rides
that make you feel dizzy just looking at them. But even the simpler
attractions like the "Fun House" (below right) kept
this group of youngsters well entertained as they tumbled about
in the revolving barrel.
This year I wanted a different angle on the Fair
as well as all the usual shots of moving rides and flashing lights
so I took a walk around the site on Thursday morning. Preparations
were in hand for the official opening at mid-day even though
the Fair had been in full swing the previous night. From outside
the Town Hall I was able to obtain this photo (below left) from
behind the microphones where the Civic Dignitaries would conduct
the opening ceremony at noon. The bells that were presented to
Erewash Borough Council in 1987 by James Mellors and Anthony
Harris of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain were in place,
ready to signal the official opening.
The Ceremonial Bells
Still looking for a different angle, I took
these photos looking down on the Market Place and South Street
to illustrate how the town centre take over maintains the tradition
of the Fair being one of the oldest and largest street fairs
Pat Collins is a name that has been synonymous with
Ilkeston Fair for many years and it was there again this year
on the cab of this lorry together with the proud claim to be
the "King Of Showmen".
One notable absentee from the Fair in 2001 was the
"Giant Wheel" that had made its debut the previous
year. In its place this windmill type ride (left), the "Superspin"
stood high above the shuttered stalls below. A row of seats at
another stall (right) had collected some of the overnight rain
but once dried they would be full of excited fair-goers later
in the day.
In the past there has been some dissent expressed
by certain parties in the community about the disruption to normal
town life but I think this photo shows the resolve of the townsfolk.
Whilst youngsters sit expectantly on the steps of the "Waltzer"
and workers in the background make final preparations before
the opening, other inhabitants of the town proceed about their
Nottingham's Goose Fair was featured on both local TV stations
a couple of weeks before Ilkeston's 749th Fair but this merited
not a mention on either channel. I just hope that next year's,
the 750th, will be regarded as newsworthy and does not pass unnoticed.
Goose Fair still has a way to go to catch up!