Ilkeston - The 761st Annual Charter Fair
w/e 20 October 2013
All this week's pictures were taken
with a Kodak DX6490
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.
Councillor 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 countrys seriously
ill young people. Read more about the awards and Alexander by
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.
Ilkeston 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).
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.
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.
It's at night too that the noise gets louder and even the Big
Wheel seems to spin that little bit faster.
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.
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.
The 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
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: