Ilkeston - Living The Dream
w/e 25 October 2015
All of this week's pictures were
taken with a Kodak DX6490
Some people dream of running away to join the Circus,
others of travelling to far flung places. I suppose being a member
of the Showmen's Guild comes close to combining those dreams
as they move around the country from place to place with their
In previous years I have photographed Ilkeston's annual Charter
Fair from various angles, high and low, near and far. I have
looked at various themes such as the artwork and the people but
it was the slogan on the back of one of Pat Collins' vehicles
that inspired this year's selection on the 763rd anniversary
of Royal Charter that enables the Fair to be held in the town
To live the dream of being a travelling showman, you must be
able to manoeuvre a large vehicle, like these at the top of Market
Street some of which generate power for the rides, into the tightest
And you'll have to get used to working in all weathers even before
the Fair opens to set up the stalls and rides. Wednesday was
a wet day but waterproof covers kept the rides dry for the evening
The day before had been a lovely autumn day but as lorries and
trucks rolled up to unload the rides there was some sort of organised
chaos on the Market Place. No pun intended but the ride next
to the Waltzer is called Chaos.
Also on Tuesday more vehicles stretched
from the Market Place (left) along South Street (above) as another
roundabout was inched into place. A few locals complained about
the disruption but this is what dreams are made of. Others eagerly
anticipate the Fair although some of the Fair workers must feel
like it's working on a building site as another panel was hauled
into position on the Helter Skelter (right).
The showmen form their own little communities and take over many
of the town centre car parks as well as part of the recreation
ground but moving from place to place means they are unlikely
to find their dream location and find they have new neighbours
each week. This one was on the Mount Street car park.
On the Thursday of the 763rd Fair, civic dignitaries from other
local councils and children from local schools were invited to
witness the reading of the Charter and see the Mayor of Erewash
Councillor Val Custance ring the bells to signify the official
opening the Fair. Maybe some of the children will dream of becoming
Mayor themselves one day and performing the same ceremony.
Like many of her predecessors, in her opening remarks the Mayor
commented that the opening of the Fair was one of the highlights
of the civic year and then, also like her predecessors, enjoyed
a free ride on the Dodgems accompanied by Chief Executive of
the Council, Jeremy Jaroszek.
But if you do dream about the Fair it's probably the loud music,
flashing lights of rides like Over The Top and the nightly atmosphere
that encapsulates what most people think of this week in Ilkeston's
It's probably the only time of year too when you can buy German
Sausages, Mexican food, Hot Chestnuts or Pasty and Potatoes in
the town centre.
In addition of course there was as all the other usual fast food,
burgers, chips, hot mushy peas and this year you could even buy
a portion of noodles. With sweets, candy floss and biscuits also
on sale throughout the Fair, there must be several hundred people
employed in manning the stalls at what many people would regard
as unsocial hours. Bear a thought too for the showmen who must
work through the night on Saturday to dismantle everything and
pack it all away. There will be no dreaming for them on Saturday
night as they work to clear the town centre and get ready to
move on by Sunday lunchtime.
So the showman's life may not be the one everyone dreams of but
you'll know where to look if you want to see me on top of the
Big Wheel or high up on the Sky Swing, won't you? In your dreams!