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All the fun of the fair…in 1954

carouselI love meeting my old school friends from Shipton. A chance encounter whilst out shopping recently, reminded me of happy days with them all those years ago. I remember when, aged about 10 in 1954, how excited we all became when the posters were put up on the telegraph poles to say the Fair was coming to Milton.
The families’ caravans and big lorries usually started pulling into the recreation ground on the Monday; my mother said they always came early to get their washing done. Sometimes their children would attend primary school for a week. They must have found it very strange, or perhaps they had grown used to going to school in different villages.
The men would assemble the rides and stalls very slowly during the week. Most of us young children would rush home for tea after school and arrange to meet and go up to Milton to see what was going on! We were obviously a bit of a nuisance as we would mischievously run about round the unfinished stalls and rides, and the men shouted at us to clear off.
Then, with joy mounting, on Thursday afternoon after school, you could hear the rumble of noise and music from the fairground as it all sprung into magical life. We eagerly grabbed our small amount of pocket money so we could go on as many rides as possible before the price went up at 7 o’clock. I can’t really remember now – was it three old pennies (a thrup’ny bit) or a sixpence (a tanner) to ride my favourite gallopers?
I remember one year I had rushed back home to St. Michael’s Close for some more money to have yet another go on the gallopers, when the man collecting the fare let me have an extra go for free. The sounds and sights of the gallopers still thrill me sixty five years on. But, I believe, they are only used two or three times a year these days, one of these being Witney Feast. Still, each time has its own magical memory, and the photo shows that horses continue to bring joy to children today.

Phyllis Clarke

June – July 2017