The World's Fair Newspaper Collection

World's Fair newspapers stored in the NFA Reading Room

Ref: NFA0085

Title: The World's Fair Newspaper Collection

Scope: This collection consists of the complete run of The World's Fair Newspaper from 1904 to the present day. Including microfilmed copies from 1904 to 1950.

Dates: 1904-present day
Level: Fonds
Extent: 40 linear metres
Name of creator: The World's Fair

Administrative / biographical history: The World’s Fair Newspaper was born out of the idea to provide a means of communication for the different showpeople in the various regions of the country.

Frank Mellor, supplier to the travelling showmen often found himself delivering messages between friends and family in different areas of the country, cross reporting on all aspects of fairgrounds and generally keeping people up to date with the latest innovations on the business. This naturally developed into the idea of a newspaper publication which would be primarily for and about travelling showpeople. In 1904, the first issue of The World's Fair was born in Oldham, Lancashire. This initially modest, single broadsheet soon became a thriving newspaper with a circulation of 20,000 and the main portal of reference for the trade.

Thomas Murphy in his ‘History of The Showmen's Guild’ writes that 'It was the first newspaper to devote its entire space to the news and interests of the travelling showmen'.

All aspects of fairground society are represented in the World's Fair, ranging from accounts of fairs in different regions, grounds to let, the buying and selling of equipment and the hiring of labour. Almost every aspect of the showman's business and personal life is catered for. Lord George Sanger's life story appeared in World's Fair before it was published as a book in 1910. In the case of other less known showmen, The World's Fair is often the only surviving record of their life in the travelling fairground.

The columns of advertising in the newspaper reflect the popularity and trends of particular rides and merchandise and overtime capture different aspects of the history of the travelling fairground. The advertising space in the early issues was dominated by film companies, fairground suppliers and makers of living vans and rides, and is an important source of reference for identifying early manufacturers.

The World’s Fair Newspaper is invaluable in illustrating the changes in the material culture of travelling people, not only in the workplace but also the domestic environment. It contains weekly reports of local fairs throughout the United Kingdom including the types of amusements on show, the names of the showmen visiting the fair and local press coverage.

In terms of the documentary evidence relevant to research, the World's Fair is the most crucial of all the sources related to the history of travelling fairs and showpeople and is a rich source of material for researching all aspects of travelling entertainment over the past 100 years.

Related Collections:
Source: World’s Fair Newspaper and others
System of arrangement: Boxed by year in chronological order
Subjects: Fairgrounds, Circus, Showpeople, Fairground Rides, Fairground Art, Magic, Travelling Entertainment, Living Wagons, Transport, Animal Acts, Boxing, Fairground Shows, Performers, Steam Preservation, Fairground Organs, Menageries
Conditions of access: Items are available to view by appointment in the NFA reading room. Microfilm equipment must be booked prior to visit
Restrictions: Issues between 1904 and 1950 must be viewed in microfilm due to fragility
Copyright: Under license from World's Fair Newspapers
Finding aids: No finding aid available