World's Fair Newspaper Extracts 1901-1910
The Fairground of the Future
Important circular issued by Mr Pat Collins
It is doubtful if there is another Traveller in Great Britain whose name is so well known as Mr. Pat Collins, and it is a Traveller's duty, when words are spoken by any of our leading lights to give them consideration and with idea in mind we give prominence to the Circular just issued by Mr. Pat Collins. That he has given the matter a deal of consideration before publishing we do not for a moment doubt, and it will be unwise for our readers to do anything different when they have read it. Think the matter over. Of course a lot of people will say this puritanism is getting a bit too thick. Well no doubt it is, but remember first, that it is your living you have to consider and that almost every other amusements in the land is having to suffer from the so-called puritanism. It is a craze that may live a year or years. One never knows. But while it does last, Travellers must be on their guard, and see that outsiders, from whom they derive their living, have no cause to say a wrong word against the calling. We give a copy of the Circular in full:-
Notice to Tenants. Gondola Works, Walsall.
I beg to remind all my Tenants and the families and servants, that we are the Caterers for the Great British Public, and that the eyes of the Public are always upon us and our business.
From year to year it becomes more difficult to get and to keep Fair Grounds in good and central positions; it is therefore behoves us, one and all, to do all that lays in our power, to avoid giving cause for talk and objections. I therefore ask you all to do whatever lays in your power, to obtain and maintain the respect of our Public, our Patrons, and to give our adversaries no chance to find fault with us, or pick flies out of us. Keep your Shows, Stalls and especially your Living Waggons scrupulously clean and tidy; don't keep your doors and windows wide open, when you are performing domestic duties. Keep your Living Waggons behind the scenes. Doors should never face the crowd.
Our mothers can do a lot in this matter, by setting a good example to the younger generation. In your dress, in your speech and in your manners, be an example to others. Don't go in large numbers to storm the public houses directly they open, and never talk business, family matters, or greviances over in them. Try and be a credit to our class, be proud of your calling and uphold its time-honoured reputation.
Our Fair Grounds must be Model Pleasure Grounds, where nothing unseemly is to be found or seen, and no foul language to be heard. In the very best interest of the whole or our community, I must insist on everybody doing his or her best to uphold our good name and reputation; and anyone infringing rules or regulations laid down for the good conduct of the Fair Grounds, I shall in future be reluctantly compelled to exclude from my grounds.
World's Fair, July 7th, 1906
Reply to Pat Collins circular
To the Editor of the World's Fair
I am a Traveller, a constant reader of the World's Fair, an advertiser in name and a paying member of the U. K. D. V. A., and with your permission I would also like to be a Twaddler. I read in your paper a week ago a copy of the circular that had been issued by Mr. Pat Collins and with all respect to Mr. Collins, it struck me at the time as being extremely funny; won't say twaddling. Of course Mr. Editor, I am with any brother Traveller who had for his ideal the betterment of our Fair Grounds, but fancy Mr P. C. having such a circular issued above his name. Will he make a start and provide sanitary accommodation. Also will he explain why a big society of which he is a prominent member goes in crowds to a public-house to hold nearly all its meetings, and why he advocates turning our Van doors away from the visitors to the Fair Ground, when a year or two or more it was proclaimed high and low, that all Travellers should invite strangers to look around our Living Vans, and see how clean and respectable we are, and anything decent will bear the light of day. Surely Mr Collins does not begrudge anyone thinking about his Circular and replying to it, as it was meant for tenants, and I don't think fair of him to try and bar anyone else's opinion. Start at the top with the big ones, and then get at the undesirables among the little ones, because they are of no use to any of us, and only serve the object of lessees in keeping them in the road to say to a desirable tenant "Oh, if you don't want to come I have plenty of Travellers waiting for your ground." And Mr. Collins has also the advantage in being able to say what he wants, but the tenant in the majority of cases has to think it. Give all a chance of saying what they want.
World's Fair, August 4th, 1906
Organs at the Alexandra Palace
The "steam music" at Alexandra Park was the subject of a motion in the action of Bronsdon v. the Alexandra Park Trustees, before Mr. Justice Buckley on Friday. Mr. Buckmaster., K. C., for the plaintiffs, asked for an injunction to restrain the defendants from making an "excruciating noise" with a steam organ. He agreed that the case must stand over, because the actual creator of the noise wished to explain how melodious and soothing it was.
Mr. Hamilton, K. C., replied that from the plaintiff's evidence it was clear there had been no noise during the past week. This thing had been going on for four years.
Mr Buckmaster: We shall hear during the week that this noise resembles the buzzing of bumble bees and suggests the country.
The motion stood for over a week.
World's Fair, August 4th, 1906
How Missing a Wife Was Traced in Paris
A London gentleman, who is endeavouring to trace his missing wife obtained a cine in a strange way, says the "Globe" Paris correspondent.
As he heard she was in Paris he went there to make inquiries. While taking a look at the "sights" he strolled into a cinematograph exhibition in the Rue Fontaine, and to his amazement, saw the likeness of his wife in a film of a character often to be met with in these shows.
The gentleman immediately went to the Commissary of Police and demanded that the exhibition should be stopped. Such, action, however, was beyond the Commissary's power, and he recommended the husband to lay his complaint before the Procureur de la Republique.
Meanwhile the detective department is acting on the cine that strangely disappeared.
World's Fair, December 28th, 1907
Deat of Mrs Hannah Waddington
Well Known Traveller Passes Away
We regret to hear of the death of Mrs. Hannah Waddington, the well known roundabout proprietress, who for many years has travelled the Yorkshire district with a motor-car roundabout. The deceased lady, was building a Spring Fair at Dewsbury, and being seized with illness, went to stay with a sister who had a residence in the town. Medical aid was at once called in, but it was of no avail, and her death took place on Thursday. The late Mrs. Waddington was very popular with all travellers, and her death has excited deep sympathy.
World's Fair, 24th April, 1909
Leonine, the Lion Face Girl
One of the most interesting freaks that has been seen for many a year is "Leonine, the Lion Faced Lady" who is now on view at Mr. Pickard's Historical Museum at Glasgow.
In an interview I had with her, I learned that she was born in Sierra Leone, on the West Coast of Africa, the history of her birth being quite as remarkable as that of her features. Miss Leonine's parents belonged to Devonshire, her father being an officer in the British Army. Shortly after his marriage he received orders to proceed with his regiment to West Africa, but his wife insisted upon accompanying him as they set out together for Sierra Leone. It was here that one night while out for a drive together their horses were suddenly attacked by a herd of lions. The heroic officer immediately seized his rifle in hopes of driving the bloodthirsty off, but to the great horror of the wife she saw first the horses and then her dearly beloved husband torn to pieces. All she could do was to scream, and then she fell to the ground unconscious. Her screams however had been heard by some of the friendly natives who were hunting in the vicinity, and who managed to keep the lions at bay while the conveyed the apparently lifeless woman to one of the native huts. Here she remained for several days, being attended by the Regimental Surgeon, but, notwithstanding every medical skill procurable, it was plainly visible that her case was hopeless, for when she regained consciousness she could not drive that horrible sight from her memory.
It was a few weeks later that this poor women gave birth to Leonine, and to the horror of all the child had the exact features of a lion's face instead of those of an ordinary child. The blow was too great for the mother and she expired a few days later. The old coloured nurse, however, who had nursed the mother, reared Leonine until she was five years old, when she was sent to England with the regiment, and handed over to an aunt on her father's side, with whom she remained until she was 16 years of age. During this time, however, her life was a complete misery, not being able to mix with other human beings, people being scared out of their lives whenever she appeared about the village. She, therefore, passed 11 years in solitary confinement her only companion being her Aunty.
A gentleman, however, who was passing through the village, happened to hear about this wonderful creature and calling upon the Aunt, persuaded him to let Leonine accompany him round the world with his travelling show. To this she eventually consented and Leonine embarked for Chicago. It was in this town that Mr. Pickard met her three years later, and her contract having expired, he engaged her there and then for his London establishment where she became the talk of the metropolis. Since then she has toured the whole of Europe, meeting with great success everywhere. Miss Leonine is of a charming disposition, people would think she was just the opposite and that she would have inherited the ferocious habits of the animals she resembled; but this is not so and this is one of the things which mostly puzzles the medical world. The lady is intelligent, can converse in several languages besides her own, and she is as docile as a lamb and as cheerful as a cricket. Readers will notice by the photo that on the left hand side of the face she has the shaggy mane of the lion; whereas on the right hand side her face is covered with the smooth fur of the lioness. The eyebrows and half closed eyes strikingly resemble the king of beasts when on the alert, whereas the flat nose and broad nostrils and hairy upper lip are identical to those of the lion.
Mr. Pickard's museum is crowded daily, and on Saturday and Monday last hundreds of people were unable to gain admission, owing to the crowds waiting their turn. Although he had the place enlarged last year, he could do with it double the size.
World's Fair, October 16th 1909
Comedy of Violin
Kentish Publican Cleverly Tricked by Wandering Musician
It is dangerous to mention the word "violin" just at present in the hearing of the landlord of a certain hostelry in Gillingham, Kent and this is why.
A few days ago a wandering violinist dropped in, and after playing a few airs made the usual collection. Then, on the pretence that he was going to sing at a local concert in the evening, and would not want his violin, he asked the landlord to mind the instrument until the affair was settled. Mine host consented, and placed the fiddle on a shelf at the back of the bar.
Shortly afterwards, a well-dressed stranger entered, called for refreshments and engaged in conversation with the landlord. Presently he remarked, "That's a fine old instrument you have, guv'nor." He asked to be allowed to examine it, and handling the instrument with the critical air of connoisseur, tried it and offered to give £5 for it. The landlord explained the circumstances under which it had been left there, and said it was not his to sell. But the stranger was keen, and gradually increased his offer to £15, without effect. Eventually, he departed, promising to call again and see if the owner would sell.
When the seedy violinist reappeared the landlord without alluding to the stranger's visit, offered £5 for the violin. The poor strolling player said he could not part with the instrument. As it was his sole means of obtaining a livelihood, but after a good deal of haggling he agreed to accept £13 for it. The landlord paid it willingly, thinking how easy he was going to clear £2.
But the connoisseur has not yet returned, and the landlord is convinced that he has not been cleverly "fleeced".
World's Fair, December 11th 1909
Mr Harry Kemp’s Picture Palace at Earlestown
Mr Harry Kemp's cinematograph show is rapidly becoming an Earlestown institution. It has been visited during the course of the last two or three weeks by people who have never entered within the precincts of a travelling show before and who never dreamt that they would ever do such a thing. The reason is obvious. Mr Kemp has laid himself open to give a good show, and one that the most fastidious person can raise no objection to, whilst comfort and order reign supreme during the time that the lantern operator is manipulating the machine that tells the picture stories. And these stories are told as dramatically as many a stage piece is acted, with like effect upon the audience, who are quite often carried away by excitement. Pathos and farce each receive their share of attention, and one has only to pay a visit or two to appreciate the reason why the name of "Kemp" has become a household name in Earlestown. The proprietors inform us that the King's funeral pictures have created almost record interest, so much so that the film produced by another photographer has been obtained so as to give further views of the scenes, made interesting by the fact that they are taken from different points of view to those shown before.
World's Fair, June 18th, 1910, pg 14
Ninety two Years of a Living Van
Oldest Show Proprietor in the Wold
To have lived in a showman's van for but eight years less than a century is the unique experience of Mrs Elizabeth Crecraft, the oldest show proprietor in the world. This wonderful old lady is still active in the business, controlling one of the bioscope shows shows at present touring South Wales. A representative of the Western Mail interviewed her at Milford Haven. Mrs Crecraft gave some interesting details of her long life. She was born at Chelsea in a showman's van in 1918 and never knew what it was like to live in a house. Her father had been in the showline for about thirty years previous to her birth and the old lady now claims that her family has with the record of 120 years - been longer in the business than any other in the world.
"There will never be such times again as those in my early days," said Mrs. Crecraft, with a significant shake of the head. "Why we used to have thousands of people round our show in no time wherever we pitched. Sometimes we showed human freaks and other curiosities, and it was nothing for people to walk many miles - for there was no trains or motors - to see our show. That was hardly to be wondered at, for except for an occasional dancing bear, there was not much to be seen by way of amusement in those days. A show with slightest pretensions to novelty never lacked patrons; they flocked in their thousands and stared open- mouthed at our curiosities. In the course of time I acquired a show of my own and I can't tell you what I haven't exhibited in my time. In turn I have show menageries, waxworks, living skeletons and fat women; a man 21lb in weight and another 45st.; a dwarf 27inches in height and a giant of 7ft 4in, - in fact I have exhibited practically every kind of living novelty known in my days. Many of the best known showmen of today learnt their business with me."
Then she went on, "I have lived in the reigns of six monarchs and what is more, I have seen them all - George III, George IV, William IV, Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and George V". She attributed her longevity to her careful and regular habits. Though not a bigoted teetotaller, she denounced intoxicating drink, saying that indulgence generally meant ruin in the long run. Mrs. Crecraft kept herself abreast of the times by reading the daily newspapers and astonished her interviewer by her intimate knowledge of current events.
World's Fair, July 16th 1910
The attractions of the summer Fair were were: Farrar and Tyler's scenic railway; J. W. Waddington's racing motors; Aspland's Gordon Bennett motors and Waddingtons' steam yachts. The shows in attendance were: Aspland's electric theatre, Farrar and Tyler's fun city and Hobson's picture house. Throwing games by Messrs. W. Steward, Geo. Cornwall, S. Doubtfire and many other well known Yorkshire Travellers.
World's Fair, July 16th 1910
Hull’s Great Fair
The spacious fairground at Hull is again filled with showmen's attractions, but, unfortunately, the weather has been all against good business. Tuesday's rain and Wednesday's wind completely spoiled the fair. The huge-ness of the fair will be realised when we point out that the attractions include:
• One circus
• Two wild beast shows
• Four cinematograph exhibitions
• Fat lady show
• Two dwarf shows
• One boxing booth
• Two haunted castles
• 23 roundabouts
• Three sets steam swings
• One big wheel
• Three lighthouses
• One cake-walk
• Several small swings
• A scenic railway
• An "aeroplane"
• Four "joy wheels"
• 175 stalls in Walton street
• Over 200 stalls in the fairground (in addition to the bazaar)
• 1,000ft of bazaar stalls
• Numerous houp-la and other stalls
World's Fair, October 15th 1910