World's Fair Extracts 1921-1930

Hiring Fair Harvests Much Reduced

The Modern Handicaps of the Travelling Showman

York Market Place is filled this year with more travelling amusements than for some years past on the occasion of the Martinmas fair, but the showmen talk in the minor about their prospects. A leading member of the Showmen's Guild, who has a good many thousand invested in the business attributed the slump (writes a correspondent in the Yorkshire Post) to the Agricultural Wages Board.

The operations of the body have destroyed the statute hirings, he says, and consequently the farm lads and lasses do not pour into agricultural towns at Martinmas as they did formerly.

Wages are paid weekly, or at most monthly, and the single farm hands have not so much available money to spend although their wages are now much higher. Social habits have changed on the farm. Nearly every "farmer's boy" now possesses a bicycle, and the market town is consequently within easy reach for a weekly visit. No longer is it the Mecca of a yearly holiday for Martinmas week, after a year's strenuous toil.

"I have watched it closely for the last three years," said my informant, "at Malton, York, Doncaster, Selby, and in Lincolnshire, and there is a great falling off. It makes an enormous difference to us. High wages, high rents charged by the Corporation, or the owners of the fields for standage, and above all, the high price of fuel, has seriously affected our financial results. Our takings are less and our expenses are more."

The prevalence of the picture house in the smaller rural towns has been a serious competitor to the travelling showman. One other effect, at least, the progressive competition of the permanent amusement has had on the showmen. His entertainment is on a higher level than heretofore. It is less primitive and crude and though still dependent for much of its attraction on heavily gilded paraphernalia, glare of blazing light, mostly electric, generated by a dynamo, operated by the traction engine which hauls the outfit, - the show itself is cleaner and wholesomer than of yore.

Tradition gives it vitality, but I gather that the showman has a hard fight in front of him to maintain his erstwhile position as successful amusement caterer.

World's Fair, December 3rd, 1921

Mauled by a Tiger

Circus Animal Attacks his Trainer

An exciting incident occurred at Friday's performance of Hagenbeck's Circus, which is at present in Berlin (says the "Daily Mail" correspondent.) The "star" turn was performing tigers. On the trainer, Fischer, turning his back, a tiger named Prince, which had been bad-tempered from the outset, suddenly sprang on Fischer and severely mauled him. The trainer was able to shake off the tiger despite the agony he was suffering, but after reaching safety he collapsed. His injuries are serious.

World's Fair, December 3rd, 1921

The World’s Fairograph

Among the attractions at the forthcoming carnival in the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, will be a putting green, 50 feet square, which will be laid with real turf. Billiard competitions will be held each afternoon and evening during the five weeks run of the show, and prizes amounting to £200 will be awarded. An illuminated fairy fountain 24 feet in diameter at the base should create much interest. Water will be thrown to the top of the building in variegated colours. The opening date is Monday December 12th.

World's Fair, December 3rd, 1921

The New World’s Fair

Agricultural Hall Show Opens on Xmas Eve

The New World's Fair opens its door at the Agricultural Hall, Islington on December 24th and continues daily until February 5th, with a variety of attractions including Circus, Menagerie, Dance Hall, Skating Ring, Thrilling Rides, Side Shows, Games and a hundred and one others. The Directors, always anxious to stage the best of everything, have toured the Continent from one end to the other with the result that amongst the numerous acts appearing in the circus ring are Lockhart's Elephants, five performing Royal Bengal Tigers, the Alberty's Aerial Show, Trick Cyclists, the Stevenson Brothers, Ireland's cleverest riders, performing horses, hosts of funny clowns etc. For the first time two performances only of the circus lasting over two hours each will be given at 2.30 and 7.30 respectively, under the direction of Mr. John Swallow, England's leading circus proprietor. Mr. G. Tyrwhitt-Drake (ex-Mayor of Maidstone) has loaned his collection of wild animals, the finest private menagerie in the world. In addition to the elephants, camels, lions, tigers, leopards, hyaenas, bears, wolves, etc., the famous Jazz Band Monkeys who recently escaped, and Sally, the suburban ticket clerk monkey, all of whose exploits have been broadcasted by the Press, will appear. Form the opening at 12 noon to closing time at 11 p.m, something is always on, and at an admission price of 6d, surely within the limits of the slenderest purse, entitles the New World's Fair to retain its record as "The People's Show."

World's Fair, December 25th, 1926

International Fun City and Christmas Carnival

At the Express Rink, Nottingham

The above carnival opened at 2.30 on December 18th and over 8,000 visitors paid for admission. Great credit is due to the management on the lines it is run, and the elaborate carnival decorations. Every strand is fitted with pillars and fascias reaching all around the building. The entrance is the most inviting it has been my experience to see for this class of amusement. The attractions were as follows: Messrs. Mellor's jumping horses, Mr Hibble's cakewalk. These are two of the finest machines I know and had a magnificent appearance. Shows: Jolly Jean the Giantess; Mary Ann Bevan, the ugliest woman in the world. Also miniature turnout show, Mrs Turner and Son's spinner. Lewis's novelties from all parts of the world, Reeves touch em, F. Mellor's sheet, Rattery's wheel 'em in, J. Thomas's discs, E. Mellor's darts, Turner's roll-ups, Harvey's "Punch board" and "flip 'em," Smith's Jazz cloth, Rattray's mint vendors, J. Stockwell's automatic parlour, Hollands' electric targets. Dearden's "spynaball" and Derby racer; Palmistry by Mrs Hart, ices, Cappocci; refreshments Messrs. Gouch and Co., Nottingham, high-class caterers. The whole of the carnival is run by the lessee, Mr. J. Stockwell, and every credit is due to him for the arrangements and the extensive publicity of the carnival. There were a few well known faces visited it during the opening day. Mr. Harry Yorke paid a flying visit from Chesterfield. I noticed J. Proctor and S. Hewitt there. Messrs. Gouch inform me they are applying for a license for intoxicants, so should this materialise we shall have many more distinguished visitors in the Show World. We are anticipating the second annual dance on December 31st.

World's Fair, December 25th, 1926

What we Think

Showmen Draw

In some places where fetes and galas are organised we have watched the difference in crowds where the festivities have been attended by showmen's amusements and it has been forced upon us that whilst in most cases Showland's attractions have been billed as a side line they have proved of greater draw than the sports or other attractions. If readers would only realise this and see that by a little combination or agreement they could bring rents down considerably, we feel the whole of the business would benefit very greatly. As we have often pointed out, for showmen to take their attractions to places and give exorbitant rents or percentages is decidedly wrong, and something from which the whole of the business eventually suffers.

World's Fair, June 11th, 1927

East Anglian Notes

One of the oldest Whitsun fixtures in the Eastern Counties - the Debenham Sports took place on Monday. The fun of the Fair was supplied by Bert Stocks who was present with his golden hunters - a well kept machine. There was a large variety of side stuff catered for by Geo. Summers, A. Stocks, Bob Day, C. Newby and others. It is estimated that the crowd in the evening numbered well over 3,000 despite the threatening rain and the fair seemed to be "touching" fairly well.

World's Fair, June 11th, 1927

Montrose Fair, Scotland

This fair (market) it is called here, opened on Friday. There were all kinds of weather, mostly rain, causing business to be bad. This ground was well arranged by our old friend, John Lovett, assisted by Henry O'Brien, and they made good and quick work of it. The principal attractions were Lovett's gallopers, O'Brien's Palais de dance and flight in mid- air, and a new riding device worked in a new and novel manner with abundance of light. Charlie Thomas deserves great praise for this ride.

John Stewart's sporting pavilion with his school of Celtic champions was the principal show here. Mrs Wheatley's kie and snake show, pig faced girl, midgets and illusion shows, Fred Wheatley's automatic show, Freeman's electric futurist show and Indian torture exhibition. Only one Maypole was allowed to be built up the reason given (which I think was unfair) that they were disc games. There was plenty of room. Personally I think it is very unfair to prevent a man from earning his livelihood when his game is clean, up-to-date, and a game of skill. The public want and ask for something new on the fairgrounds today. Should you attempt to cater for the public with a new game, speculate good money and it does not take on, then nothing is said, but should you appeal to the people and you get and hold a few punters, then you are suddenly informed by certain lessees that there is no ground for you. That means capital lying idle and a curtailing of staff.

The remainder of the fair was made up by the following: Jas Wright's Maypole shooter and gallery, Messrs. Thomas Freeman, Mrs. Ag. Strand, Messrs, Trotter, Salvona, Lovett, Galloway, Stirling, Mills, Burlin, Redpath tick-off booths, etc., etc. This market concluded on Saturday. Everybody en route for the famous Trinity murk which commences on Thursday next.

World's Fair, June 11th, 1927