Old Ledbury - World War One in October Fair

World War One in October Fair

World War One October Fair

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 17 10 1914
October Fair
Ledbury's annual Pleasure Fair was held on Tuesday last. Unfortunately the weather proved unfavourable, rain falling most of the latter part of the day. The attendance was, perhaps, a little below that of last year. The pleasure fair was comparatively small as has been the case for some years past. There is no doubt about the fact that the fair of to-day is not the fair of years ago. The older inhabitants of Ledbury will probably remember the time when High street was crammed with sets of roundabouts, waxworks, peep shows, swings, shooting galleries, etc., not to mention WOMBWELL's menagerie. Now the Cattle Market is the centre of attraction, and STUDT's amusements, which have visited Ledbury for many years past, do "a roaring trade." The result is that the greater part of the crowd is diverted to the Cattle Market, and High Street is easily passable for vehicular traffic. A striking comparison to days gone by when it took several minutes for a vehicle to forge its way through the surging mass. High Street, as usual, presented an animated scene from noon onwards. The usual resident tradesmen's stalls were in evidence, and in accordance with custom there were a few itinerant vendors, but these were not so numerous as was the case last year. In taking a survey of the town during the "hub-bub" of the fair it is necessary to start from the Upper Cross end then proceed down High Street. An old inhabitant would be struck by the difference in the appearance of the Upper Cross as compared with former years. The singers of the "good old songs," generally accompanied by the melodian or concertina, have long since taken their departure. There are, however, several things which remain with us. There were eatables in galore, including the crisp gingerbread, but that toothsome delicacy (?) the savory sausage, was absent this year. To come back to the present the toy stalls again gladdened the hearts of the little ones, and which seem to recall to the older generation the times when High Street was a complete pandemonium. There were the customary crowds around the "cheap Jacks," whilst a man who claimed to be able to perform marvellous feats with the aid of chains attracted considerable attention. Near the Town Hall a gentleman in a top hat and a massive gold albert was shouting at the top of his voice that he had been sent here by a well-known firm to sell watches almost for nothing in order to advertise their wares. A large crowd had gathered around the "cheap Jack." "Here's a gold watch," he says "that is honestly worth five guineas." In order to sell the watch he includes several other articles in the bargain, and offers the lot, say, for 30s. - "a ridiculously low price, less than the value of the watch." There is a rush for these bargains, but when they get the articles in their possession patrons are not quite so satisfied with them as when they saw them at a distance. The buyer does not hesitate to show his dissatisfaction, and speaks plainly on the subject. The auctioneer replies by saying that he "can use his fists as well as sell watches, and if the buyer does not stop interrupting him he will have much pleasure in coming down from his rostrum and settling with him." This is generally sufficient for the buyer, who departs in peace. The next thing to attract attention was the men with the crockery and tin wares, who appeared to be doing good business. Proceeding down Bye Street one missed the old familiar and chubby faces of the "ship-wrecked mariners," turning out yards of sacred music, accompanied by oft-repeated salutations for help. There was only one member of this society present this year. As the Cattle Market was approached the steam from the fried fish and potato stalls reached one's nasal organs from all directions, and the sounds of Mr. STUDT's grand organ attached to the switchback struck upon the ear. On entering the cattle Market you were probably pelted with confetti or received a wisp with a paper brush. The "lady teasers" are enjoying a revival, and were much in evidence on Tuesday. There were several side shows and shooting galleries. For the modest sum of one penny one could see the "biggest body in creation" or the "smallest lady in the world." Outside the tent of the former a showman could be seen waving a portion of what was claimed to be the lady's wearing apparel in order to give intending patrons some idea of the huge proportions of this female and of the sight which awaited them .... There were .... on the ground .... and other giddy .... versions, all of which did a good business. The switchback of course came in for the most patronage. The Hoop - It has become a thing of the past, judging from the amount of business which .... be doing. One must not forget the fortune teller, who probably reaped a good harvest of coppers. The photographers seemed to be doing little business. The familiar catch pennies could again be seen catching the "green ones." The game was watched for a considerable time, and the pennies went fast, but the watches, prominently displayed at the back of the stall, stopped where they were. The fair was kept up until after midnight, despite the rain which fell at frequent intervals.
During the day open-air prayer meetings were held near the Town Hall. The Church Room was used largely by visitors who required a rest. Papers, etc., were provided for their use, and they were able to pass a quiet hour.

1914 Newent Reporter Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1914 - 1919 Ledbury Guardian Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1916 Tilley's Almanack
Photographs are credited to the owners
Comments are from members of the Old Ledbury Facebook Group
Cuttings from Ledbury Reporter newspapers
Transcribed by Donna GORIN

Ledbury Reporter

[Ledbury Reporter] The Reporter now has Archive photographs for the years 2005 - 2009 which you can view and order. Select a year then make sure Ledbury is the keyword entered before pressing GO. I have spent many an hour in the Ledbury Library looking through the old Reporters which are on microfiche. Support this great local paper.