Yarm Fair 2011
John Pockett - Vardo Artist & Historian
Yarm Fair is held over 3 days near Stockton-on-Tees up in the north of England.
It is always held in the main street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the 3rd week of October.
One end of the street has travellers with bowtop waggons and a few trailers.
The other end hosts quite a sizeable funfair.
I am told the fair dates back to 1214 and has been going all this time.
Once a commercial fair for cattle, horses and cheese, recently it has become mainly a pleasure fair.
This year I was having a trip up north and arrived at Yarm on the Thursday afternoon. It was very quiet, although everything was in place for the evening's funfair.
I counted about twelve living vans but there could have been one or two more than that.
There were two dukkering (fortune-telling) trailers.
One of the bowtop waggons, an openlot, was very nicely painted. It was being made ready for fortune-telling.
I last went to the fair in 1986 and took the following photographs.
It was little changed from that time, although it was a Saturday when I went in '86 and there was a lot more activity than on this Thursday afternoon.
Apparently, things get going on Saturday, and horses are run up and down the street.
In 1986 I saw a procession of horses and a steam engine pulling a trailer with dignitaries in it - the mayor and such.
Yarm has a very wide street, and either side of the main thoroughfair is cobbled.
I believe the travellers are still allowed to have stick fires actually on the cobblestones, which is quite a sight.
One change is that Tilly Wood is no longer alive. She was photographed by me in her bowtop waggon at that time.
The Woods have gone to this fair over many years. They are the Romany north-east Woods of course.
The Town Hall has some interesting photographs of Yarm and the fair. This is a splendid picture taken in 1930 with bowtops, one or two early trailers, ledge waggons, and so on.
A very busy scene. Sadly, it's not as busy or exciting today as it was then.
Text / images © ValleyStream / John Pockett Collection 2011.
Transcribed and edited by GypsyWaggons / UK Vardo Project.
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