Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

After talking to you last week about Taylor’s Fun Fair coming to town, I got really nostalgic about childhood days gone by, and thought I’d carry on this week by giving you a bit more information on this subject.

I did mention last week that collecting fairground memorabilia is a very popular hobby and that we had had a gorgeous wooden carousel horse for sale in the centre that was snapped up very quickly by a local collector.

In the early 19th century the first rides began to appear.

They were mostly roundabouts.

The animals on the roundabouts were usually horses but they were known as ‘Dobbies’.

The dobby was hand carved of wood and held together with timber joints.

Early dobby horses did not have the colourful, gaudy decoration we now associate with the carousel.

Their painting was true to life and some were covered in rabbit fur for extra realism.

These early roundabouts were powered by horses or occasionally by children (who might get a free ride in return for their trouble).

In the late 19th century, steam power replaced horse power and it was on these rides that the traditional, vibrant colours of the more modern fair began to appear.

One of the reasons that carnival memorabilia is popular around this area, is that Lancashire had always played an important part in fair development and Lancashire families were at the forefront of many advances.

The first steam powered roundabout made its debut in Bolton at the New Year’s Day Pot Market.

Some of the best known fairground names today are from Lancashire like the Greens of Preston, the Silcocks and the Taylors.

It was thinking about Taylor’s fair that’s set me off on my little nostalgia trip.

Originally fairs began as an important opportunity to buy or sell stock or even find work, but they became, over the centuries, nothing more than entertainment.

But what brilliant entertainment is was.

Somehow the modern theme parks with their steel roller coasters and burger restaurants, can’t compete with the noise of a barrel organ, side shows and the 
smells of hot dogs and candy floss.