All the Fun of the Fairground



From one of my earliest childhood memories, I just loved when the funfair came to town. I grew up in a small town called King’s Lynn in the County of Norfolk, which has hosted the start of the Fairground season with its traditional opening on February 14th every year called ‘The Mart’ and held on the Tuesday Market Place. This exciting extravaganza stays for 14 clear days, (never open on Sunday’s).The Mart is very popular and has a long tradition and interesting history attached to it, for more information click on this link

“500 years ago, Lynn had two marts and these were important trading fairs which would attract visitors from as far afield as Italy and Germany. Over the years trading fairs became less important and the Mart’s nature changed from a trading fair to a funfair. It also became an annual event.

KL Mart 1

The Mart is also a memorial to the great work of Frederick Savage, who worked in partnership with the Showmen’s Guild to develop new rides. Mr Savage lived in Lynn, and pioneered the application of steam power to fairground barrel organs and went on to develop a unique industry manufacturing power-driven roundabouts, swings and joy-wheels.”


KL mart historic BW

The Opening Ceremony by the Town Mayor in full ceremonial regalia is another tradition which is upheld.

Mart opening ceremony

And of course, you cannot mention The Mart without there being The Galloping Horses Carousel, made by Fred Savage of King’s Lynn. This famous funfair attraction is so very beautiful and plays amazing music.

Savages carousel horses

Click on this link to read more about the life and work of Fred Savage.

The memories I have of childhood trips are as vivid now as then, with gayly painted rides and that atmospheric buzz from loud pop music, flashing lights and noisy shouts and screams from the crowds, being thrilled or terrified from the experience.The music which I recall being played was mostly pop hits from the 1970’s and early 1980’s, which was heard increasing in volume as you walked along the streets which approach the Market Square where the Mart was. Hits from such pop groups as Bay City Rollers and Abba filled  the air and added to the festival goer’s screaming from the waltzers as the fairground workers gave the waltzer carriage a fast spin and the lights dipped low and the music was loud, loud, LOUD!!

There were many big fairground rides such as the ‘Big Wheel’ (or Ferris wheel) and the dodgem cars or the waltzers to the many various different side-stalls, I loved it all. There were lots of penny slot machines with a big pull handle and a winner’s jackpot for 3 lemons in a row of about 20p in those early days.

Then there were treats such as Thompson’s rock, the most delicious, teeth-breaking, sticky sweet or candy floss and toffee apples. Such a riot of experiences  to the senses that even now as I remember and write I can visualize the whole event once again.

Rocky Thompson

Possibly one of the only drawbacks that will eternally be a problem is the weather. February in King’s Lynn, Norfolk is renown that, with the coming of The Mart, it is more likely to snow or freeze than any recent cold January day. I have had my hands turn red-raw holding onto the rides’ metal handles for some stability as the cold north easterly wind whipped across my face. Not the best timing, but it is a tradition and there is no getting away from that.

The many sideshow stalls I have mentioned in trying (desperately) to win a prize must have cost my poor parents so much more than the cuddly toy I was smitten with (a blue Smurf or Scooby-Doo). I would have my favourite stalls, first of best was the ball in the bucket, then there was hook-a-duck and the curious ‘odd or evens’ ticket where your ticket was rolled up inside a small piece of (what seemed to me were drinks straws) and to get it out was, hanging on a string attached  to the stall  a small piece of metal with which to poke out the ticket. I was so taken with these stalls and was always very crestfallen if I lost.

hook a duck

A Favourite Side Stall

This is one of the happiest memories of being small growing up and one which continues for generations of children and families to enjoy. I would be carried home, tired out from the visit to the Mart. Don’t you just love the fun of the fair?!

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