Families have ‘super’ day at traditional Fairlop Fair

A fair inspired by an eighteenth century landowner attracted a modern crowd with music, a tug-of-war, a dog show and traditional fairground rides.

The Fairlop Fair, which once drew more than 200,000 people, returned to Fairlop Waters, off Forest Road, Barkingside, on Friday and Saturday.

In its heyday in the 1800s, entertainment included boxing booths which allowed visitors to don gloves, an “excessively fat lady”, a “real live mermaid” and the “living skeleton”.

Dharam Sahdev, 72, of The Crescent, Gants Hill, said: “Hundreds of people were glued to the fire juggler, Tommy, who was super and was definitely the best act of the day.

“The whole event was very interesting and full of history. I was determined to go ever since I saw pictures of the fair in the 1800s at the library.

“The great variety of music and instruments kept people of all ages entertained.”

The original fair grew out of wealthy landowner Daniel Day’s tradition of sharing a breakfast of bacon and beans with friends under the famous Fairlop Oak.

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Mr Sahdev added: “I dreaded the thought that I might not be able to go because of the heavy rain, but it soon stopped and families started arriving in their droves.”

A “storyboat” recreated Mr Day’s boat on wheels, which traditionally travelled from Mile End to Fairlop, and began in Wapping and arrived at the festival site on Friday.

Ron Jeffries, 79, of Spearpoint Gardens, Aldborough Hatch, said: “I much enjoyed the Strolling Players who offered music in costume from a variety of ages. I hope word will spread and larger numbers will make their way to Fairlop Waters next year.

“We are very fortunate to have the park to enjoy, after the building of the London City Racecourse was stopped, and all in all, the day was a jolly one without the pressure to buy that so often ruins a day out for cash-strapped families.”