Whitsun fair showmen in defiant stand

Photo Neil Cross
Preston Whit Fair
Photo Neil Cross Preston Whit Fair

Showmen have sent a defiant “We shall not be moved” message to Preston Council over the future of the historic Whitsuntide Fair.

Fairground firms met Town Hall chiefs this week over fears that the event could be forced out of the city centre, breaking a tradition dating back centuries.

The Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain is now drawing up proposals to put to the council to keep the rides and stalls in the heart of Preston where a Royal Charter has allowed them to operate for generations.

“They want to push us out of town,” said John Silcock, whose family have been regulars at the Whit Fair since the 1930s. “But there’s no way we are going to allow them to do that.

“We will be insisting on the rights the charter gives us. And that means setting up in the city centre as we always have.”

The showmen have accused the council of trying for 10 years to move them from their traditional home - under the two outdoor market canopies, along Birley Street and also on the Flag Market.

“When we met the council this week they kept trotting out excuses for not having the fair in the centre of Preston,” said John Silcock. “They said they were concerned about the noise, but I’ve been coming to Preston for 35 years and there have never been any complaints.

“They said the rides have cracked flags, but we have photographic proof that isn’t the case at all. They also said some of the rides are too big for the town centre, yet the council put a big wheel on the Flag Market for eight weeks over Christmas.”

A council spokesman said the use of the newly restored Moor Park with its events area had been suggested.

“Given the redevelopment of the markets and other city centre development the council feels that the fair has outgrown the limited space in the city centre,” said the spokesman. “We appreciate the Showman’s Guild has concerns about the use of Moor park.”