Tavistock Goose Fair
A Preview
This is Guy Belshaw’s third fairground book, and is published following two years of research and  much time spent  sourcing elusive photos of fortune tellers, booth boxers and bygone shows, that once enlivened Goose fair.

Six chapters detailing the rich and colourful history of this famous country fair.

During the 19th and early 20th century the fair had a reputation for brawling, drunkenness and excesses of every description. The Salvation Army and the Band of Hope fought the great fight against the perils of strong drink on Fair day.

The fair brought electric light and cinema to the town for the first time. Dancing bears, performing Lions and Ghost Illusion shows were standard fare in the 19th century. The first Dodgem  Cars caused a sensation in 1930. After the Second World War, Boxing booths, dancing girls and the Wall of Death thrilled the crowds.

All are featured in the book.

Not to be outdone by itinerant traders, John Carter, the founder of Crebers Store, advertised Fairings and Ginger Nuts for Goose Fair week. And proving fast food is nothing new, Bill Cribb, grandson of Tom Cribb - Boxing champion of all England, sold fried chips from carts during the Great War.

The Rowland family has provided all the fun of the fair for over a century and a chapter details the trials and tribulations of life on the road. The founder of the Rowland dynasty, Tom, died at Tavistock in October 1925.

The fair began as a Michelmas trading fair, with the seasonal commodity, Geese, being offered as part of the rent. It is a surprise to many that more geese are offered for sale on Goose Fair day in the 2ist century than during most of the 20th. Only six were offered for sale in 1936. The book details the livestock prices  made at Market on fair day from the 1850s.

The story is brought up to the present with a debate about the future of the fair being questioned by some in the town. 


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