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May 2002
Home is where the heart is
travellers caravan

travellers caravan

Nottinghamshire is home to one of Europe’s biggest and oldest travelling fairs.

Sarah Julian

The Goose Fair’s been held in our city for over 700 years, for anyone who’s ever eaten mushy peas and mint sauce under the glaring lights of the waltzer it’s an experience never forgotten!

Newark is also home to one of the biggest travellers sites in the country.

With it’s central position, our county has long been a stopping point for travelling people.

Sarah Julian, Sense of Place producer explains why she wanted to make this programme:

Goose Fair
Goose Fair

"As part of the Sense of Place series, I interviewed lots of people about their attachments to their towns, their streets, their homes, so I was interested to know what is ‘Sense of Place’ for people who travel. Once I met the showmen, I realised what a colourful enchanting world the fairground is."

What does the annual fair mean to a place? James Mellors, Chairman of Derby, Notts and Lincs branch of the Showman’s Guild says there’s nothing like the magic created at fairground.

Listen to James Mellors talk about the magic of the fairground (28k)

Goose Fair
Goose Fair

In the programme we also hear from Ron Shepherd, a man who went away with the fair to work on a coconut shy at the age of 15. He loved the lifestyle:

"It was a life like no other, I was so happy, at the end of my time on the fair, I could jump on and off the Noah’s Ark as it was going full speed and make the girls scream."

Ron Shepherd, went away with the fair at the age of 15. Hear his story (28k)

Nottinghamshire has also been a traditional stopping point for travelling people, and now houses around 300 travelling families at Tolney Lane in Newark.

Sarah Julian, Sense of Place producer says her visit to Tolney lane left a lasting impression:

"I didn’t really know what to expect from a travellers site, but I certainly didn’t expect to be made so welcome. I was invited into the homes of a young mum who’s travelled all her life and an 80 year old Romany who told me fascinating stories about travelling ways."

Vicky lives at the site having married a traveller. She says that now Tolney Lane is home.

Listen to Vicky talk about her home (28k)

For the travellers at Newark, it seems to be culture and heritage which is really important, maybe more so than ‘place. Sarah says she learnt a lot:

"I was amazed to learn about the strict rules for youngsters, particularly young girls, I didn’t realise travellers’ culture was so different. And as for all the stereotypes of gypsies and travellers, I hope the programme will go some way to overturning them. I’ve certainly never seen a cleaner living room!"

Millie, a young mum who lives at Tolney Lane when she’s not travelling, explains how travelling ways are different.

Listen to Millie explain how travelling ways are different (28k)

Both the travelling community and the showmen talk about the discrimination and prejudice they face. For both communities, whatever other people think, it seems to be a life they love and are proud of.

Sarah Julian says:

Home is where the heart is: audio documentary
Listen to the audio documentary >>>

"I hope the programme will be an insight into a world not many of us really understand."

Home is where the heart is can be heard on BBC Radio Nottingham on Sunday 5th May.


Top | Community Index | Home

Six documentaries that explore people’s connection with the county and what it is that makes Notts so special.

Home is where the heart is: audio documentary
this story
audio James Mellors, Chairman of Derby, Notts and Lincs branch of the Showman’s Guild talks about the magic of the fairgrounds (28k)
audio Ron Shepherd, went away with the fair at the age of 15. Hear his story (28k)
audio Vicky, married a traveller, talks about her home, Tolney Lane in Newark (28k)
audio Millie, a young mum who lives at Tolney Lane, explains how travelling ways are different (28k)
related

Romany and Traveller Family History Society

National Fairground Archive


Nottingham Goose Fair


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