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13 November 2014

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Goose Fair

You are in: Nottingham > Goose Fair > Goose Fair is rubbish

Boy at Goose Fair

Is Goose Fair rubbish now?

Goose Fair is rubbish

Local writer Al Needham laments the loss of some of Goose Fair's unique sideshow's including Gordon the Gnome, Mousetown and the Boxing Booth.

Maybe I’m slowly turning into my Nana, but Goose Fair makes me very angry nowadays.

Back in the day, when ‘Gooseh’ was indisputably the best thing ever, there was a perfect balance between rides, standard fairground stuff like peas and hook-a-ducks, and the final part of the Holy Trinity: mad stuff that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. 

Gordon the Gnome

People like Gordon the Gnome. To my mind, Gordon had the best job ever. He’d just sit there in his gnomey gear on a plastic toadstool, and people would pay 50p to look at him. He’d wave at you for a bit, and then give your Mam some lucky beans to take to the bingo.

He's not there any more.

Scotland's Tallest Man

Next to Gordon, and on the other end of the scale was Scotland's Tallest Man. They used to nail one of his trainers to the side of the tent to show how massive he was, along with a sign that read ‘AS SEEN ON TV’S IT’S A KNOCKOUT – DO NOT BE AFRAID, HE IS A LOVLY (sic) MAN’. Apart from that, his other claim to fame was that he could step over a Mini.

He's not there any more.

Boxing Booth

The boxing booth was the best thing ever. It was the last touring booth in the country. Normally, when they used to go around the country, it would be 'if you can last three rounds with the big gypsy bloke you'll win a fiver'.

When they came to Notts, however, they learned very quickly that enough people weren’t particularly bothered about the money. They just wanted to have a scrap in front of their mates. You’d get some outstandingly barbaric entertainment for the price of a candy floss.

Action from The Boxing Booth (1982)

Boxing Booth action (1982)

That’s not there anymore.

Mousetown

Worst of all, Mousetown has gone. As all Nottinghamians of a certain age will tell you, it was the first thing in the fair that your mam took you to see. To the untrained eye, it was just a load of mice running about in a manky model village.

To us, it was as exciting and important as seeing the sea for the first time at Skeggy, or the first sighting of the massive Xmas TV and Radio Times in the shops in December – the first sign that something you’d been waiting ages for was actually about to happen. 

All of these things above have gone for various reasons. Gordon and Scotland’s Tallest Man have presumably nipped off to the Great Forest In The Sky, while all animals have been (admittedly justifying) banned from Gooseh.

What has taken its place? Nothing more than a cheap Alton Towers. A load of big rides and very little else. An annual event that, somewhere along the way, lost its soul.

Loss of heritage

Something needs to be done. The fair has been shorn of its characters. Our children are not being allowed access to people like the Snake Woman from Bombay (who actually came from Bestwood, and saw the vacancy in the Job Centre the week before).

Surely there is a place for her and others in today’s fair (actually, why not move all that stuff back to the Market Square, so we can have a bit of heritage without being clonked on the head by mothers holding aloft pushchairs in a quagmire?)

So yeah, maybe it's a getting-older thing, but I can’t be doing with Goose Fair. I think they should make it proper again or just not bother. And don’t even get me started on the price of the peas…

* Al Needham was nearly killed at Goose Fair when he was 4, after an ill-advised go on Noah's Ark left his Mam clinging onto the hood of his anorak for two minutes in order to prevent him from being catapulted into a nearby pea stall.

last updated: 25/09/2008 at 06:53
created: 22/09/2008

Have Your Say

Do you think Goose Fair has lost its soul?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Bob Blair
What Happened to the strongman at the Circus The mighty Apollo lifted 12 men on a plank 48 times ion 3 days, and he was an old man

John Kovac
The same holds for county fairs in the US.

Chad Valentine
Too right mate. It used to sprawl all round the surrounding area, at least 10 gypsy rosa lee's on every street as well as food stalls and crazy stuff for sale all down the boulevard..Now its just the biggest rip off merchants who show there. £5 for a 1 minute ride?

Maurice Parkin
Yep sure do agree, I lived in Radford as a boy and GF was a part off my life easy walking distance, I used to go almost every day on my own as mum and dad worked long hours, but the smell and the sound will remain in my head for ever, I do remenber the side shows and one that was called the rawring twentioes I remember that well as a hot blooded teenager seing the ladies scantally clothed altho at second looking they were not very attractive at all, I remember the weall off death, as a rocker the site and smell off the bikes were great, also the thing were you stuck to the wall as it spun (dont know the name) was great fun. Yes happy days now its just VERY small and no atmosphere.Maurice

adele underwood
I think its too expensive nowadays. and yes bring some back and put them in the square not everone can get up to the forest, especially if you are disabled like me and dont have a car!!

AL GARTON
I WOULD ALWAYS GO TO THE NOTTINGHAM GOOSE FAIR WITHOUT FAIL ,AND MUST SAY HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED..NOT FOR THE BETTER I MIGHT ADD.GOOSE FAIR HAS DRYED UP ,I DONT BOTHER GOING ANY MORE,I GO TO HULL FAIR WHICH COMPLETELY OUT DOES GOOSE FAIR,100%FOR EXAMPLE,NO SIDE SHOWS ARE THERE ANY MORE,AND ALOT OF THE ATTRACTIONS HAVE NOW MOVED ON TO HULL,IE SHAWS RAZZMTAZZ WALTZER,SEASTORM ,AND MANY MORE ...WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR BELOVED GOOSE FAIRWILL IT EVER BE AS IT ONCE WAS..I DONT THINK SO,IS IT ANY WONDER THAT HULL HAS TOOK OVER AS BEING THE LARGEST FAIR.MAYBE THEY SHOULD PUT THE GOOSE FAIR BACK INTO THE MARKET SQUARE..IM PRETTY SURE IT WOULD ALL FIT,INSTEAD OF SPREEDING IT ALL OVER THE FOREST ,IF YOU HAVE,NT BEEN TO THE GOOSE FAIR FOR A WHILE ,I WOULD RECOMMED GOING,JUST TO SEE HOW ITS CHANGED....IM VERY DISPOINTED HOW OUR MAIN NOTTINGHAM FAIR HAS GONE DOWN HILL.....COME ON PEOPLE SORT IT OUT

colin aldread olly
i used to work on one of the many waltzers, and have been there on many occassions me n the wife go every year,a trip down memory lane as u would call it, n every year we say its not how it ought to be,or how it used to be, they should bring back the boxing booth n the old time fair n mix it with the new rides ur write mate it has lost its soul.

peter gillam
was the best fair ever all the old tyme rides shamrock & columbia the steam boats noyces gallopers the cake walk just to mension a few i did work on the fairs and yes i do think the goose fair has lost it,s soul

Val Stacey
please please bring back the proper fair - we can get rubbish entertainment anywhere anytime, including staying at home in front of the telly - so PLEASE bring back the real thing

Lorna Griffiths
I totally agree. My dad used to be a referee at the Boxing Booth so every year myself & my brother would spend hours at the sideshows beside it whilst dad was working. I loved Mousetown & the Capewalk, never tired of them year after year. Haven't been to Gooseh since the Boxing Booths departure.

Liz, Notts
It's certainly getting more expensive every year. Probably won't be going this year.

richy adkin
I agree -i think the classic goose fair is a thing of the past,gone are the caterpillar ride,moonrockets,boxing booth,snake girl show, speedway and skid ride-all goose fair has to offer nowadays is repeat after repeat of the same rides-theres nothing special anymore! -this will be the first year that i will miss goose fair!-ive booked a holiday instead of using my time off to walk round the goose fair,-nothing worth going to see anymore! its very sad!

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