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Bank Holiday Fair

This short documentary provides a nostalgic view of the modern funfair, capturing its magic and excitement, which are felt all the more intensely due to the transitory nature of the spectacle. Filmed at Hampton Court one bank holiday, showmen reflect on a business that for some has been in the family for generations. During times when electricity was scarce, the fair brought light like a 'great fire', along with noise and vigour. There is also contemplation about the forces that may bring change, leaving some attractions, such as the coconut shy, very quiet indeed. (1983)

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Wed 21 Dec 1983 14:00

Did You Know?

Funfairs initially evolved out of livestock fairs. The one at Hampton Court originated in 1838, when Queen Victoria opened up the Palace State Apartments to the public, providing an opportunity for showmen to trade nearby.


This eventually resulted in it becoming the officially designated Easter bank holiday funfair. It has been held every year since, even during the two world wars, as it was seen as an important way of boosting morale.


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Featured in...

Bank Holidays Collection

Bank Holidays Collection

This programme is available online as part of the Bank Holidays Collection.