Thornaby started the back-end, with Robert Cooper presenting the fair at the town’s annual show on Sunday 4 September. This is the only funfair that takes place in the town.
Organised by the town council, the show is free to enter and was again held on the Harold Wilson Recreational Ground, featuring arena entertainment circus acts and horticulture and craft tents.
Five machines are the maximum permitted. The line-up was the same as last year, with Billy Freeman’s waltzer, Glenn Miller Snr’s XScream Round-Up, Chance Hanley’s Paratrooper and Michael O’Brien’s Twister and big wheel the main attractions. Arthur Newsome’s ghost train and mirror maze were in support.
Other equipment came from the lessee, Tony and Revelle Wilkinson, Shelby Miller, John Richardson, Jamie Waddington, Ken Dean and Robert Foreman.
The fair opened at 10.30am and last rides were called at 4.30pm with people still on the ground at closing time. Business wasn’t as good as 2021, but after a slow start the Showmen still enjoyed a good living over the six hours the fair was allowed to open.
To the disappointment of the local community, the annual show in Peterlee appears to be no more, with the local town council no longer including the once popular show on the annual calendar of events. The fairground was presented by Noble’s, and to fill the void this year the Noble family presented the Peterlee Fiesta.
The Fiesta ran from Friday 9 to Sunday 12 September, a week later than the official event used to take place on Pavilion Fields, and was a scaled down version of the town’s show. Although there was an entrance charge (the fair was free entry after 6pm on Saturday) the event still featured stage performances, stunt bikes, craft and food stalls and a circus workshop alongside the fairground attractions.
The lessees brought along their waltzer, dodgems and Twister, with support from Tony Wilkinson’s Miami, Billy Freeman’s Rotor, Arthur Newsome’s two attractions and Harrison Hancock’s helter skelter.
There was also a good selection of juveniles and games. As with most grounds across the country the fair didn’t open on the Friday as a mark of respect following Queen Elizabeth’s death. Saturday, which traditionally was the show’s busiest day, was just about washed out, leaving only Sunday to try and get a living.
Billingham Carnival & Horticulture Show was also due to take place over the same weekend, rebranded as the Billingham Show in its new location of John Whitehead Park, which last held a funfair back in 2007.
Keith Turner and Sons’ attractions pulled onto the park and set up in readiness for the two day event. Main attractions were the family’s waltzer, Miami, Odeon tagada, Jump & Smile and runaway train, along with Michael O’Brien’s Twister, Christopher Twilley’s fun house, Elliott Parker’s Astroglide and Fred Proctor’s Wild Frontier coaster.
However, unlike at Peterlee, the organisers decided to pull the plug on the entire event following the Queen’s death, and sadly, not even allow the fairground to open for private business in the town centre park.
Back in 2019 Carnival Funfairs (P&LA Evans) resurrected Shildon’s carnival in the Hackworth Park. Last year a free Monster Truck show ran alongside the funfair, which proved popular. This year the organisers went one better by adding more dare devil stunt acts in addition to the Monster Trucks.
The fair was slightly down on the previous year for thrill rides but could still boast eight large attractions, with William Henry Clark & Son’s Kick Down Afterburner, Ryan Colquhoun’s Gallopers and Alex Crow’s Air Swing Star Flyer and Dumbos on return visits.
Barron Harniess’ waltzer, Elizabeth Hackett’s Continental wheel and Douglas Codona’s Yankee Flyer Miami and Twister were new this year. Supporting attractions came from the lessee along with Harrison and Michelle Hancock, John Travis Houghton, Alfred Twilley Jnr, Jorden Holdsworth, Peter Richardson, Arthur Newsome and Elliot Russell.
The fair was due to take place over three days from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 September, but as with most fairs did not open on the Friday. It also suffered the same fate as Peterlee on the Saturday, with poor weather ruining any chance of decent business despite the free entertainment on offer.
Main photo: Glenn Miller Snr’s XScream Round-Up on a return visit to Thornaby Show.