The annual round of Mop fairs in the neighbouring counties of Worcestershire and Warwickshire got underway at Evesham on, appropriately enough, Michaelmas Day, 29 September. This quarter day marks the start of a very busy period for travelling Showmen in this part of the English Midlands, and is the date from which most of these long-established fairs are fixed in the calendar.
In 2018, following the loss of a car park on which part of Evesham Mop was held, the local authority gave lessee Edward Danter Snr the opportunity to transfer the lost positions to the High Street and the Market Square – the original home of the fair. The move was transformative, with the amusements being placed firmly at the heart of the town. Lockdown in 2020 saw the streets devoid of attractions, but the Mop made a welcome return to Evesham last year.
A new diversion scheme for traffic passing through the town was devised, and after the fair many locals called for it to be made permanent – it worked better than the usual arrangement! This didn’t happen, but the diversions were in force again this year, though there were still those who complained that the presence of the Mop causes traffic problems.
The Mayor of Evesham, Cllr Mark Goodge, answered the criticism by saying that the benefits brought to the town by the fair far outweigh any disadvantages. “The Mop is an important part of the town’s history, and it’s still a key part of the town’s social history,” he said.
The fair was officially opened on a fine evening, with a ceremony conducted in the High Street section of the fair. Although rain put a damper on things the following day, the final day of Saturday 1 October saw a return of better weather. Speaking after the fair, Edward Danter Snr said that it had been a pleasure to be back at Evesham again. “We look forward to returning next year,” he said.
Evesham Mop attractions
The main attractions in the High Street were:
- Craig Danter’s Super Bowl and Booster
- Leigh Danter’s Super Star
- Edward Danter Jnr’s Miami.
The Market Square played host to a new attraction, Craig Danter’s Venom Afterburner, a brand new machine acquired earlier this year. On the opening night of the Mop it was enjoying very good business, while sharing the square with this big hitter was Joseph Danter’s Twist.
Along Vine Street the main attraction was Leigh Danter’s Star Flyer.
On Merstow Green could be found:
- William Porter’s Waltzer
- Wilson’s Amusements (Redditch) Ltd’s Extreme Orbiter
- Edward Danter Jnr’s Ice Mountain
- Shady Scarrott’s Crazy Circus fun house.
From Evesham, many of the Showmen made the short hop to the Warwickshire town of Alcester, for its two-day Mop on 3 and 4 October. The fair winds its way through the town centre, running the entire length of the High Street and the adjoining Henley Street. Due to its history, since early in the 20th century the fair has the unusual distinction of having two lessees, who are responsible for separate areas of the Mop.
Alcester Mop attractions
The southern end of the High Street is let by Western Section member Stephen Fullwood, and included:
- James Danter’s Waltzer
- Steve Guy’s Toon Town fun house
- Joseph Danter’s Twist and Miami
- Stacey Squires’ Round-Up
- James Danter’s Extreme Orbiter
- Aaron Bradley’s Miami
- Leslie Danter & Sons’ Skyline slip
- James Squires’ fun house.
As has been the custom for countless years, the Mop was officially opened on the Tuesday (Fair Day) by the High Bailiff of the Alcester Court Leet, in company with his fellow members of this ancient body.
Stratford-upon-Avon is famous for two things: it’s the birthplace and final home of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, and it’s where the annual Mop takes place on 12 October. Like its counterparts in this part of the Midlands it’s held where it has always been – in the streets of the town.
Since the early part of last century the amusements at Stratford Mop have opened on the previous evening, for what became known as the ‘Benefit Night’. When this first started the Showmen gave part of the proceeds that night to the local hospital. Nowadays a proportion of the rent paid to the district council is distributed among local charities.
The Mop is always opened with all the pomp and circumstance of a ceremony involving the town council, the district council, the lessee and representatives of the Showmen’s Guild. All walk in procession from the town hall to the head of Bridge Street, where the opening takes place.
Held under the banner of Bob Wilson & Sons, the Mop this year was notable for the number of rides making their first appearances here. This no doubt elicited great interest among the younger fairgoers, but there were some who regretted the absence – for possibly the first time in living memory – of that great symbol of the British fairground, a set of Gallopers.
Stratford Mop attractions
In Rother Street the principal attractions included:
- Wilson’s Amusements (Redditch) Ltd’s Orbiter and Jumper
- Perrin Mott’s Trooper XL
- A Deakin & Sons’ dodgems
- Stuart Stanworth’s waltzer
- Aaron Bradley’s Miami
- Charles Harris’ Twist
- Leigh Danter’s Star Flyer and Booster
- Harvey Green’s big wheel
- James Squires’ fun house.
At the head of Bridge Street stood Ross Kayes’ imposing Danger Zone Afterburner, one of the newcomers to Stratford Mop that was well patronised over the two days of the fair.
Leading down the street were Thomas Jones Jnr’s dodgems, Scott Kayes’ waltzer and Luke Shufflebottom’s Super Star, which has acquired a smart new backflash since its last appearance here.
Also here were Scott Kayes’ Miami, Jordan Herbert’s fun house and Brogan Owen’s House of Terror, while Shady Scarrott’s fun house and Psycho Inn could be found along Union Street.
Two days after Stratford Mop the fairground activity switched to the county town of Warwick, where the first of its two Mops took place on 14 and 15 October. Held in the Market Place and surrounding streets, the Mop was given the customary civic opening ceremony on the Saturday.
Accompanied by his fellow town councillors, members of Warwick Court Leet and representatives of Warwick District Council and the Showmen’s Guild, the Mayor of Warwick, Cllr Parminder Singh Birdi, officially opened the Mop from the platform of Aaron Bradley’s Miami, positioned at the head of the Market Place.
After a tour of the Mop, and the auction of the first slice of the roast pig, the opening party retired to the Court House where the mayor hosted an extremely convivial luncheon. Warwick Mop is run by Tommy Wilson of Wilson’s Amusements (Redditch) Ltd. His family have a very long connection with the fair, as he told guests in a speech at the luncheon, stretching back into the reign of Queen Victoria. It is very much the highpoint in his firm’s annual calendar, Tommy said.
Warwick Mop attractions
The main attractions at Warwick Mop included:
- Wilson’s Amusements (Redditch) Ltd’s Extreme Orbiter and Jumper
- Tommy Danter’s dodgems
- Aaron Bradley’s Miami
- Keith Stanworth’s Twist
- Denzil Danter’s Bomber
- Johnson Danter’s waltzer
- James Danter’s Freak Out
- Scott Kayes’ Miami
- John Allen Jnr’s fun house.
A week later both Stratford and Warwick saw the return of the amusements for both towns’ Runaway Mops, held on 21 and 22 October. At Warwick the attractions were very much as the week before, whereas at Stratford it was – as it has always been – a much smaller fair. These two fairs brought the 2022 run of Midland Mops to a conclusion.
Main photo: Edward Danter Jnr’s Miami in action at Evesham Mop.