It seems like only yesterday that Carters Royal Berkshire Steam Fair was coming to Lichfield for the first time, venturing far beyond their southern domain and bringing to the city their cavalcade of amusements and pleasures from a bygone age.
Fast forward five years and their final tour is here. One sunny Monday in July the ‘wagon train’ arrived in a glorious crimson and cream mirage.
Once built up, Carters placed the wagons and trucks on the perimeter of the theatre and fenced it all in.
The hundreds of colourful posters clearly stated that this was the final tour. It would be a fifteen-day opening of the pleasure dome before disappearing into the sunset forever.
This year the fair was built up near Bunkers Hill in Beacon Park, and opening day was Saturday 23 July.
The perimeter fence had three entrances positioned around it. Entering through one of them took you straight into the 1950s with a cluster of classic machines.
Featuring the Rock & Roll dodgems, Lightning Skid, Giant Octopus and Supersonic Hurricane Jets, even many teenagers seemed impressed. I overheard several youngsters coming off the Skid saying, “Best ride we’ve ever been on”.
Further into the ground were machines from different eras. Accompanied by organ music, bells, whistles and smoke were the ex Harry Lees Steam Yachts, the Jubilee Gallopers and the Chair-o-Planes.
On side ground stood:
- the two sets of high park swings
- three strikers, (one for each age group)
- coconut shy, shooting saloon and knock ’em off joints
- plus ice cream, donuts and burgers.
In centre ground stood:
- the hand-turned toy set
- Sea-on-Land boats
- Austin car ride
- Marlow train ride
- and mini-Octopus.
Visitors arrived in good numbers, and although midweek days saw healthy crowds it did trail off quickly around 5pm.
The final weekend saw an excellent free firework display on Saturday evening, with 11 hours of business keeping everyone busy until 10.30pm.
And then it was all over, not just for this year, but forever. Thousands of people took home their memories of Bunkers Hill in Lichfield, and all that’s left to say is, thank you Carters Steam Fair for the magic you brought to our city.
Main photo: Joby Carter and the gang from Carters Steam Fair at Bunker’s Hill, Lichfield.