The Runaway Mop at Stratford-upon-Avon, on October 22 and 23, was in many ways the end of the season for most of the tenants, with little now apart from the odd bonfire or Christmas fixture before the start of the 2022 season.
Originally, this fair, the second of the town’s two annual Mops, was one-day only, but some years ago the local council allowed the amusements to open on the evening before. Things have now gone one better: in addition to the customary Friday the lessees, Bob Wilson & Sons, were granted permission two years ago to open on the following day rather than the evening before. With the following day being a Saturday it is potentially a much better day for business. The move didn’t go down too well with some local shopkeepers, but it seems popular with fairgoers.
The event came at the end of what was an extremely busy month for Wilson’s, with no fewer than five town-centre fairs in three weeks under their banner. But it had been a trouble-free period, according to the head of the firm, Willie Wilson MBE. The local councils involved had all been extremely helpful this year, and the response of the public had been very positive.
The spirit of goodwill between the local authority and the lessees was very much in evidence at the opening ceremony of Stratford Mop on October 12. More than one speaker welcomed the showmen back to the streets of the town for the first time since 2019, while Showmen’s Guild senior vice-president John Thurston represented the feelings of his members by declaring, “Here we are again!”
The ceremony was held in Bridge Street on the platform of an attraction new to this fair, Harry Jones Jnr’s Space, Confolding’s variation on the Freak Out theme with outward-facing seats. It was not the only fresh face here. Close to the American Fountain in Rother Street, Perrin Mott’s self-built Trooper XL was showing off its well-engineered lines and myriad coloured lights.
A fixture of all five backend fairs presented by Wilson’s, the Trooper XL returned for the Runaway Mop on a position that had been occupied by his late father, Dickie Mott’s upright Paratrooper at the first Mop in 1971! There was a strong South Wales element to the Runaway Mop, with John Evans Jnr’s Super Star and Andrew Holmes’ ‘The Can-Can’ Jumper making first appearances here amongst a total of eight big rides.
Main image: ‘Here we are again!’: Showmen’s Guild senior vice-president John Thurston, speaking at the opening of Stratford Mop on October 13
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