Albert and Margaret Baines have a love affair with Hull Fair. Literally.
Albert and Margaret Baines travelled to Hull Fair with a hot-dog stall for many years. Their children still work the fair each year. The project met them sitting in their living wagon at Brighouse, West Yorkshire, Albert, who is 73, recalled some early memories of Hull Fair:
Albert: My first Hull Fair after the war was 1947 and I still went up til four years ago. I was at Hull Fair all the time. Even my courting was involved with Hull Fair. I started courting Margaret and then her mum got me a six foot stall on Walton Street. A six foot hot dog stall, that was in the fifties. It was in front of Webster’s shop. When we got married I got the garden at the side of Webster’s and we had that for over thirty years or maybe more. That was right on the corner in the main plot in Hull, across from Carver’s fish and chips. They all used to come for my hot dogs, we were in a good plot. When we lost that it was like cutting my arm off. We used to go to Armers Ice cream get ice cream and cream. It was 9d and 1/3 and we’d all meet there every afternoon. We used to open in the afternoons and you’d have to mind the stalls and that was our thing wasn’t it. Then we would go on the dodgems at night with the record player and we’d be dancing and going in someone’s car and everyone’s car was open and you’d do a bit of courting, lovely. What a place, Hull Fair. Lovely place, lovely people, I loved every minute of it.
Which families do you remember most from that time:
Albert: Goldthorpe, Holder’s, Waddington’s, Marshall’s, Aveyard’s and Morley, Lings. When we first went there, there was a Circus and a Menagerie right in the corner where Taylors are now. A live show of Elephants and Tigers. There was the Circus doing the acts and this menagerie where you walked round like at the zoo. It was a tent, you would go in and walk around and the Circus was round the side. It all belonged to the same people. I think it was Fossetts.
Margaret joined in here and added “Wasn’t Tom’s show there too?”:
Albert: Tom Norman, oh yes. Tom Norman show. I’m in the army and I go to Egypt. I was there twenty-one months and I put the Wireless on and it’s the opening of Hull Fair. Tom Norman’s Show and I know my mum’s wagon is behind Tom Norman! I had tears in my eyes.
Hull Fair is a family day out. Albert remembers that in the forties and fifties, wednesday was Farmer’s day:
Albert: We used to have the Wednesday afternoon, that was farmer’s day. We used to open on the afternoon, we didn’t get a lot in the afternoon, but you got a few bob. But you got all the farmers and the families coming. The farmers must have made it up; it must have been slack day for them, Wednesday. All good people with their families coming out. I can remember them as plain as day, walking down, the old flat caps on, the raincoat over the arm, you know, they’d come for the day and they’d come prepared, I can remember it as plain as day.
Albert travelled with a hot-dog stall for many years but as a child he had helped his father:
Albert: When I was at home we had two penalties, the football kick thing. They were side by side. It used to be 3d and 6d a kick. 3d! If you took twelve quid in a full day you took a fortune. How many balls would you have to put down and pick up! We always used to have a thirty-six foot kick. My dad used to be a goal keeper. You had to beat him. Now imagine the balls hitting you all day. He’d be black and blue, wouldn’t he?
Albert and Margaret told us more about social life for the showman at Hull Fair in the forties and fifties:
Margaret: At the top of Walton Street we used to have a dance. We had one dance a year at Hull Fair.
Albert: One dance a year, that’s while we were building up, so you were lucky if you got there because you were still building and if you were quick you went to the dance.
Margaret: Now they have dances three or four nights a week while they’re open. Well, we were never allowed that. It was only before we opened.
Were they formal dances:
Albert: Just an ordinary dance. Nine times out of ten a live band. There were no discos then and all that nonsense. It was at the top of Walton street, called the something deluxe.
Margaret: We always used to look forward to that dance didn’t we? To Hull Fair. You see, all your friends used to meet up at Hull fair. Maybe you hadn’t seen them for seven or eight weeks. Well you knew they were all going to Hull fair so all your pals were there.
Albert and Margaret have one particularly special memory of Hull.
Margaret: We were married at the old Trinity Church forty-seven years since.
Albert: Married at the Cathedral. I think there were 450 at the wedding. We had them from all over – Scotland – everywhere. Our honeymoon was – a day out at the pictures at Leeds!
What did you see:
Albert: I can’t remember to be honest! My best man was Walter Shufflebottom. Me and Margaret were in Woman’s Own. They did a story about us courting. And it was in the Hull Mail. Roll up Roll up…
Do you have any pictures of the wedding:
Margaret: There’s one where we are cutting the cake.
Albert: I had to give twenty six pounds for that suit. And it was a fortune in those days. It was blue. It was mohair and wool.
What do you remember most about the wedding:
Margaret: Well I can remember everything actually. I can remember my dad taking me to the church. He says to me “Now look, if you don’t want to marry him. There’s no problem. We can still have the do. But if you don’t, you know, feel he’s right, it doesn’t matter.” And a man went by, a chimney sweep. I looked at my dad and my dad got hold of my hand and he said “ You’re going to be happy” And he was right – we have been happy.
Albert: 46 years.
Albert: 47. That’s three life sentences. Four life sentences.
Well Albert and Margaret – looks like you’re doing fine. Thank you very much for the interview. We found a copy of the Hull Mail article. Hull Fair has been good to you and you’ve been good to Hull Fair.