David Harrison remembers Hull Fair with his father.
David Harrison is thirty five and for many years his father worked for the St John’s Ambulance on Hull Fair duty. He came into Avenues Library and shared his memories with the project. He told a story about his father:
Yes. He joined the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1942, and he left it in 1990 when Hull fair was on he did Hull fair duties for St John Ambulance. When people fell off the rides and things, he used to take them into the hut, and bandage them up or make way for the ambulance to get through the crowds.
So is that that hut that’s just on the edge of Walton street:
That’s right – where the market is now. Where they have the Sunday market now, there’s an old hut with two chimneys on top, two old chimneys, that’s where my father used to work from. From the headquarters in Springbank.
Did your father ever tell you any stories about what he did:
Yes, he got a certificate, he got a first aid certificate. He passed his exam during the reign of the Queen mother, it was signed by George the Sixth, the Queen Mothers husband. He’d sit in the hut and if a little red light came on or something that was an emergency so they’d go and search the ground till they found the accident.
Did you go down there with him when you were a boy:
Yes. Hull fair. I used to go, I remember going, the days he was off I remember going on the rides with my father. The big wheel and that thing like four big animals, that went up and down, like Scooby Doo and that. Cartoon characters that just went up and down. And the Cake Walk, I remember the Cake Walk. And George the Gentle Giant and Tiny Tim, the smallest one, the biggest one.
Tell me about George:
Well it was mad. Size fifteen shoes and size seventeen collar. Hands twice the size of mine. He was massive. You used pay a pound and go around the ring and shake his hand, talk to him and come out. There was a picture outside telling you all the details, size seventeen collar, size fifteen shoes. The biggest head in the world and everything, it was absolutely massive. I was about between 7 and 10 then.
He was inside a square marquee, you went in and then up and back out again. I can remember he sat on a little stool, a strong enough stool, like a metal stool. And when he shook your hand, oh your hand felt small, it felt like a vice, when he shook your hand.
And did you talk to him:
Yes, real deep loud voice. I was just amazed. And then you got an autograph, a photograph, you had pay another 10p or something. Inside, he just signed it.
What was the other one you were saying:
Tiny Tim the smallest, the dwarf, the smallest man in the world. He was ever so small.
Did you like the rides as well:
Well I remember me and me father going on the dodgems. Losing his cap, losing his cap cause the cars crashed together and the friction of the crash made his cap fall off. He never found that cap.
His first aid cap:
No he was in civvy uniform then. He lost his cap. He never got it back.
Did he wear a uniform for work:
Yes, there were two huts and there was a hut further at the back as well. They were called 1a and 2b. So they would know where they were. They were on radio as well. I remember the white haversack with all the first aid kit in it. Like that, with a bag, and it had a pair of scissors, a bottle of water, plasters, and bandages and tape and things. I remember the uniforms, black, the old fashioned material, black thick heavy uniforms with bright silver buttons. I can remember my father polishing the buttons, he had a piece of cardboard, which he’d put it though like that and polish. He used to wear a white shirt, a clean white shirt; I remember ironing his white shirt for him to go to duty.
What was your fathers name:
John Harrison. That was my father’s name. He got made an auxiliary member at the end – he was sixty eight when he passed away. And he got a tiny tiny badge with auxiliary on it and he used to wear that so they knew he wasn’t on duty any more.
Thank you very much David Harrison. It was enjoyable speaking with you. Maybe you’ll come back to the fair this year again. We’ll try and find a picture of your father but for now here are a couple of the first aid post.