Pat Baxter recalls Hull Fair
Pat Baxter, who was born in Hull, heard about the project and very kindly sent an audio tape:
This is my memory of Hull Fair when I was a small child in the 30s. My name is Pat Baxter and I now live in Hayling Island on the south coast.
We used to go with my Dad to Walton Street - he would take my brother and me to Hull Fair once a year - before the Second World War at any rate and I was born in Woldcarr Road off Anlaby Road so it was a tradition with him to go to Hull Fair anyway. My mum didn't often go. I don't ever remember her going - so he must have been quite good to have coped with two of us. I was born in 1929, my brother in 1933.
My mother had a sort of disapproving feeling about Hull Fair, I think it was because of the side show which was about a fat lady which she thought was a bit disgusting and we didn't think it was disgusting we just thought it was interesting. There was a fat lady and a piebald man and well it was advertised outside that there was a Siamese calf but that was in a bottle. The fat lady was seen eating boxes of chocolates and I was really rather jealous of this. She was rather rolling in fat and I'd never seen anybody as fat in my life although occasionally people were - quite fat.
My dad used to give a pound each for us to spend and you could buy an awful lot with a pound in those days. We just went on about everything and in just about everything that you could go into. There were swing boats and roundabouts with horses that went up and down. There was a thing called a caterpillar which took us round on a circular path which undulated round a music machine.
Before the war, when we were really little, it always had a certain smell Hull Fair, probably there were fires that produced steam for the machines, I'm not sure. The horses went up and down and they had a twisted metal bar that you held onto. There were coconut shies and shooting ranges. There were swing boats - two people would go in - into this boat and pull on a rope and it would go up and down - and we usually came off there feeling sick. And there was another thing which swung in the same sort of way only bigger - and a lot of people could go in and sit in it - a bit like a tram. And then when it started swinging I don't know what happened to the people inside I think they must have been thrown together. It didn't look very safe. I didn't go on that one, because Dad didn't think it would be very good for us. Also having once been sick after having been on the swing boats he wasn't very keen about us going on another one.
We always had things to eat. We had toffee apples and we had lots of seafood. Well you could have fish and chips but I chose the winkles and things like that. The shellfish. We had sweets and seafoam candy, that was this pink stuff, I think it's called candyfloss down here, it was very sticky and once you got some you just had to eat it before you could do anything much else. We always brought some home for my mother who disliked Hull Fair anyway - and I used to think she disliked it because the seafoam candy always landed home as a small squat bit of sticky stuff. Whereas when we'd seen it made and eaten it, it was very light and airy and you stood by the stall and watched a man with a stick waving the stick round and round until it had all stuck in a great big fluffy ball that you could eat it from. It really was delicious.
There always seemed to be ash underfoot. Or cinders. And we always used to come home frightfully dirty. I went to Hull Fair after the war when it was quite a bit different. For one thing there were more lights and well the whole atmosphere was different. You appreciated it in a different way when you were older. I don't suppose there was a Hull fair during the war - we'd moved away so it was hardly likely that we'd come back from where we were just to go to Hull Fair. I know my Dad who was born in Hull too used to go once a year anyway, before he had me. He used to tell us about what it was like.
Thank you very much Pat for contributing to the project.