Long Ago and Far Away
Mrs Heather Hughes, now in her sixties was born in Hull where she still lives. She’s been going to Hull Fair for as long as she can remember and even ended up working there one year. She came into Greenwood Avenue Library for the first Hull Fair Project workshop and told us exactly where she had been born:
My eldest brother and I were born on Willerby Road, but when the war started I was 4 and my brother had just started school, and my father worked as an architect, working for the army so we were sent to somewhere near Darlington, We lived in Darlington, so I started school in Darlington, and then we came back to Hull shortly after that and about a year after I think. By the time I was six we lived on Strathmore Avenue, near Beverly High Road.
Travelling to the fair was pretty straightforward:
There were special buses laid on yes, always we got the fair bus, When the children were small we could walk there because we lived in Hawthorne Avenue then, just near the fair. We just used to cut through by the railway line and go through from there.
Like many people Heather knew three fairs: as a child with her parents, on her own as a teenager and finally as a parent:
Yes we did go with my Mum and Dad as children, I don’t remember quite as much as when I took my own children. I used to love the Speedway ride and I used to love the Dive Bomber and the Shamrocks especially. And I used to go quite a lot when I was in my early teens because I had friends at Girl Guides and school and they all used to go together quite often and quite regularly. Well it was such a thrill to be able to go and see all the different rides and the colours and the people and the music too. Oh there was one especially that I used to always remember – its from that film with Rita Hayworth - Long Ago and Far Away.
Heather brought some beautiful colour photographs of the fair taken by her father George Roberts who took her and her children to the fair every year:
He used to come with us quite often to take the photographs and he used to provide the funds (laughs) quite often. It was just something that we did, it was a yearly treat.
They loved it – we used to walk into Walton Street and there used to be someone with a little monkey and the children used to love playing with the monkey – it used to sit in their hands and they’d talk to it.
The photographs Heather brought in really capture the atmosphere of the fair. One shows a bingo stall and it reminded Heather of the prizes she used to win:
I didn’t often play that but I just did one for once, that’s me. We used to win sometimes on the things where you threw balls and rolled balls down and we used to get little glass dishes and coloured glass dishes and things like that, and soft toys, a lot nicer prizes than there are knower days (Laughs). It was just something special then.
But Heathers favourite memories are of the rides, particularly the speedway:
Oh yes, I liked that. I just liked the thrill of the ride, it was good and I always sat on the motorbike. I used to go on the outside, I remember because I could watch all the other people round as well at the same time as going round on it. I loved that; I used to like the one with Popeye on it as well, the moon rocket. (Laughs)
And then there were the shamrocks:
I used to stand up on the Shamrocks. I used to stand up at the back not holding on,
if you had a good stomach you were all right.
Heather’s time at Hull Fair was always special and Walton street carried so many memories. We asked her whether she remembered the smells of the fair:
Well, yes, when you get to the different stalls, like the Fish and Chips and those kinds of stalls. I did work on one actually for a week with one of my friends. When I was at school, it was the burger stall, in a caravan; we just used to sell the burgers. Just for the week she said I could do that, she knew the Gallagher family and then they had this caravan who sold burgers and she asked if I would like to go and help her, so I did. It wasn’t bad, I enjoyed it.
Heather Hughes was interviewed by Vanessa Toulmin at Greenwood Avenue Library, Hull on 8th March 2004 as part of the Hull Fair Project.