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Walter Page recalls Hull Fair
Walter Page very kindly came into Gypsyville Library in Hull and brought with him some very evocative items as well as his excellent memory. He was holding a precious item when he arrived at for the interview:
Itís a flower vase my brother won it on the coconut shy and we have tried to work out how old it was. We know itís at least 60 years old.
We both agree itís a very nice vase, itís a three-legged:
Yes, the quality of it at the time. He always used to go on the coconut shy; he was dead ace at it he was.
What is you brothers name:
Fred Page. I looked on the web site and everyoneís memory is of this once a year thing, looking forward to it and going as often as you could. I used to live in East Hull then and it was nothing to walk from East Hull to Walton Street to the Fair. It was a once in a year event, of course I followed it all these years, and I know I have never missed a year. My earliest memory? I do remember standing in front of Bostock and Wombwells Circus actually. I donít remember much; I remember all these people, musicians playing on the left side. I spoke about this to my brother since and he said, yes thatís how it was. I would only have been about 6 or 7.
The last year they came to Hull was 1931.
I was only 5, I have not even seen a photograph of this. I do remember standing there in trance because I had never seen anything like that before. Of course, the fair was the fair through the years. In fact, I think it has lost its charm now; youíd walk down Walton Street and see all the different little shows. One person in particular I used to see every year, called Chief Bulawayo. I was on Holiday in Yarmouth and on Sunday we went walking around the market. There he was on a stall. His was one of those features that stuck out. I asked him if he was Chief Bulawayo and he said ĎYesí and he was. A small world. On Walton Street they used to sell pots and rolls of candy for sale. Now itís all hot dogs, on the ground itself there was a long row of shows. Everyone used to try and out do each other. The big things of the fair, they used to give it the attraction. The Boxing show, the Wild West show and in later years Fossetts Circus. The old rides like the Caterpillar, the Gallopers and the Noahís Ark.
So what do you remember about the show row:
Well, Tom Normans Palladium show. Of course there was Chicken Joe. I used to get the Worlds Fair now and again and there was an article about Tom Norman. At the end they said he had this book, so I made a few enquiries and got this telephone number and rang it. I think it was his wife who I spoke to for an hour. She was really thrilled that someone had called her asking about the show. It was advertised in this book: The Penny showmen, itís an autobiography, signed: best wishes George Norman:
What was the show then that you remember most? Tom Norman?
Just after the war, I have the picture; he had the frogmen on, in a big glass tank, which drew the people that year. Tom Norman had these frogman, it really was a big draw and everyone was jostling to get in. There were queues before one show was finished with it being something they hadnít seen before. The attraction of this enormous glass tank full of water, the men with all the goggles and the flippers and all that. And Iíve got a book at home. Ian Frazer VC and it is about Ian Frazer himself but in it there is a good photograph of the show. Where it was taken I donít know though because they went round the country.
Another year he had someone who played the piano with his feet. He always used to have more than one person on. Twenty minute shows with quite a lot of people because it was a very big attraction. Coloradoís and another Wild West show, Hughes boxing show, pavilion, as it was eventually known and living dolls. The fat man and the fat women.
Did you go in to those, the small sideshows?
Yes, only once though, in fact one of the last shows I remember coming to would be the Living Doll Anita. She would be one of the last, and you went in and they showed her dressed in kiddies clothes. She used to be selling the postcards; I think that was one of the last shows. Of course, there is still a freak show that comes to Hull now, they are models in jars.
Is that a picture of Coloradoís Show with Florence Shufflebottom:
Yes, everybody used to go and stand outside and theyíd fire a few shots to draw the crowds.
Thank you Mr Page for an excellent and informative interview. Thank you also for bringing in your brother Fred and his wife Margaret at a later date. We hope you enjoy seeing your words on the web site.