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Penzance Corpus Christi

Discussion in 'Leisure activities' started by steve smith, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. steve smith

    steve smith

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    AW 1.jpg
    Over several years I have carried out research on Hancocks, Anderton and Rowlands and Whiteleggs, and would be interested to hear from anyone who has memories of the famous Penzance Corpus Christi Fair.

    Penzance Corpus Christi Fair, traditionally held on Midsummer Day, was another of the West’s great events, attracting folk from a wide rural area. In 1908 a dispute between the showmen and the council over rents lead to the travellers boycotting the normal ground and opening instead at Poltaire.

    A contemporary news account describes the event: The invasion by the combined forces of circular cavalry, armoured switchbacks, aerial swing boats, scouts, brass bands and other mounted and infantry forces assumed a serious aspect on Monday night…General Hancock, Captain Rowland, Brigadier Brewer and Miss Hancock, as the modern Joan of Arc, held a council of war. General Hancock discovered that he could expect no help from his cavalry as they were decidedly off their corn and could only be ready to take the field under much more favourable condition. However rolling stock from the Great Western Railway was requisitioned and by Tuesday morning the terminus was blocked with all kinds of military paraphernalia, including three dwarf ponies, evidently intended for dispatch riders, and apparently last ridden by the Boers during the South African war…In the meantime General Hancock and staff officers were seen in an armoured locomotive speeding about the district. At 12.15 19 trucks were at Penzance Railway Station waiting to detrain. News that the encampment at Poltair could not be made resulted in the commanders-in-chief of the invading party, Messrs Hancock, Anderton and Rowland, making a reconnaissance in a motor car.”

    I would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any stories about the fair.
     
  2. Halfhidden

    Halfhidden Untouchable Staff Member Administrator

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    Now as a child I remember well the fair coming to town, yet didn't take too much notice of the political side of things then. I do remember that the fair had been relocated several time because of disputes with rent and land ownership. As I remember it after the formation of Penwith District Council the Princess May recreation ground was rented out by them. But my understanding is that the grounds actually belonged to the Penzance town council (but they didn't know it). Graham Williams (now dead) who owned the original "Nippy Cars" taxi firm spent a good part of his life trying to correct this injustice. He also owned one of the most comprehensive catalogues of Corpus Christi Fair pictures available. These spanned decades! They showed the fair from steam power through to petrol and then diesel. My best guess is that the album covered 60 years or more.
    His wife Margaret let the UK to live in Spain and I have lost contact with her since.
     
  3. Tropicgal

    Tropicgal Janner/ Senior Member

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    I remember the Corpus Christi Fair very well and in those far off days of the 1960's it was one of the highlights of the year in PZ. There also used to be another small fair which came to town earlier in the year, anyone remember that?

    I remember the Andertown & Rowlands fairs and the Whiteleggs but don't remember the name Hancock.
     
  4. southwestdj

    southwestdj Member

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    first of ll the small fair at the end of April beginning of may was introduced by T Whitelegg and sons to have some where close to Helston for Helston Flora it always left central park having been there for Easter the first opening of the season for T Whiteleggs Corpus Christie fair was held at the reaction ground and the council own the rec the cheap jacks that ran down the road outside the rec and all travellers also paid ground rent to Whiteleggs who then paid the council after Whiteleggs sold all their machines to
    A&R then took over the ground I know all this as I travelled with Whiteleggs for 10 years on different machines
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2011
  5. southwestdj

    southwestdj Member

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    alos graham and margrett were very good friends of mine margrett is on here under the name of fair lady
     
  6. welb1931

    welb1931 Member

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    Did the fair not have a yearly schedule.....Bodmin, Truro then Redruth on to Penzance and then to Helston as I seem to remember
    I could be wrong its been a long time....
     
  7. southwestdj

    southwestdj Member

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    The Whitelegg's run was as follows central park Plymouth for 3 weeks at Easter then to Penzance for 1 week then to Helston for Flora day then to Bodmin then to Truro for Whitsun for 1 week then to Penzance for Corpus Christie then back to Plymouth at Whitleigh for 2 weeks then to Ernesettle for 1 week then the Barbican for the regatta then up to the Hoe for 1 week then to Teigmouth for 1 week then to Dartmouth for the regatta then to Bideford then to Barnstable then Otter St Mary then back to the fortin Plymouth I only know a few of A&R's grounds hope this helps?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2011
  8. southwestdj

    southwestdj Member

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    Whitelegg's fair consisted of the following rides a Noah's ark,dodgems,belonging to Tommy Whitelegg a big wheel, trabant,octpus all belonging to Arthur Whitelegg. The gallopers belonging to another Whitelegg. Freddy Whitelegg had a waltzer and dodgems and later Billy Whitelegg had a ride. The following rides were owned by A&R: Noah's ark, twister and dodgems. REDRUTH WAS THE ONLY GROUND WHERE TRAVELLERS PAID A&R RENT THE REST OF THE GROUNDS TRAVELLERS PAID T WHITELEGG RENT.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2011
  9. shelbyman

    shelbyman

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    In the mid 70s Tommy Rowland of J Rowland and son (St.Blazey) bought Tommy Whiteleggs dodgem and the "run" and the season was as follows..Plymouth Central park..3 wks.. Penzance Private (it was called this)..1 wk..Helston flora..1 wk..Bodmin..2 wks..Truro..1 wk..Corpus Christie..1wk..,up to Plymouth..Whitliegh estate..3 wks..Lipson-vale..3 wks..then the "regattas",Barbican..1 wk..Hoe..2 wks..leave Plymouth..Tiegnmouth green..1 wk..Brixham..1 wk..Dartmouth royal regatta..1 wk..Bideford..2 wks..back into Cornwall..Fowey..1 wk..Summercourt..1 wk..Bodmin for "back-end" fair..1 wk..Tavistock goose..1 wk..Oakhampton..1 wk and finally Bampton..1 wk and then back to the yard,for a while in the mid 80s we would attend the torch-light festival at Carlyon bay St.Austell,this was a one day event ("build-up and pull-down" same day!).
    I worked for Tommy Rowland for nearly 30 years and still see him and his family from time to time,a true Showman and gentleman, and if i could turn back the clock i would do it all again!!...Chris.

    This may help anybody researching..http://nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/history/showmens_guild/western.html
    copy and paste in your web browser.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011
  10. shelbyman

    shelbyman

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    In the mid 70s Tommy Whitelegg sold his dodgem and grounds to Tommy Rowland of J.Rowland and sons of St.Blazey and the "run" was as follows..
    Plymouth central park-3wks.
    Penzance private-1wk.
    Helston flora-1wk.
    Bodmin-2wks.
    Truro-1wk
    Penzance Corpus Christi-1wk.
    Whitliegh estate Plymouth-3wks.
    Lipson vale Plymouth-3wks.
    Barbican Plymouth-1wk.
    Hoe Plymouth-2wks.
    Teignmouth green-1wk.
    Brixham-1wk.
    Dartmouth royal regatta-1wk.
    Bideford-2wks.
    Fowey-1wk.
    Summercourt-1wk
    Bodmin "back-end"-1wk.
    Tavistock goose fair-1wk.
    Oakhampton-1wk.
    Bampton-1wk.
    Back to the yard for winter..in the mid 80s we would attend the St.Austell torch-light festival at Carlyon bay a one day event.
    I worked for Tommy Rowland for nearly 30 yrs and still see him and his family from time to time,a true showman and gentleman.
    If i could turn back the clock i would do it all again !!..Chris.
     
  11. shelbyman

    shelbyman

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    http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/
    might find something on here..
     
  12. shelbyman

    shelbyman

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    Just for the record..Tommy Whitelegg had 3 sons..Tommy,Bibsey and Arthur and between them they had..noahs ark..2 dodgems..trabant..octopus..big wheel and gallopers.If my memory serves me correct Tommy and Bibsey managed their dodgems,Henry James managed the trabant,Arthur James,(Henrys brother,who both came from Helston) managed the ark,as for the other machines i cant recall.When the trabant was sold Henry managed the ark while his brother Arthur managed the big wheel,Tommys dodgem was later sold to Tommy Rowland,Bibseys dodgem i believe was sold to David Rowland,Arthur James finally bought the big wheel and the ark was left to Henry in a will,it was later converted to a waltzer and sold to Anderton and Rowlands (Devey family) upon Henrys retirement.
    Tues 2nd August @ 9pm i believe BBC 4 "All the fun of the fair"
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011
  13. Halfhidden

    Halfhidden Untouchable Staff Member Administrator

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    This is a fascinating subject and the notes you all have added to this will no doubt bring back some fond memories to a great deal of people.
    My only wish was that we had more pictures of the fairground of the 50's 60's 70's and 80's It seems odd that quite literately hundreds of thousands of people took pictures of the fair but now there aren't any to be found sad#
     

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