Showmen's Guild: Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales
The Lancashire Section of the Showmen's Guild can claim as its major contribution to the history of travelling showpeople the birthplace of The Showmen's Guild in 1889. The first meeting organised by the showmen against the proposed legislation put forward by George Smith took place on the Flat Iron Fairground in the City of Salford at the The Black Lion Hotel. Many of the names associated with Lancashire were present at that first meeting, including George and John Green of Preston, Henry Wallis Jnr and John Collins. For many years the headquarters of the Guild was based in Manchester with Thomas Horne, the first secretary , being based in West Didsbury near Manchester. With the appearance of the World's Fair in 1904, which is still based in Oldham, it would appear that the Lancashire region of the Guild played a significant role in its early history.
The Lancashire section of the Guild encompasses not just the historic county of Lancashire but also Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Montgomeryshire. The families connected with Lancashire fairs include Greens of Preston, Silcocks of Warrington, the Shaw family, Cubbins, Cooks, Hollands, Wrights, Wallis', Manders, Sedgwicks and Taylors, with many others listed in the Showmen's Year Books.
Like most sections of the Guild, the fairs in this region are a mixture of prescriptive fairs relating to local custom, survivals of the Wakes and Hirings held in Lancashire over the previous centuries, events which are referred to as private business, and of course the famous Preston Guild. The Preston Guild week is perhaps the most infrequent of fairs held in this country, falling as it does on the occasion of the festivities in the City of Preston which occur every twenty years. Other fairs associated particularly with Lancashire are, of course, the Walking Day Fairs which trace their history back to the church festivals of the nineteenth century. The largest of these include Padgate and Warrington which are associated with Silcock Brothers of Warrington. The final fair or perhaps the first fair of the season is, of course, Bolton New Year Fair held in Bolton town centre. Other fairs in Lancashire include the Easter fairs held at Blackburn and Daisy Nook. One of the oldest fairs in the region is Bury Fair held in September which dates back to the Charter of Henry VI in 1440. The Royal May Day Festival held at Knutsford produces one of the biggest gatherings of the Lancashire season with the annual festivities falling on the first Saturday of May.
Sherdley Show, St. Helens, Lancashire
A very modern fair but rapidly becoming one of the largest in the section, is Sherdley Show held in St Helen's at Sherdley Park in conjunction with the St Helens Show. This fair usually takes place at the end of July and lasts for three days with the firework display on the Sunday evening signalling the end of the festivities.