News and Updates: 2007 News
top of the bill
The National Fairground Archive launched its exhibition
TOP OF THE BILL on December 6th 2007. Located on the Mezzanine floor
of the Western Bank Library and running until February 7th 2008,
the exhibition drawns upon the visual brilliance and variety of
the ephemera collections. The exhibition is timed to coincide with
the opening of the new front of house, and has an accompanying catalogue
available from our sales page.
On-line visitors can get a taste of the exhibition
with our gallery located here.
Photographs from the opening ceremony are available
to view here.
The creation of the new NFA 'front of house' is
now complete, with a formal
opening taking place in the first week of December. Unforeseen
circumstances has meant a slight delay from our original scheduled
date, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
The opening of the new premises will then be followed by a brand
new exhibition occupying a major space in the Library. 'Top of the
Bill', opening 6th December, will feature unseen poster material
and rare ephemera, and will have a full colour accompanying catalogue
available for purchase. In addition we have prepared new literature
for NFA users using classic images from our collections.
We are now taking bookings from anyone wishing
to use these new facilities - full details of the new premises and
services can be found here.
nuts and bolts
Our new gallery Trade
Secrets looks at manufacturing literature through the past 50
celebrity host for Admission All Classes
The next event in our Admission All Classes programme
takes place on Friday 30th November and Saturday 1st December 2007
- showcasing the history of variety with a fashionable modern twist.
We are excited to announce that the compere for the Friday event
is BBC Radio4's 'Just a Minute' host Nicholas Parsons.
We are also promoting an accomodation package,
details of which can be found here.
In addition, the website
has been updated with full details of all partaking acts complete
with stunning photographs.
Long Eaton appointment
The NFA will be presenting a poster and information
display on the history of the Miami Trip ride as part of the annual
Long Eaton Model Show on Saturday 17th November. We hope to also
present a narrated slide show using rare material from the Ron Kinder
new staff member
New staff member Jane Donaldson started at the NFA in October. Jane has come from Manchester University Special Collections and joins the NFA at an important stage. Her work involves both taking a management role in the provision of the new NFA front of house, and also preparing the listing of all the uncatalogued ephemera within the archive.
Arthur Jones material
We are slowly adding material from the vast collection
of negatives belonging to the late Arthur Jones. Our first output
is in the form of a gallery entitled The
Only Fun in Town and dedicated space on the features
up and away
Our feature documenting the arrival of the Meteorite
ride into the UK has been published in the latest edition of the
Fairground Mercury magazine. This research builds upon the existing
ride history presented on the NFA website, and focusses upon the
original ride as it struggled to make an impact in this country.
Hull Ferens Gallery (Queen Victoria Square, Hull)
are currently running an exhibition entitled "All the Fun of
the Circus: Fred Elwell and Laura Knight" which features unique
material donated by the National Fairground Archive. The exhibition
runs up until November 4th (and will be open during Hull's famous
fair in October). The gallery website is available here.
Admission All Classes - thank you to everyone!
We would like to extend congratulations to all
those who made the first event, Cabinet of Curiosities, such a wonderful
success, and to thank all of you who turned up in support of the
weekend. We have added a gallery
of images of the weekend, and have included a prepared
text giving the history of curiosity shows. Feedback received
from the first weekend was superb, and we hope to include some of
this on the site very soon.
We celebrate Blackpool's tradition of presenting
the best mix of Roller Coasters with a new gallery Wood
Admission All Classes - FIRST EVENT IN BLACKPOOL
The National Fairground Archive presents Cabinet
of Curiosities as part of the Admission All Classes project. This
first event takes place over the weekend of 28/29 July and includes
free daytime events and ticket only evening events. The venue is
Blackpool's Winter Gardens, and full details can be found on the
UPDATE! Read the Guardian feature on Cabinet of
new galleries - Ireland 2007
Our trip to Ireland helped to create bonds between
the Archive and the Irish fairground communities. We also came back
loaded with some exciting images showing both the tranquility and
rapid change on the Irish fairgrounds. For features click here
and for a gallery of something a little different click here.
closure details as new premises set for
The Archive has been given the green light to
develop new premises for users. Work will start in July 2007 with
the closure of services, and continue until Autumn 2007 with the
opening of a new user space and the conversion of the existing NFA
into a dedicated staff work space.
Details of the closure can be found here,
details of the move and new space can be found here.
We are pleased to announce the donation of a collection
of photographs taken by Ian Cawthorne, comprising of fairs around
Northamptonshire from the 1970s. These will be digitised through
the summer. Our current work includes digitising the negatives within
the Arthur Jones collection. This is proving to be a rich and substantial
resource, and we will add a variety of features and galleries during
the summer months.
Hamilton Kaye's family have donated a collection
relating to the life and times of this local (Sheffield) magician.
Material includes ephemera from the 1940s.
Finally, we are delighted to have the Hodson Family
collection donated by family member Sue Graves. This covers the
life of the Sheffield-based travelling theatre company who toured
and performed from around 1880 up until the 1920s. Material includes
original play scripts, a fully researched family tree, photographs
and cuttings. To complement this collection the Archive has acquired
three original posters relating to performances by the Hodson family.
tribute to John Turner
The news of the recent death of Dr John Turner,
renowned circus historian and long-standing supporter and friend
of the Archive, came as a great shock. John has left his extensive
collection of materials and research to be housed in the National
Fairground Archive, and we hope to catalague and make available
these resources as soon as possible.
Dr Vanessa Toulmin pays a tribute to John Turner
floods and mud
Our latest gallery looks at the difficult circumstances that showmen often have to face when presented by freak weather conditions as seen of late.
To view the gallery click here.
Crazy Cinematograph launches
The Archive partnership project to re-create a
cinematograph show and project a selection of new prints of original
material has been launched for its European schedule.
For full details please click here.
Admission All Classes - an exciting new project
The Archive partnership project with Blackpool
is underway. The dedicated website is up and running and can be
The Archive has produced a 'name index' for the
1911 World's Fair newspaper, listing significant entries for births,
deaths, marriages, funeral reports and official business. The project
was completed by Library staff member Sue Cresswell, and will be
available as a resource for users visiting the Archive.
In addition, we have produced a subject index
for the full extent of UK fairground enthusiast journals (Merry
Go Round, Tober, Fairground Mercury and Jottings/Platform). This
will enable users and enquirers to quickly get at existing published
website restructuring and new look
We have changed the basic structure of the website
our development strategies over the coming years. As well as the
new 'Using the NFA' section listed below, we have now added a section
to focus on our partnership and research projects. The Mitchell
& Kenyon work, previously given its own front page section,
is now included in this new section.
The 'Holdings' section of the website will also be developed
to allow users to view and assess our collections more easily - this new
section of the website has taken in the pages previously dedicated to
promoting our circus pages. This section will eventually allow users to
browse a complete listing of collections alongside more 'guided content'
access covering areas like fairs, circuses, shows, early cinema and expositions.
The 'History of Fairs' section has been made easier
to navigate with broad themes available at the top level of enquiry.
This section includes all our own research and offers articles at
a very specific level of detail.
The new 'look' to the website (in line with University
of Sheffield corporate style) went live in June, with pages and
links converted. If there are any broken or incorrect links then
please let us know.
Meanwhile, please feedback with any comments and
suggestions for future features, and remeber that we will glady
publish articles submitted.
Braithwaite - final additions
The final selections of images by David Braithwaite
are now available for viewing.
The gallery section includes his work on round
and side stalls.
The 'from the archive' section includes his images of
and White Waltham
new on-line user guides
We have tidied up our signing around the home-page of
the NFA webpage by dedicating a new section that includes all relevant
material to using the archive. This will include new material listing
service costs and user agreements. The new section is available on the
main left hand side navigation buttons under the title Using
We have added a significant information resource covering
current research on Platform Rides
- this includes full histories of Arks, Waltzers, Autodromes, Caterpillars
and Swirls. This section will also contain its own dedicated news page
to track current events in this shrinking field. Comments and contributions
We have added a complete 'list format' of all Miami
Trip rides in the UK. We will endeavour to keep this up to date where
Finally we have added new pages charting the histories
of Rock-o-plane and Big
Deakin's Swirl at Oxford
The NFA is excited to present the first images from
the late David Braithwaite
collection. These pictures are of a superior quality in all aspects -
composition, subject and photographic. We have added a dedicated set of
galleries featuring his work, and also a special front page gallery showing
his images of fairground workers.
Here are the links: Grafting
Down-time for Thurston's Hurricane Jets
Contributor David Moreland has prepared an article focussing
on early postcard communications between showmen. These postcards served
many purposes - advertising, communication, history, business, etc. The
article can be viewed here.
to come in 2007
The National Fairground Archive has
great plans for 2007, look out for further details of the following:
- Brand new premises with expanded access and facilities
is the top of our agenda for the year. This will include an increased
user area with dedicated tables for work, full digital access to databases,
printing and microfilm reading facilities and a brand new exhibition
space. The move to a new premises will occur through the summer of 2007,
and will necessitate the closure of the archive for a short period.
- A film show and full event for the anniversary of
the Fairground Association of Great Britain. This will provide an opportunity
to view rare and fascinating film footage held by the National Fairground
Archive - all of which will be previously unseen.
- Creation of the digital gateway to the Orton and
Spooner Collection. As announced last year, the FAGB has provided a
generous grant to commence the conservation and digitisation of the
David Braithwaite collection, which includes David's acquired archival
material from the Orton and Spooner company. This material has now been
accessioned and catalogued, and is currently undergoing digitisation
and indexing to create public access.
- Mitchell & Kenyon, our ground-breaking project,
continues to move on with further shows and the publication of 2 new
DVDs covering sport and Ireland. In addition, a major musical event
is set for Manchester in the spring.
- The National Fairground Archive is currently curating
a film show for a newly commissioned travelling cinematograph show.
This will tour 5 major European fairs throughout 2007.
- Family historians will finally get some valuable
help with an in-house project that prepares a name index from the early
World's Fair newspapers. The project commences in the next few weeks
and will be available later in the year.
new gallery for the new year
Brian Collins' Gallopers at Alton Towers
We start the new year with a new gallery showing more
of the breath-taking slides taken by the late Ron Kinder. This latest
selection covers his interest in the Gallopers ride. Click here
for the feature.
Mitchell & Kenyon book out now!
The fullest research on this groundbreaking subject...
The National Fairground Archive is
proud to announce the publication of Electric Edwardians, by NFA director
Dr Vanessa Toulmin. This fully illustrated, 312 page book offers the complete
picture on the legendary Mitchell & Kenyon film-makers.
The NFA has a strictly limited number of copies available
for advance purchase, fully signed by the author. To take advantage of
this offer please click here
to access our publications page.