News and Updates: Current News
We are auditioning for our regular Fright Night zombies - come along to the student workshops on Thursday 17th and 24th October to take part. Contact the NFA for more details.
new digital collection
NFA Digital goes from strength to strength - check out our latest small collection which really unearths some fairground gems. Click here to access the Peter Wellen Collection, which includes (what we believe to be) the only survivng colour images of Beach's (ex Tuby) Caterpillar - seen above.
come and say hello
The NFA will have an exhibition tent for this bank holiday (Sunday and Monday) at Norfolk Park Heritage Fayre. We have some 'hot off the press' exhibition materials hung around our tent as well as our usual giveaways and competition. Professor Toulmin and her team will also be coordinating the entertainments on offer.
Speaking with her Blackpool hat on, Professor Toulmin appeared on the BBC Paul O'Grady programme looking at working class origins and pursuits. Click here to go to the BBC iplayer broadcasting of the show.
Professor Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive recently produced Tramlines Festival of Street Arts sponsored by the Arts council of Great Britain at last month's Tramlines Festival in Sheffield - see here for some images of the fabulous entertainment on offer and more promised next year in 2014 for the NFA's 20 Anniversary.
Our NFA Digital portal is growing daily. We have just added a small collection by Ian Cawthorne which will appeal to fans of the 1970s transport scene. Click here to see this particular collection.
as if by magic
The NFA Reading Room now houses the Cyril Critchlow book collection, consisting of over 300 titles covering the subject of magic from both a practitioner and historical viewpoint. Follow the link for details on Cyril's collection.
Whilst we are in the process of migrating our data from our in-house database to our new 'NFA digital' resource we expect that the old system will experience some downtime. Please be aware that if you are booking appointments to use the old in-house resource then please check before making a visit as it could be out of action. Similarly we will not be able to deal with our current volume of image-based enquiries at the same rate of response.
Keep checking our new digital resource through the monthly news feeds to keep abreast of updates. We will shortly be reaching a target of 50,000 digital images freely available on-line.
Visual material from Shaun martin has allowed us to update our portals featuring Miami Trip artwork in the modern era. Check the links below to see updated pages:
our gallery, your gallery
Following the completion of the 'Sheffield Entertained' exhibition we have been able to add more material to our gallery page - this is for other cultural institutions to re-use our framed artefacts. We have now broken down our various collections of framed material into their corresponding original exhibitions to facilitate easier browsing of resources.
The current edition of Kirmes and Park Revue (number 190) has a great visual feature on the NFA Digital Project.
Butlins on film
Following Professor Toulmin's consultation with the Butlin's Organisation with regard to re-focussing their fairground heritage and entertainment we offer a link to the following short film documenting the project.
Around 1000 images from the year 1986 - through the Paul Angel and Ian Trowell collections. Look out for some very rare photographs taken on Paul's visit to Ireland (see above image). As an extra our new volunteer Megan has added further material from the Ron Kinder Collection.
that was 1985
Just added 1985 (the year) images to our new digital portal - 500 from the Paul Angel Collection including regular forays into South Wales, Southsea and the Midlands - plus rare images of Brean Amusement Park and West Midlands Safari Park (new Python Roller Coaster). Paul ends the year with a trip to Hull and a night-time visit to Goose Fair.
Alongside this there are about 400 images from the same year taken by Ian, including trips to Neath, Barnstaple and smaller fairs around South and West Yorkshire.
our true intent is all for your delight
We are excited to announce the first fruits of Vanessa Toulmin's link-up with the Butlins organisation. Professor Toulmin is the consultant for a new project to revisit and enliven the amusement parks within the Butlins Holiday Centres. After surveys confirmed that the public favour traditional style amusements against theme park style attractions as part of their Butlins experience, it was agreed to re-think the fairgrounds and attractions. Butlins Bognor is the lead centre on this and the new attractions and theming will be open for the 2013 season.
Professor Toulmin will be presenting various radio interviews over the coming days. Further photographs and press links will follow.
show-children and education
There are proposals to change legislation around education that will have a direct consequence on the children of travelling show-families. Click here to read about this situation and sign a petition to call for action against it.
on the wall
Just a quick visual plug to remind you of our fanstastic exhbition. For fans of the Wall of Death show you really cannot afford to miss this...
Two items of interest have recently come into the NFA ephemera collections. They are a programme of the Yellow Dwarf pantomime, from her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, 1882; and another is from my home town of sunny Stockport, the Stockport Empire on St Petersgate which later became the Astor theatre. Details of these posters and many more can be found on our holdings pages on our website.
500 images from the 1980s added to the digital portal - click here to view the new collection.
We have updated our indexes of the World's Fair newspaper - click here to view the work.
We have created a gallery of images celebrating the opening of our current exhibition 'Sheffield Entertained'. Click here to view the pictures.
biff bang pow
We have created new resource guides for boxing and midway carnivals. Other lists have been updated with recently purchased books. Check it out here
Professor Toulmin co-comperes the fund-raising initiative set-up by the late Dr Tim Richardson. 24 Hour Inspire is described as a 24 hour science-a-thon featuring lectures on a wide range of subjects including asteroids, magic, extraterrestrial life forms, music, human rights, infinity, and more. The event takes place at the University's Hicks Building on Thursday 28 February 2013 from 5pm until 5pm on Friday 1 March 2013. Look out for Professor Toulmin talking about fairground ghosts in the middle of the night.
wheels in motion
We have commenced a 2013 thread for our 'Platform Rides' section of the NFA website with a lovely image donated by Walter Chadwick. Note that previous threads are archived by the year and accessible from the right hand side box. Click here to navigate this part of the website.
The NFA was on hand to celebrate the opening of the 2013 season at King's Lynn Mart. We have refreshed our home-page montage to bring you a reminder of the occasion.
The Western Bank Library Exhibition Space hosts 'Sheffield Entertained' from February 7th through to May 6th 2013. This exhibition has been curated by the National Fairground Archive and reflects the intersection of our collecting strengths with the local traditions and history of Sheffield. Click here to find out more.
Be quick, don't sleep. Timeshift BBC4 'All the Fun of the Fair' and 'Circus Comes to Town' showing tonight (Wednesday) back-to-back from midnight. Essential viewing.
for those long winter nights
We have created a 'what's new' and guidance page for the digital portal, for those of you who wanted to dip your toe into specific collections. What's more, we are thrilled to include the first material from the Dick Scott-Stewart Collection within this new resource. Click here to get started.
Chris Rischer has kindly supplied some images of the completed models he has been researching using the NFA resources. To see examples of earlier by Chris see our case studies page.
We love the detail in this 1978 image from Gloucester Fair - the tea dispensers, the candy walking sticks, the Westlers hot dogs. To see the image at high resolution check it out on our new digital resource by clicking here.
coming in 2013
The National Fairground Archive has
great plans for 2013, look out for further details of the following:
- Showzam 2013 (15-24 February in Blackpool) featuring the best of the variety and illusion world
- Continued development of digital access to NFA material, with further collections to be added.
- Further articles for the Fairground Mercury, Platform and Kirmes Revue magazines.
- Exciting new exhibitions in the Western Bank Library exhibition space - starting with a history of entertainment in Sheffield in February 2013.
We have added around 100 plans and blueprints onto our digital portal. This is the first time we have been able to present this material to our users in such a way. Fitting for the time of year is this hand drawn plan of the Old Tyme Fair held in the now demolished Leeds Queens Hall over the 1969 festive period. You can view the full item here.
Two scrapbooks have recently come back from conservation to the NFA. The two items contain newspaper clippings, photographs and postcards among other items.
The first scrapbook is German and has items from around the 1900s. This focuses on circus acts and performers with many postcards showing oddities and curios and a Barnum and Bailey book, also in German.
The second scrapbook is a family record of the Cromwell-Knox family who were known as a cross-dressing and pantomime act performing in the early 1900s.
This adds to our growing scrapbook collection which includes the Harder Jonsson collection of lion tamer photographs.