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Updated: May 21

Things you might not know about your local Visiting Funfair


The people who own and operate the fairs in the UK are Called “Showmen”


Showmen are a unique and distinct travelling community. Showmen travel with their homes because their business is mobile. Showmen have a rich heritage and culture as a group of people and are separate from other travelling communities they are not Gypsy, Roma, Irish or New Age Travellers.

There are aprox 5000 Showmen families over 20000 people who live work and travel the UK with their Funfairs and have done so for generations carrying on the family business that the Fathers / Grandfather & Great Grandfathers started passing from father to son and many are 5th / 6th Generation Showmen


Most Showmen are Members of the Showmen’s Guild & have to follow strict guidelines & Rules


The Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain is over 130 years old. The Guild is accepted at local and national level as the negotiating body for Travelling Showmen.


Showmen pay their Taxes & Insurances just like any other Self Employed Business


Did you Know If the Ride or Equipment plays Music they have to have a performing rights licence


Did you know all fairground equipment has to be independently tested to ensure the safe operation of that equipment and also to ensure the safety of the general public and if they don’t have a test Certificate they can not operate


The Showmen follow Established routes (Run of Fairs) and have followed these routes for generations they don’t just turn up on your local park without permission


They pay the land owners (either private or council) rent to use the land they do not just turn up and use the land Free


If they are to operate on grass they have to pay the land owner a bond to repair any damage due to the great British weather


They have to follow all the rules the land owners place on them, so if they have to fence the fair in or supply toilets or have to supply bins / skips for the rubbish they have to do so at their own cost or they can’t operate


Did you know Showmen have to have permission to put up road side Posters and they have to be removed after the event has finished


Many Fairs in the UK are Charters granted 100’s of years ago by Kings & Queens and continue to this day, many are over 700 years old


Showmen Families live in Caravans throughout the travelling season (Trailers or Wagons as they are known to Showmen) after the season finishes they return to their official winter quarters (yards as they are known to the Showmen)

Published by Gary Witcomb March 2022


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Some fairs are extra special! A Charter Fair is a fair endorsed by the Crown. Crown-issued letters patent gave an individual or a corporate body, like a city borough, the privilege of holding a fair.