the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:16 pm

yes i agree i have been part of fairground life since the age of thirteen.i started just by accident getting out of bed in the early hours just to watch the old lorries etc on the road or to go watch them set up in my town.one day the fair arrived and me along with a couple of freinds saw showmen advertising for staff so we took the plunge and applied.here i am years later still doing the odd stint on the 'switchies''carnies' or 'showies' as people called them.nowadays though i have a full time job but i do still like to know whats going on in my adopted profession.i having worked the fairgrounds have seen many many changes through the years and have seen showmen adapt to these changes and some give up their lifestyles in order to pursue other ventures.places where fairs used to have a strong presence have now disappeared while others still remain although on a smaller scale compared to years ago.i started this story after reading another forum on here some slating the travelling showpeople others defending them.i hope i have given people an insight of what fairground life is like maybe not all parts of it but some.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:25 pm

i have met some wonderful people during my times on the road ive been called names ive had hassle from locals because of where i was from and the rest.but i learned to rise above the people that seemed to think the showmen were gypsies and tinkers.everytime i went to help the showmen there was always something in my heart that made me want to be there in the first place.seeing the smiles on peoples faces as they spun round on the rides was enough to get me hooked.i have loved every minute of it.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:20 am

there was a pub called the harmsworth it was an old industrial unit across from a showmans yard on harmsworth street.it was converted and owned by a showman called johnny codona.lit up on the outside with neon lighting i passed it on several occasions heading up to south street.it was all fenced off round the back and side of the building with fairground trucks parked up in lines at the rear.across the road there was a yard with an old railway bridge and a couple of sheds.fairground trucks rides and caravans once filled this yard which looked very dark at night.sadly the harmsworth bar and the winter yard on harmsworth street are gone giving way to new business,s eager to open up.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:28 am

a lot of the travelling showmen experience some sort of trouble along the way with locals quick to tar them with the gypsy brush.however there is a slight difference in lifestyles.showmens trucks carry special licenses because they arent on the road from day to day.rent for grounds is calculated on the length of stay and the ammount of space each tennant uses to build their equipment on depending on which shire they are open in.one tennant of a fair might for instance have 20 feet of space and the next might have a ride position which can be anything from 40 feet to 200 feet its all calculated on feet and inches.each side attraction has a two feet space between each one to allow a passageway.larger rides are either built in the centre of the fair or at the sides depending on the size of the feild rented by the showman.for years people called the showmen gypsies because they lived in caravans and turned up unnanounced on local parks and playing feilds.showmen pay rent like any householder they also have to calculate how much power each showman uses on a fairground although there are some places where the fairs operate which dont have mains power.this means that the showmens generators are used to provide power during the day and night to allow their wives to catch up on the washing etc.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:40 pm

the life of a travelling showman varies from day to day for instance at one ground they could be setting up rides or 'building up' which is a term more commonly used.each ride or attraction has a plot and has to be bang on so it fills that plot without going over the marks as set out by the lessee of the fair.the next day might consist of ride maintainance ie.welding,fixing lights,woodwork or painting.theres always plenty work to be done behind the scenes from maintainance to cleaning the rides.at other grounds the same showman might have other attractions such as food kiosks,bouncy castles etc with his equipment split up between different fairs.this means he has a lot of travelling between grounds to make sure all his or her equipment is ready to open.some showmen hire staff to work on their equipment as their familly members get married or leave the business in search of other types of employment.some staff employed have hgv class 1 and 2 licences which means a showman who has more than one truck can catch fairs more easilly.a typical day consists of dieseling up generators,trying out the attractions to make sure there are no defects then stop for lunch or sometimes get ready to open everything.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:53 pm

fairs or 'gaffs' can last anything from one day to in burntisland summer fairs case a total of 16 weeks.one week a showman could be open in glasgow the next week he could be up in northern scotland or further down the country.nowadays a few of the glasgow showmen split their travelling season attending so much fairs in scotland and so much fairs in england which is where there is a bigger nucleus of people and a better chance of making a shilling or two.in winter as a showman grows tired of an attraction he owns,they look at other rides and attractions they feel would take money.some brand new others bought second hand.once they have found something suitable the old ride goes up for sale and the new one is purchased to replace it.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:05 pm

all showmens equipment is tested before starting out by an appointed person approved by the showmens guild and if a peice of equipment failed that test it has to be fixed in accordance to the conditions set down by the tester if not the peice of equipment cant operate.there are also health and saftey officers who are there incase of an accident.some fairs are run by the showmens guild and in this scenario ground stewards are appointed to oversee the running of the fair.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:00 pm

when 'pull down' beckons theres a mad rush to make sure the lorries are tidy.everything has its own space in the lorry or trailer and if it doesnt go in that certain space its a struggle to get everything else in.spaces made for certain parts of rides and the like.spaces made for tools and power cables.spaces made for strips of lights,panels of your games stall and that spare 5 feet so as to get the bouncy castle in standing on its end.the 'pull down' part can happen straight after a particular fair sometimes late at night as soon as its nearing closing time or in other cases its left til morning when theres sun so that you can see what you are doing.once the equipment is packed away the stuff that comes with the caravans has to be packed.gas canisters,stainless steel water cans,wagon steps the television ariel etc.then everything is hooked up dieseled up ready for the journey to the next fair or back to the winter yard.start up the lorries and head off having banter along the way so as not to fall asleep while driving.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby Sharon » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:51 pm

I enjoyed those little anecdotes, it provides a nice insight into something so familiar. I grew up getting excited by the fair coming to Dumfries (pretty sure it was Codonas). it was something all the girls got excited about, the glimpse of a cute lad from out of town manning the waltzers was an exotic thing to set a young girls heart racing. Equally that same thing was always such a threat to the local boys.
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby banjo » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:47 pm

i too have been enjoying the insight into the shows.the names i recall were codonas,taylors,hornes.
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby HollowHorn » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:00 pm

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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:18 am

yes codonas ran and still operate the fair at dumfries.i guess there is just that certain buzz you get when you work at or attend a fairground.theres plenty famous names that have left the business over the years but some still remain carrying on a tradition they have been acustomed to although now in a different climate.the price of everything goes up year after year and the bills still have to be paid like everyone else and the travelling showmen struggle on in life like everyone else.im glad other people are finding this story interesting and im glad i havent wasted my time sharing my experiences.some of the taylors still travel around and the hornes are still plodding along too but kids nowadays are into games consoles etc in an ever changing world where a few years back it was the norm among many kids and their famillies to go visit a fair.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby scotsjock » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:28 pm

Well we have been on the road since early february and up to now there has been no drama new caravan purchased during the winter its all plumbed in and ready to move into. Weathers been up and down like a yoyo but that's not stopped us.deisels went up in price again this year we've had to fit specially built tanks to the trucks as the delivery drivers don't fill up the barrels anymore. Whatever obstacle we come across along the way we do our best to overcome it.well we've been out with the paintbrushes sprucing up the rides adding lights here and there and putting the attractions through their annual tests which we need to pass inorder to operate. Little or no money at some places a few quid at others. Rain the past few days so work is virtually at a standstill apart from the essential setting up or building up as the showmen call it. Final preparations for tommorow nights opening will be done in the morning.
here comes the rain again !
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby oandrews » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:54 pm

Hi everyone,

I am a Durham University Human Geography Student who is interested in speaking to any member of the fairground folk about their experience with Clyde gateway and the regeneration scheme in the East End of Glasgow. This will form a part of what I would like to research for my dissertation. I would like to know if they were properly consulted and how changes in the area have affected them.

I will be in Glasgow for around ten days in a months time and would really appreciate it if anyone would either be willing to talk to me further on here or if anyone would be willing to meet me when I come to Glasgow.

Thanks for your help,

Oli
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Re: the fairground folk of the east end of glasgow

Postby malct » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:33 pm

Hi all, this is my first post, i was lucky to spend many years in my teens Travelling with the shows in Cumbria and Scotland and scotland took some beating. From memories of flooding on the whitesands of Dumfries to the crazy long weekend at St Andrews and the hard work that went with it.
One thing that makes me wonder, What became of all those old rides, Juveniles and side stalls that have disappeared, plus what became of the names of whites and Codonas who no longer travel, I guess many are now past away or settled down.

Nice to read about the winter grounds

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