Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Marsden Square or "The Square" - Pot Fairs, Fairgrounds etc

(Please click over photos: once to enlarge.
I rather think that Marsden Square, or “The Square” goes back a long long way! And what stories could it tell of old Haslingden?

I have seen many photos, in fact odd photos are shown within this very blog of social gatherings and festivals held on that very turf. No! no! no!, not turf! It was random dirt and stone as I remember, I’m sure it wasn’t clinker! I can only remember “The Square” from the 1950’s, but looking at these old photographs I am sure it had been a square and meeting place for a very long period within our history….
I suppose it was in the mid 1950’s when, The Square first came into my life, with early recollections of regularly held “pot fairs”, where my parents would drag me along (in the nicest possible way), and I had to witness the shouting, or “pitching” from guys stood alongside their large vans/pantecnicons, putting on these fabulous displays of chinaware. There was men throwing china items to one another and then catching the plates without breaking them (well in the majority of cases!). They would line up these treasures and offer them for what they said where knock down prices! Pots, dinner sets, cups and saucers and other porcelain gems would come into view.
Besides Pot Fairs, Marsden Square had hosted many other things in the past like Fire Brigade Rallies (see photo), Political and religious demonstrations had been held there. It had always been known especially for its travelling showmen, circuses and fairs.
And then there was the “square” bonfire, probably rumoured to be the biggest and best in the town those days as I remember. Who would dare to raid the bonfire of the “Square gang”, the thought of it may have brought shivers…… Not the Square gang!, stick to raiding the Station Lot, which we did on a regular basis… ( that’s us, the Carr Mill gang!)
I suppose the next issue with the Square for me was in the late 1950’s, when I can remember the fair coming to Haslingden, which it had been doing for many years previous. But better memories come from the early sixties, I can still picture them large wagons with super large generators on the back of them making such a racket, yet the whole racket was sort of taken over with the playing of current chart music being relayed through the sound system. It would have included music from, The Beach Boys, Del Shannon, Eden Kane, The Shadows and many more. This all helped to make such a great atmosphere of the fair. There was the Waltzer, or the Dodgems, the carousel, the big wheel/ or umbrellas, there was also several roll a pennies, catch a duck, darts, coconut shys, rifle shots, ice cream, and the fair would never have been a fair without its “toffee apples and candy floss”.

After all the many years this had been a public space, it was soon to come to its end, and during the 1960’s, the Borough Council decided to build flats on the Square. (see photo). And later (in 2002) the flats had been bulldozed and smaller properties were built in their place. (see photo).

Please check out this old rare article below on The Market Hotel, Marsden Square. It states within the article that the landowner at one time was Thwaites (whom I take to be the Brewery), and it goes on to say that the land was given on the understanding that it should never be built upon!)And many thanks to Jackie Ramsbottom for kindly supplying this rare old article.

9th January 2016 via Facebook Blog page JOHN AND MEGAN EDWARDS WROTE:

Harry Hamer was the son of the regular fairground owner, he came into my class at St. Jame's every time they came to town.  Mated up with him and got free rides, mid 1950's.

9th January 2016 via Facebook Blog page DOREEN NUTTALL WROTE:

My dad used to work on the fair (Hamer's) and travelled all over with them, he met my mum in Leigh while working on the fair, and we used to stay in Mrs Hamer's caravan when they came to Haslingden every year, the only time Mrs Hamer slept in the house was when she stayed at my Grans when they lived in the big house on the square.  Free rides all around.