The Goose Fair Nottingham’, 1926
by Arthur Spooner
Nottingham Goose Fair is famous around the world. It first started over 700 years ago, as a trade fair for animals. Farmers would paint their geese’s feet with tar and walk them more than 50 miles to sell at Goose Fair. Over the years entertainment stalls were added and eventually Goose Fair became a fairground attraction for three days each October.This painting shows Goose Fair when it was held in the market square in the middle of the city, nowadays it has moved to a larger site on the outskirts. The painting evokes the smells, tastes and sights of a funfair; noisy, smelly, busy, bustling, with lots to see and do. Look into the painting and smell onions, mushy peas, candy floss, petrol, smoke. Hear mechanical music, laughing, shouting, engines.
Almost everyone in the painting wears a hat, which is not normal nowadays. Who does wear a hat now and what kind of hats do people wear?The people in the painting are all busy; the policeman is chatting but keeping a wary eye out for mischief, the little boy has won a coconut and is drinking the ‘milk’ from inside, watched by his friend who is eager to get his share. The crowds are looking at the many different forms of entertainment, and the entrepreneur with he dancing bears is shouting ‘roll up, roll up’ to encourage everyone to watch.A man in the foreground is carrying buckets of water, are these for the steam engine? Why is the lady carrying a bird cage, does it have a bird inside?In the background is the old Council House, a newer version now stands in the same place. In the foreground are tram lines, which were ripped out decades ago. New tram lines have recently been laid throughout the city. The painting shows the same place as nowadays, but different
Trams run past the Goose Fair site 2012