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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

8 responses »

  1. I enjoyed this article about the Goose Fair. Although I lived in London at the time, I was in Nottingham for work in the early 70s, and saw it all going on. Thanks for the follow, and good luck with your blog.
    Best wishes from Norfolk. Pete.


  2. I remember Goose Fair so very well. I was born in Nottingham and lived there until I was 38yrs. I now live in Cornwall. I loved Goose Fair. We used to have Thursday afternoon off in Junior school so people could go. I even worked on a donougt stand with my first boyfriend oh so long ago. Thanks for posting this! God Bless x


  3. Fond memories of the Goose Fair from the late 70’s/early 80’s when my wife was at Loughborough Art College and I was working on the University campus. Thanks for posting.



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