The Hoppings

Now what on Earth is this all about, I'm sure you're asking ? People jumping around on one foot ? No indeed - just the largest Travelling Fair in Europe, that's all. There are in fact several Hoppings as a search will reveal, but this particular one is the largest and takes place every year during the last weeks of June (when the weather's likely to be at its most clement) in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North-East of England. Fairground people converge from all over the country to put on the largest collection of shows that you are likely to find anywhere, from the smallest hoopla stall to the latest large scale spectacular. And the folks of the region, not just the City, come out in force to enjoy themselves. Here I've assembled a collection of pictures to try to give you a flavour of what it's all like.

The Hoppings had its origins in the Temperance movement during the early 1880s, and indeed that tradition is still followed in that alcoholic beverages are not sold anywhere in the Fair. It coincides, not exactly accidentally, with Races week at Newcastle Racecourse when the Northumberland Plate (amongst others) is run; society was rather different in many ways during the latter part of the 19th. century and perhaps it was seen as a worthy enterprise to provide wholesome entertainment to the population as an antidote to what were seen as excesses elsewhere. Be that as it may, we have moved on a bit, but that doesn't stop people from enjoying themselves, though I expect some of the features of today's Hoppings would hardly have been conceived by the visitors of the 1880s.

Originally the Fair took place in Jesmond Dene, a rather narrow valley cut by the River Ouseburn as it flows down toward the Tyne, but this really doesn't offer a lot of space, and some time during the early 20th. C (I haven't been able to discover exactly when) it moved to the very much more spacious Town Moor. This latter is a large, relatively flat, open area of mostly grassland (of about 950 acres) just to the north of the City centre, surrounded by residential suburbs. Its origins go back several centuries to a time when it was given to the Freemen of the City, along with various rights such as permission to graze their cattle upon it (which they still do...), and its integrity has been protected by various Acts of Parliament, the most recent during the 1980 when a part was shaved off to build a motorway. It does have a protected status which is generally cherished by the citizens of Newcastle.

These pictures were taken using both a Minox C and an LX, the former using Ilford Delta-Pro [100 ASA], the latter Jessops R50 (described elsewhere). There's nothing to choose between them as far a quality goes, so I haven't differentiated which picture came from which. You can try and guess if you like !

The Hoppings occupies around a quarter of the entire area of the Moor, so this seems to be a good place to start. I've tried to assemble a panorama to give an indication of the size of the Fair. It's not entirely successful, but should give you some idea.
(A Zooooom Minox Submini - I wish...)

But, to begin at the beginning, the Ferris Wheel is right at the centre of things.

Ferris Wheel

Many of the attractions (if that's quite the right word) have something to do with motion, g-force, rotation and impact in various combinations and they're all represented here:

Propellor  The Rotor
So Round and Round they go...

And Up and Down...
Dive Bomber  Another Dive Bomber ?

Now what goes up, must come down and the higher they go, the faster they fall...

Going up...  And down again

Maybe this is the ultimate, or maybe they're just plain crazy...


(And yes, there was a rather nasty accident here a couple of years ago, so I'm not just being cynical)

So what else is there when your stomach's settled a bit ?

Gallery Another Gallery

Now these fellows never have any problem gathering them in..

And since when did you see young lads who could resist a challenge ?

They sell plenty of these, but who carries them home ? Why Dad of course...

Teddy Bear  More bears  Beast of burden

Now work this out if you can..What's it ? WaitingThe waiting game.

If you can believe any of this, you can believe anything !

Clairvoyants Clairvoyants

There's no shortage of eatables (if you like chips & burgers), but maybe you'd just prefer to people watch ?

Food  What's that ?  No idea !

But for some, it's just all far too much....


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Created November, 2003