Stinchar Valley SWRI enjoy talk from former Gazette editor

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Wilma Gracie introduced Edwin Lawrence a reporter from the Ayrshire Post, and formerly editor of the Carrick Gazette, he presented a slide show on “All the Fun of the Fair”, together with some old fashioned fairground music.

He told the gathering that he had been born into a fairground family and spent a lot of his youth travelling throughout Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway with his family. His grandparents had a fairground in Girvan around 1919.

Apparently the Kirk Dandy Fair in Barr was the biggest fair in the South of Scotland, which was eventually closed in 1859/1860, it is believed that illicit alcohol was traded there and it fell into disrepute.

The first fairground rides were operated by manpower and may date back thousands of years, mostly roundabouts, and these were still operated by hand into the 1850s, then came the use of horses, especially to pull the show wagons, and the Lawrence families travelling theatre, one popular attraction was the “Ghost Show”, run by Maurice Lawrence.

It was an illusion using a light beam, glass and actors who were the “ghosts”.

In 1863 there was a dreadful family tragedy, whilst making fireworks in there home, a terrible explosion and fire caused Maurice and two of his sons to perish.

In 1885 a marionette side show was exhibited at Oxford St. Giles, together with a monkey and a dog.

Lorenzo Lawrence was a legendary animal trainer and walked an elephant called Maharajah from Edinburgh to Manchester, in ten days, which must have been some spectacle. Lorenzo also performed for Queen Victoria.

Tom Lawrence a performing clown wrote many jokes and his book is now held at London University.

Steam Power changed everything and larger attractions became possible, many of the engines were decorated with brass fittings.

The Open Museum at Beamish now houses a beautiful steam powered carousel dating back to the 1890s.

One of the first waltzers was in 1933.

Many fairs boast a charter from the Crown, and others are held simply by tradition.

Sue Sweet gave a vote of thanks to Edwin for his interesting presentation which was much appreciated and enjoyed by the members.

The Fun Competition of a scenic photo was won by Yvonne Jack, 2nd was Sue Sweet and third was Olive Ball.

The Main Competition of Handwriting was won by Yvonne Jack and 2nd was Rhona Anderson.

Raffle Winners were:- Nellie Lambie, Edwin Lawrence, Eleanor Murdoch and Rhona Anderson.

Wilma advised the members that if they want to donate anything or help at the Federation show to contact Maria Wilson on 01292 541438.

Wilma closed the meeting and thanked Susan Trotter and herself for the delicious tea, and to Dixie for washing the dishes.