Glimpse the past through old images of the Barnet Fair, in Greater London.
About Barnet Fair
In 1588, Queen Elizabeth I grated a charter to the Lord of the Manor of Barnet, allowing a fair to be held twice a year, in June and October. This was in addition to the Barnet Market, held weekly.
Then in 1758, Lord John Tomlinson changed the dated to April and September, in the hope of increasing business.
In 1834 Barnet Fair was, according to The Times, England’s largest cattle market. At that time, up to 40,000 animals from across the UK were on display!
Horse racing was also an important event in the fair, but in 1870 the railway station was built on the site, so the focus became horse trading and funfair rides.
In 1881, the April fair ended for good, making Barnet Fair an annual event in September each year.
A film called ‘Barnet Horse Fair’ was made in 1896. We haven’t got it shown here, but this page does include footage taken during the Great War/World War I of 1914-1918.
Today, the fair still takes place, but just as a funfair.
Interesting fact – ‘Barnet’, the slang term for hair, came about as a rhyme with Barnet Fair.
And you may also be aware that Steeleye Span wrote and released a track called Barnet Fair.
Barnet Fair 1914-1918
First up is a short film clip recorded during the Great War of 1914-1918.
It records activities with the horses, then show the fairground rides nearby.
There’s also some sort of building with a tower in the distance horizon, but it’s not clear what it is.
Barnet Old Fair (1914-1918) – British Pathé on YouTube
This next clip from 1915 starts by marking the reduced levels of attendance, because many men were away fighting abroad.
It includes a lovely pan across the fairground.
The Barnet Fair (1915) – British Pathé on YouTube
Barnet Horse Fair 1922
Next is the Barnet horse fair in 1922, with railway stock wagons waiting on the rails behind the field. Presumably these were transporting the horses to and from the event.
There are also a couple of houses in the landscape in the other direction.
Barnet Fair (1922) – British Pathé on YouTube
Barnet Fair 1926
Then we have the Barnet horse fair in 1926, with some lovely views of the fields beyond, and a few houses in the background…..
Barnet Fair (1926) – British Pathé on YouTube
Barnet Horse Fair 1931
The 1931 clip focusses in on the horses and people there.
Barnet Fair (1931) – British Pathé on YouTube
Barnet Fair 1933
In 1933, there was great concern that Barnet Fair was about to close, after 700 years of operating, because of pressure on land resources for building as London crept ever nearer.
For The Last Time? (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube