The 'new era' of Winsham Street Fairs was started in 1985, with its roots in a long tradition in Winsham of carnivals and similar celebrations. In 1262, the Bishop of Bath & Wells granted the village of Winsham a charter to hold an annual street fair on 29th June, the feast of St. Peter & Paul. Unfortunately, no records have been found giving any details of Street Fairs before 1985, although they flourished during pre-industrial revolution times, and probably well into the 19th Century.
Initially, photographs of the 1985 event commemorating the Monmouth Rebellion were very scarce. Over a ten year period, some did emerge, and notably, in 2012, Jim Loaring provided a considerable collection of additional pictures of Street Fairs over the years leading up to the Millennium, mostly taken by his parents, Arthur and Roma Loaring. Ann Bevis also contributed some pictures from her father's collection in 2018. These have enhanced considerably the collection of pictures of the earlier Street Fairs displayed in this gallery. In recent years, with the advent of digital photography, the volume and quality of pictures has improved, although at present we have no pictures of the 2004 event, something the web museum would like to remedy. We appeal to all visitors to this site to help remedy this by checking their own collection of pictures and allowing us to reproduce them for everyone's enjoyment.
In addition to photographs, the Web Museum has obtained details of the organisation that went into the 1985 Street Fair, the first to be held since in Winsham since the seventeenth century. Read the minutes here, they give an insight into the heavy task that falls to the Winsham Street Fair Committee in organising each event. As soon as one Street Fair ends, planning and fund raising for the next begins.
Reproductions of the printed programmes also are displayed when available, together with photographs and programmes of the drama events that have also been part of some of the Street Fairs, together with some of the fund raising events that have been held.
Street Fairs are usually held on the last Saturday of June, in line with the original Charter. The success of each event is inevitably dependant on the weather, although even during the worst rainfall, the crowds that come from a wide surrounding area, invariably enjoy themselves.
In 2013 a new Street Fair Committee was formed, replacing the committee, which was, for many years led by Colin and Margaret Slade . The problem facing the new committee was how to inject new ideas, without changing the very popular character of the event. Although times were changing, entertainment events aside, the backbone of the Street Fair remained the many small 'charity' stalls that took the opportunity to raise money for one good cause or another. They provided colour and entertainment, with participation sometimes being rewarded by a small prize. Over the years they had proved their popularity; but the stalwarts who used to enjoy running such stands were getting fewer. The Street Fair was finding it more difficult to attract the number of stands to make a good show.
On the positive side, the Street Fair continued to attract many small businesses -craft stalls-weavers, jewellery, walking stick makers-all sorts of food, drink and Ice-cream vendors and so-on.
The passing years also made clear that more volunteers were needed to mount such a relatively large event. Younger people were needed to take on the challenge.
When the new committee was formed. Roger Beer, who had been involved in the Street Fair for many years, became chairman of the committee, and gathered around him Steve Weller as vice-chairman, and recruited some younger people such as Harriet Dougherty as Secretary, and Dominic Douglass as Treasurer to form the basis of the new group. Sue Ward-Rice also joined to help with administration and fund raising.
The 2014 event would be the first Street Fair to be organised by the new group.
Below is an index that will take you to pictures and information on all but one of the Street Fairs held since 1985.
Can you help? Winsham Web Museum doesn't have any pictures of the 2004 event - please get in touch with the Parish Council if you have any information.