E-Mail: info@hamptoncourtfunfair.co.uk, Phone: 020 8795 4282

News from the world of fairs

Fun Fair news from around the country

Winter Wonderland 2019

A few pictures from the opening day of Winter Wonderland 2019 - open now 10am-10pm until 5th Jan 2020.

Fright Night Competition 2019 Winner

A huge congratulations to Riley as the winner of this years Fright Night Competition on his impersonation of Pennywise! Thanks to all that participated and good luck next year.

Fright Night Competition

Thank you to everyone who participated and good luck next year. 

Armistice Day

Armistice Day

As in the First World War many showmen enlisted in the forces including the President of the Guild Charles Thurston who joined the RAF and became Flight Lieutenant and Jimmy Chipperfield who became a fighter pilot. In the History of the Showmen's Guild, 1939 –1948, Thomas Murphy estimates that over 1,000 showpeople joined the Forces with many more serving as Bevan Boys in factories, mines and other essential war services. Billy Peak was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and William Meakin the Military Medal for bravery in the Middle East, both two of the highest awards that could be awarded for bravery in combat. As in the Great War, the World's Fair newspaper carried a weekly photograph and report of the showmen who were fighting for King and Country,despite the paper rationing, which resulted in the paper being reduced to thirty two pages.

When Oxford St Giles Fair was suspended due to the start of the Second World War, the fairground community as a whole could be forgiven for thinking that their business would be devastated as it had been during the Great War. However, the Second World War was effectively the means by which the Showmen's Guild extended its authority over the travelling showpeople as a whole by fighting for the continuation of fairs and the needs of its members during this period.

Mindful of the near collapse of the industry during the First World War, when most fairs were suspended and showland society lost over 70 percent of its manpower, the Guild was better prepared and during the late 1930s it maintained close links with the Ministries of Supply, Agriculture and Fisheries and Transport.

When a state of hostilities was declared in September 1939 the Guild immediately contacted the Government to lobby the continuation of the travelling fairs. Overall, fairgrounds were allowed to continue under blackout conditions with the exception of some Charter events such as Hull Fair, which was requisitioned for the war effort.

The Stay-at-Home holidays initiative, implemented by the Government in 1942, enabled the showmen to build up power, support and economic strength on a national and regional level. Showpeople received special "Traveller's Ration Cards" and "Showmen's Vehicle Fuel Ration Cards" which they could use throughout the country. Not only were they encouraged to open fairs in the city centres and parkland, but some local authorities actually paid the showmen or waived the rent for the wartime period.


Morale was an important issue for the Government during the War. Normal holidays were impossible so in an attempt to fill the gap, the Government devised the idea of Holidays at Home. Irvin Leisure were granted concession to open fairs in many of the big towns and cities, usually in public parks. We presented a fun fair at these events, and extra attractions were offered.'

Irvin Leisure also aided the war effort in other ways including the purchase of a Spitfire, which was named ‘The Fun of the Fair'. On 24 August 1940, the following appeal was published in The World's Fair by the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, calling on its members to raise the funds required to purchase a Spitfire for the nation:

‘Other industries have raised funds to give fighter aircraft to the R.A.F. We, the travelling showmen, must do the same. Between £5,000 and £6,000 is necessary to provide a Spitfire or Hurricane fighter and many of our members have expressed the wish that they want to contribute to such a fund and we agree with them.'

Spitfire ‘The Fun of the Fair' donated to the Nation by the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, 1945

Spitfire ‘The Fun of the Fair' donated to the Nation by the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, 1945

Thomas Murphy, the General Secretary continues:

‘We have received reasonable consideration from the Government and local authorities, and have been encouraged to run our business. We should be grateful, let us show the country and the fighting services that we are. Let us show it in this practical way. Let Showland's aircraft be worthy of the brave men who fly it in the cause of Justice and at the same time for our protection ... Today is the day of duty and sacrifice. Others are doing this on our behalf. Let us therefore, do our bit and know that when victory comes, although we are not in the front line of defence we contributed our mite in providing OUR LADS with the best weapons possible.'

Action from the members was swift and within ten days over £1,500 had been donated by individual members, regional sections and organisations associated with showland such as the World's Fair. Committee meetings were organised throughout the country and by September 14th over £3,000 had been realised. The campaign to raise the necessary funds continued throughout September and October and the World's Fair published a weekly list of individual donations. By the start of 1941 and during the Annual General Meeting of Members the target figure of £5,000 was realised and the remainder of the balance was sent to the Ministry of Aircraft Productions. In a letter dated the 9th of February Lord Beaverbrook's personal secretary wrote the following words of praise and thanks:

Irvin Leisure and other travelling showmen have made a most valuable contribution to the air strength of the country. Their aircraft which we will be glad to name "The Fun of the Fair will shortly join the squadrons, ready to play its part in ridding our skies of the menace of the Luftwaffe.'

The Spitfire purchased by the Showmen's Guild was built by Supermarine Aviation Vickers Ltd and was part of a lot of 450 Spitfires. According to the research carried out by Robert Bailey and Henry Farr of the London and Home Counties Section the Fun of the Fair was a F. Mark One built as a Mark VB type 331 around April 1941. It was fitted with a Rolls Royce Merlin RM45 engine, Hispano Cannons of 20mm and 303 Browning machine guns. Its maximum performance speed was 370 miles per hour at 25,000 ft. The first flight was a general purpose test flight after which the aircraft was named "The Fun of the Fair". After it was modified for combat it was allocated to the 306 Polish Squadron, which formed part of the Allied Squadrons under the control of the Royal Air Force. It then became part of the 315 Squadron in 1942.

In recognition of the fundraising activities of the Guild and its members during 1941, the Ministry of Aircraft sent to the Central Office a steel plaque with the following inscription:


From the Second World War onwards the Showmen's Guild and Irvin Leisure went from strength to strength, updating its rules but keeping to the original principles of its founding fathers. Membership increased rapidly and by the end of the conflict membership of the Guild was restricted to sons and daughters of existing Guild members.

On a financial basis, the fairground community as a whole enjoyed an economic bonanza as fairs were welcomed back into parks and city centres. Fairs were held for the ending of hostilities and Charter fairs, which had remained closed during the war years, were bigger and better than ever. Hull Fair was again held on Walton Street and although it would be a number of years before it retained its pre-war glory, the old fair was a popular sight again in the city. As Thomas Murphy concluded the fairs:

‘Brought light, colour, pageantry, gaiety and laughter into a very sombre world and when the final reckoning is made we will have no cause to belittle our efforts, or to feel ashamed of the part we played.'

After the War

The President of the Showmen's Guild for the majority of the war years was Mr C.W.R Thurston who served until 1947 when he was succeeded by William Lennards.

Although the number of fairs and amount of equipment had increased dramatically during the war years, these were not necessarily available when hostilities had ceased. Rides were retired, or old ones redecorated to bring the fairground up to date. The 1948 Hoppings in Newcastle was patronised by Collin's Looping the Loop, Toogood's new look Moon Rocket and John Murphy's new Waltzer. Cambridge continued the pattern of mixing old and new as concerted attempts were made by the Guild and the Council to regain the pre-war standards. A Foster steam engine, which would have once been a familiar sight on the fair, was seen as a curiosity by the World's Fair reporter, who was struck by the attention it attracted. Nottingham Goose Fair opened with forty large riding machines in attendance as well as the traditional shows. Ted Cooper commentating in the World's Fair remarked on the over continuing popularity of the old time rides such as the scenic railway, the galloping horses and the steam yachts. Waltzers, Ark's, Dodgems and the Moon Rocket were the most popular rides at the fair with Eddie Monte's Wall of Death still proving to be a favoured attraction. This pattern continued at Hull Fair where the firm of Pat Collin's brought their famous Scenic Dragons out of retirement and opened next to rides of a more modern generation.

The 1940s were brought to a close on a tide of prosperity and strength in unity. The Guild and the showpeople had weathered a most severe test and had come out of the dark days of the war with increased prosperity and prestige. Showmen purchased ex-army vehicles and converted them for use on the fair and the once essential steam traction engine was replaced by diesel powered Scammels and Diamond T's. The dawn of the Rock and Roll Age was upon them where new rides, music and changes in popular culture would once again be reflected on the travelling fairs.

Peaky Blinders Festival

The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival was a blinder of a street party - full of Peakys! We had the pleasure of supplying a stage carousel and we're looking forward to next year!

Silverstone Classic Announced

Irvin Leisure are pleased to be apart of Silverstone Classic 2020.

The packed weekend of the Silverstone Classic provides spectacular classic motor racing on the world famous full Grand Prix Circuit, impressive track parades, infield displays from over 120 car clubs featuring more than 10,000 classic cars, plus interactive driving activities and dynamic demonstrations. There's plenty of entertainment to enjoy too, with live music from headline acts, aerial displays, a vintage fun fair, and a shopping village. 

Over 1,000 classic cars take part in more than 20 races on the famous circuit – the best historic Grand Prix, Le Mans prototypes, Sports, GT and Touring Cars across 80 years of racing. It's an event for the whole family and provides the ultimate annual celebration of classic cars. 

Dates from 31st July - 2nd August 2020.

More info at: http://www.silverstoneclassic.com/

£500 donation to the Mayor of Kingston

During the Kingston Ultimate Funfair £500 was raised through wristband profits and this has been donated to the Mayor of Kingston's Charitable Trust (which in 2019/20 is supporting 2 local charities: KCIL and Oxygen.

It is our continued commitment to support Local Councils and their charities wherever possible.

Helter Skelter at Norwich Cathedral

Before the day is out, I must pay tribute to a colleague in the entertainment business and Showman George Irvin -  for working with The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick -  in producing this wonderfully uplifting publicity message for all concerned and the public generally -  at Norwich Cathedral for the last 11 days for the 'Seeing it Differently ' project.   How could you top putting a 55ft high Helter Skelter (aka "Lighthouse Slip" for those in the business) other than claiming the front page of the Daily Telegraph...?   "God is a tourist attraction," Revd Jonathan Meyrick said to his congregation during the cathedral's final service with the Helter-Skelter as a backdrop.   An estimated 20,000 people have visited the cathedral between 7 and 18 August, with about 10,000 riding the Helter-Skelter, the cathedral said.   The Rev Canon Andy Bryant told the service a woman with cancer who visited the cathedral for quiet reflection found the Helter-Skelter "gave her a much needed distraction at a dark time of her life"...   Well done George and the team - you can catch up with them at Wembley's Barham Park over the August holiday, as one of many fairs taking place in the Capital and more nationwide,  marking the end of summer & the school holidays ...   https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-49389623

Helter Skelter at Norwich Cathedral

George Irvin and his company Irvin leisure were very proud to be invited to install a Helter Skelter at Norwich Cathedral recently, this Helter Skelter has such a rich history as our great grandfather James Irvin started this business in the the 1800's.   We have operated seven of these helter-skelter‘s since the 1900's so technically this makes us experts on these as we've even restored some of them.   We have attended many prestigious events over the years including William and Kate's Royal wedding and it gives us enormous pleasure to be here as part of this event.

Irvin Leisure supports St. John's Hospice

Irvin Leisure was proud to be apart of such a great occasion and helping with raising money for St. Johns Hospice and looking forward to future events.

Money raised for Princess Alice Hospice

Fair's fares for Hospice funds

Hundreds of people were taken for a ride over the Easter break – and they even paid for the privilege.

A special charity day at Hampton Court Green funfair raised a whopping £2,000 for Princess Alice Hospice – the profits from a rides discount wristband scheme.

Funfair boss George Irvin, who has regularly supported the Hospice for the past few years, said he was a keen supporter of local charities wherever the funfairs visit – with the Hospice being a cause close to his heart, and one he admires.

This week, the donation was handed over at the Hospice, where Partnerships Fundraiser Beth Sadler said: "The funfair charity day is a really good idea – people can have fun and donate at the same time – and it means traditional entertainment like the bank holiday fair, is supported by families in our area.

"Generous donations like this mean the Hospice continue to provide outstanding care to our patients in the Hospice and out in the community."

Photo shows -  Shane Clark from Irvin Leisure hands over the cheque to Hospice Partnerships Fundraiser Beth Sadler

Roller Skate Rinks

From Hire to Purchase we've got you covered

With years of experience, trust us to supply and install the perfect roller rink for your chosen event

Roller skating is an excellent way of combining fun and fitness. If you're looking to get your guests socialising, communicating and exercising, it's the perfect activity!

Hiring a roller rink for your next event couldn't be simpler with us.

Bespoke designs and branding

Our rinks can be installed on any surface you choose including grass. The roller rink then easily connects together using a rod system which when installed creates a smooth and seamless surface perfect for skating. The outer barrier system then locks into the side of the rink, keeping your guests perfectly safe. You can even install your own vinyl graphics on the barriers if you wish - they're perfect for advertising. We have worked alongside a range of businesses in the past to create fun family days out for all. Our rinks have made an appearance in town centres, youth clubs, shopping malls and community centres. Each event has always pulled in a crowd and has left everyone laughing. In short, our rinks fit all venues and all occasions! Rink sizes

The roller rink skating surface is made up of 1m2 sections, which enables us to build a rink in any shape or size and to fit any venue or location.

With our personal service, we can supply and install a rink in any shape or size you wish.

If you wish to find out more about our Synthetic Roller Rinks please email info@irvinleisure.com

Norwich Cathedral to feature fairground helter skelter

A full-size helter skelter is to be installed in Norwich Cathedral in August to give people a different view of the inside of the building.

Read the full article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-46030982

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum 2019 features a Traditional Carousel and new addition this year is our brand new Alpine Sweet Unit

Funds raised for Brent Council

Our Summer Fairs and events raised £1,000 for Brent Council and George Irvin presented a cheque to the Mayor, Cllr Arshad Mahmood, Thomas Cattermole, Head of Executive and Members Services and the Governance Team recently.

Topshop Oxford Street

We had the privilege of working with Topshop Oxford Street this year installing our Dodgem & Waltzer cars in their shop for 1 week. 

Fright Night Winner 2018

Congratulations to Renad Ahmedali the Winner of our Funfair Fright Night 2018 Competition.

Thank you to all who took part and good luck next year!

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Fright Nights 2018


A reminder that every night is fright night at our Crystal Palace and Roundwood Park Funfairs, £500 prize for the best costume.

Email your image taken at the Funfair along with your name, address & telephone number to info@irvinleisure.com


Funds raised at Queensbury Park Ultimate Funfair for Mayor's Charities

This year we had the great opportunity to work with Harrow Council and Mayor, Cllr Kareema Marikar at the Queensbury Park Family Funfair and raised £500 for the Mayor's chosen charities, Firm Foundation & The Rainbow Trust Children's Charity.

We look forward to working with Harrow Council and Mayor, Cllr Kareema Marikar in the future.

A HUGE thank you from Children with Cancer UK

Hi George,

On behalf of all of us at Children with Cancer UK, thank you very much for allowing our guests free access to the rides at your fabulous funfair on Saturday! We are so grateful to you for helping make this day even more special. Here are some of the comments from the families who attended:

‘Thank you for a great day out. It bought a smile to our little boys face after a really sick few days. We had such a lovely day!'

‘Thank you ever so much for a wonderful day that we thoroughly enjoyed as a family. It was great to see joy on my little girl's face.'

Thank you once again, we really appreciate your support!

Stephanie Revell

Events co-ordinator

Children with Cancer UK