The Showpeople of Hampshire is a Heritage Lottery Funded project. It aims to capture, record and celebrate the hidden heritage of the county’s fairground families. The project seeks to create a better understanding of this tight-knit community. It details their way of life and their contribution to the economy and life of Hampshire.
The project team worked with members of the showpeople community to gather a picture of showpeople’s culture and history. The also worked with volunteers from the wider population and local schools. The materials collected will be preserved and made available for all to discover and enjoy at Hampshire Record Office.
The archive includes over 1,900 fairground photographs. Fairground enthusiast, Ken Wise, collected these during the course of his lifetime. Steve Bailey donated these to the Record Office. Steve is a descendent of the Bartlett fairground family of Blissford and Fordingbridge.
The archive includes 33 oral history recordings with members of showpeople families in Hampshire. These recount stories of life on the fairground. They talk about winters spent on permanent yards, school and family life, and the daily struggle against the elements. They are transcribed and preserved by Wessex Film and Sound Archive at Hampshire Record Office.
Research in archives across the county has revealed fascinating insights into the early history of fairs. These include the county’s charter fairs and the development of showmen’s yards. Also the role of showpeople during the First and Second World Wars, and the origins and significance of the Showmen’s Guild.
We worked with two Hampshire schools to enable children from showpeople families to share aspects of their way of life.
We've created an educational DVD, a book and an exhibition celebrating the culture of showpeople of Hampshire.