Showpeople of Hampshire

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.

  • Anderton and Rowlands' Scammell truck No. 1 The Lion, 1952

    Anderton and Rowlands' Scammell truck No. 1 The Lion, 1952
  • Robert Bros elephants shipping to the Isle of Wight in 1954

    Robert Bros elephants shipping to the Isle of Wight in 1954
  • R Gillham's and Adlam's Lakin Ark The Jungle Ride

    R Gillham's and Adlam's Lakin Ark The Jungle Ride
  • Fred Gray's steam yachts

    Fred Gray's steam yachts
  • Coles' Venetian Gondolas, Portsdown Hill, 1949

    Coles' Venetian Gondolas, Portsdown Hill, 1949
  • Chipperfields' elephants parading past the South Western Hotel in Southampton on 29 April 1956

    Chipperfields' elephants parading past the South Western Hotel in Southampton on 29 April 1956
  • Coneleys' gallopers, Southampton Common, 1932

    Coneleys' gallopers, Southampton Common, 1932
  • B Cole and Sons' Chairoplanes, 1960

    B Cole and Sons' Chairoplanes, 1960
  • Gillhams Burrell and dodgems, 1942

    Gillhams Burrell and dodgems, 1942
  • Whitelegg's gallopers, Southampton Common 1958

    Whitelegg's gallopers, Southampton Common 1958
  • Wall Bros Ark, 1937

    Wall Bros Ark, 1937
  • Stokes Speedway, Southampton Common, 1949

    Stokes Speedway, Southampton Common, 1949

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.

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Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Free DVD for schools

Contact Hampshire Archives and Local Studies

About the book

Copies of the book are available to read in Hampshire libraries and Hampshire Archives and Local Studies