Author Topic: The Fair in Sutton Park  (Read 185 times)

pipmk

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The Fair in Sutton Park
« on: October 11, 2021, 04:29:07 PM »
 This is something Jan Ross and I wrote concerning the Fair next to Sutton Park .   


            "The Crystal Palace and the Fair. Welcome to the Pleasure Dome."                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


 Roughly where the Leisure Centre stands today over a 150 years ago there was a magnificent entertainment called The Royal Promenade Gardens. It covered 10 acres and had a fernery, large rhododendron area, Rose beds, an Italian garden, lawns, ornamental plantations, a bowling green, cricket, archery and croquet areas. It also had an ornamental lake and a conservatory. The conservatory was modelled on the Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition of1851 and called after it. There was a hotel next to it with shelter for 1500 people and  stabling for 50 horses, 30 acres of meadow. Facilities for boating fishing, cycling and children’s swings completed the offerings. It was also noted there were shady avenues and arbours for “spooning”. All of this was the creation of a market gardener called Job Cole  who converted his land there to create it.  He was an experienced horticulturist and business man having previously owned market gardens in the Birmingham area. It is unclear how  he would finance such a massive undertaking but it was one of the results of the expansion of the railways coupled with very cheap fares. Sutton was to be blessed with three stations, two lines and a third planned. Speculation in all fields followed the railway and various  important  figures in the Sutton area saw profits to be made so he would have had access to such monies. Sutton was already very well regarded for its air and pleasant climate. Excursions from Birmingham were popular and frequent. The coming of the railway was to raise this to a completely different level 110,000 visitors came each year with railway excursion ticket sales of 77,500. Everybody seemed to be making money and Sutton saw a housing and development boom. Cole went public but initial euphoria died and the site did not turn out to be profitable in the long term. It must be speculation without access to the companies books but it seems likely that with an Rail Excursion costing only a shilling including admittance to the Gardens was a bargain for the visitor and the Railway Company but not for Mr Cole. The entry price to visitors arriving in other ways was also one shilling. Profit therefore relied on sales inside. Cole died in 1893 leaving £20.5s.  A Mr Earle became the owner but as a businessman he was a good drunk, spending most of his time in The Museum Public House. He was in court for non payment of rates but later, when he got so drunk he fired a shotgun towards the hotel guests and a police officer, business seemed inextricably to decline. There was also the minor matter of a floor collapse which pitched dancers into the cellar to be glossed over. A cabal of “The Captain”, “The Colonel” and “the Major” financed by other local figures, then took it on and organised an Oriental Art and Industrial Exhibition to relaunch the venue. The crowds stayed away in their thousands and it was a financial disaster. People had loaned items for display some of which were eventually returned but others were sold at auction which, judging from the prices realised, was fixed from start to finish. The creditors moved in and another period of decline set in. The buildings however were sacrosanct. As none of these owners in fact owned the land they were unable at law from actually selling non movables which enabled the buildings to survive the various financial misfortunes and brave souls to again hazard their money in the hope that they could succeed where others had failed. Eventually more finance was found and the 15”gauge railway was laid down in 1907 linking the Palace site with Wyndley pool for boating ,skating and fishing. The connection between The Crystal Palace grounds and Wyndley Pool proved popular with a changing audience less interested in evening entertainment but enjoying boating, fishing and the railway whilst using the Palace grounds for refreshment. The railway engines and rolling stock were built by a firm of model makers and was regarded as the acme of such engineering being perfect in every detail. In the ongoing years the stock was modernised and increased but still retained its superb engineering quality. In 1910 with another decline in income fortunately along came Pat Collins a showman and owner of 3 other fairgrounds .  Collins, the son of fairground entertainers was  known as “The King Of Showmen”. Here was a man steeped in entertainment. He knew what to provide at a time when tastes were rapidly changing and working people were looking for days out.He introduced new large rides, ballroom dancing in the Palace, better catering and and his concept of noise, music and excitement. He travelled the world to find the latest entertainments seizing on every new invention to power his fairground. Collins always had his finger on the pulse of popular taste, he was therefore able to turn the whole site into a profitable enterprise. The Miniature Railway  was a particular success linking as it did Wyndley and the Fair and two rival businesses enjoyed increased joint success. Between the wars the ballrooms, cafes and fair rides were very  popular and on holidays the crowds were immense. After Pats death in the 40s and the effect of the war  years the Palace dances faded in popularity , the fair visitors also  declined although the numbers had a  late surge in the lean 40’s .The railway hover was always popular and to a large extent kept the site afloat by its pulling power.  Inexplicably the council who owned the land the railway ran on refused to renew the lease and in 1962 it closed. However the railway was to outlast everything else and most of the rolling stock and engines are  after a gap of 40 years , once again in use and can be seen at Cleethorpes, almost the last survivor of a wonderland started in 1868.       

mike mancott

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Re: The Fair in Sutton Park
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2021, 08:37:23 AM »
This is something Jan Ross and I wrote concerning the Fair next to Sutton Park .   


            "The Crystal Palace and the Fair. Welcome to the Pleasure Dome."                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


 Roughly where the Leisure Centre stands today over a 150 years ago there was a magnificent entertainment called The Royal Promenade Gardens. It covered 10 acres and had a fernery, large rhododendron area, Rose beds, an Italian garden, lawns, ornamental plantations, a bowling green, cricket, archery and croquet areas. It also had an ornamental lake and a conservatory. The conservatory was modelled on the Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition of1851 and called after it. There was a hotel next to it with shelter for 1500 people and  stabling for 50 horses, 30 acres of meadow. Facilities for boating fishing, cycling and children’s swings completed the offerings. It was also noted there were shady avenues and arbours for “spooning”. All of this was the creation of a market gardener called Job Cole  who converted his land there to create it.  He was an experienced horticulturist and business man having previously owned market gardens in the Birmingham area. It is unclear how  he would finance such a massive undertaking but it was one of the results of the expansion of the railways coupled with very cheap fares. Sutton was to be blessed with three stations, two lines and a third planned. Speculation in all fields followed the railway and various  important  figures in the Sutton area saw profits to be made so he would have had access to such monies. Sutton was already very well regarded for its air and pleasant climate. Excursions from Birmingham were popular and frequent. The coming of the railway was to raise this to a completely different level 110,000 visitors came each year with railway excursion ticket sales of 77,500. Everybody seemed to be making money and Sutton saw a housing and development boom. Cole went public but initial euphoria died and the site did not turn out to be profitable in the long term. It must be speculation without access to the companies books but it seems likely that with an Rail Excursion costing only a shilling including admittance to the Gardens was a bargain for the visitor and the Railway Company but not for Mr Cole. The entry price to visitors arriving in other ways was also one shilling. Profit therefore relied on sales inside. Cole died in 1893 leaving £20.5s.  A Mr Earle became the owner but as a businessman he was a good drunk, spending most of his time in The Museum Public House. He was in court for non payment of rates but later, when he got so drunk he fired a shotgun towards the hotel guests and a police officer, business seemed inextricably to decline. There was also the minor matter of a floor collapse which pitched dancers into the cellar to be glossed over. A cabal of “The Captain”, “The Colonel” and “the Major” financed by other local figures, then took it on and organised an Oriental Art and Industrial Exhibition to relaunch the venue. The crowds stayed away in their thousands and it was a financial disaster. People had loaned items for display some of which were eventually returned but others were sold at auction which, judging from the prices realised, was fixed from start to finish. The creditors moved in and another period of decline set in. The buildings however were sacrosanct. As none of these owners in fact owned the land they were unable at law from actually selling non movables which enabled the buildings to survive the various financial misfortunes and brave souls to again hazard their money in the hope that they could succeed where others had failed. Eventually more finance was found and the 15”gauge railway was laid down in 1907 linking the Palace site with Wyndley pool for boating ,skating and fishing. The connection between The Crystal Palace grounds and Wyndley Pool proved popular with a changing audience less interested in evening entertainment but enjoying boating, fishing and the railway whilst using the Palace grounds for refreshment. The railway engines and rolling stock were built by a firm of model makers and was regarded as the acme of such engineering being perfect in every detail. In the ongoing years the stock was modernised and increased but still retained its superb engineering quality. In 1910 with another decline in income fortunately along came Pat Collins a showman and owner of 3 other fairgrounds .  Collins, the son of fairground entertainers was  known as “The King Of Showmen”. Here was a man steeped in entertainment. He knew what to provide at a time when tastes were rapidly changing and working people were looking for days out.He introduced new large rides, ballroom dancing in the Palace, better catering and and his concept of noise, music and excitement. He travelled the world to find the latest entertainments seizing on every new invention to power his fairground. Collins always had his finger on the pulse of popular taste, he was therefore able to turn the whole site into a profitable enterprise. The Miniature Railway  was a particular success linking as it did Wyndley and the Fair and two rival businesses enjoyed increased joint success. Between the wars the ballrooms, cafes and fair rides were very  popular and on holidays the crowds were immense. After Pats death in the 40s and the effect of the war  years the Palace dances faded in popularity , the fair visitors also  declined although the numbers had a  late surge in the lean 40’s .The railway hover was always popular and to a large extent kept the site afloat by its pulling power.  Inexplicably the council who owned the land the railway ran on refused to renew the lease and in 1962 it closed. However the railway was to outlast everything else and most of the rolling stock and engines are  after a gap of 40 years , once again in use and can be seen at Cleethorpes, almost the last survivor of a wonderland started in 1868.     


I went to the Sutton Park Fair in 1946 from Duddeston Mill Station on a Sunday School Outing.
I was clutching two Half Crowns (25p), one from an uncle and the other from my Nan. This was enough to enable me to enjoy almost every ride including the miniature railway, and have an ice cream.
What torment when there was only a sixpence remaining (2.5p), to have to decide about which one of the rides not so far enjoyed.




RoyMcC

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Re: The Fair in Sutton Park
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2021, 08:07:53 AM »
Nice piece of near-forgotten history there pipmk. One can't find much reference to the Gardens elsewhere. Funny how some fairly major things fade away out of the collective memory and reference sources until some good research brings them back to our attention. A good base there for a book of historical fiction maybe.


 

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