Tag Archives: blackheath fair

Photos from the Blackheath Funfair

Blackheath Funfair fairground ride by Emma Webb

Flickr user Emma Webb has posted some fantastic pictures of various fairground rides on the heath.

The funfair (near the Greenwich end of the heath) finished on Monday (I think?), so if you fancied eating too much candy floss, and feeling a bit ill on the Waltzer, you’ll have to make do with the photos…

It certainly looks more impressive in the dark than it did in the drizzle.

Blackheath Funfair fairground ride by Emma Webb

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Stop pointing that thing at me…

Blackheath Fun Fair near Greenwich Park

Mrs Bugle is officially lethal with a shot gun… What are we going to do with a load of tacky toys from the fun fair?! Seven shots out of seven!

Soft toys won at the Blackheath Fairground Funfair

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All the fun of the Blackheath Fair

Blackheath Fun Fair setting up
UPDATE: For info on the 2011 Blakcheath Fun Fair, go here.
I was wondering why so many people were coming to my site Googling “Blackheath Funfair”, until Mrs Bugle pointed out that the fair is currently setting up on the Greenwich end of the heath.

Blackheath Fair Freak Out Ride

So I wandered up there in the pouring rain to take a look.  There’s a good reason it was called Bleak Heath – when the wind and the rain are buffeting you around, it really is quite barren up there.

Anyway, I got there in the end, and it was totally deserted. There’s something about funfairs – they seem like the last vestiges of something unsafe, ungoverned and risky left in our safe little lives – like a kind of in-between space locked somewhere between the 19th and 21st centuries…  Maybe a sort of “liminal zone”, with some similarities to how Kate Fox describes UK pubs in the brilliant book Watching The English

Although the pub is very much part of English culture, it also has its own “social micro-climate”.  Like all drinking places, it is in some respects ‘liminal zone’ an equivocal, marginal, borderline state, in which one finds a degree of “cultural remission” – a structured, temporary relaxation or suspension of normal social controls (also known as “legitimised deviance” or “time-out behaviour”).

Blackheath Fair Terminator Ride

What a lovely book… Anyway,  I eventually found someone to speak to, and asked them when the fairground will be opening.  The answer: “Tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday”.  In other words, the fair on the heath will be open from Thursday 21st – Monday 25th August 2008.

Further reading:  The Phantom has a great piece about the Greenwich Fair here.  Fewer Dodgems and more tumbling.

If you are going to Blackheath Fair, for god’s sake, watch out for Spring Heeled Jack, particularly if you’re called Polly, and you’ve had one too many shandies…

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Springheeled Jack – Blackheath’s Bigfoot

Spring Heeled Jack

Spring Heeled Jack on a Penny Dreadful

Before Jack the Ripper terrorising Blackheath, there was Spring Heeled Jack. Part bogeyman used to scare small children, part mysterious criminal. He was popularised in Penny Dreadfuls – cheap serialised booklets, where he was depicted almost as a comic book anti-hero. Wonderful name, Penny Dreadfuls… I wonder what the modern online equivalent is?

Picture the scene in 1837 – poor Polly Adams, slightly the worse for wear staggering around Blackheath Fair, when a terrifying figure leaps out of the darkness, like the devil himself, with glowing eyes, and vomiting blue flame…

But was he real? Or just the product of an early mass hysteria? From the Black Cat Press:

He was also the first of his kind. While legends of strange phantoms have existed since the beginning of history, Spring Heeled Jack was the first to enter the official record as a real phenomenon, or at least as one whose witnesses could be found and would testify to the veracity of their experience. Part of this may have been due to the changing culture of the early nineteenth century, and the rise of mass printing technology, the first newspapers were largely responsible for the general publics awareness of the events, but there was also something unique about him. There were other similar changes at the time too, for instance the first identifiable witnesses to the infamous ‘phantom horse and carriage’ and the classic ‘haunted mansion’ also date to the early nineteenth century, perhaps for similar reasons, and even the aforementioned Bigfoot was first spotted in Canada in the mid 1830’s according to some researchers, but none captured the public imagination as Jack did. He can in many ways be regarded as Britain’s patron saint of weirdness.

Now, my much more appealing alternate theory. In the 1830s, the Marquis of Waterford developed a top secret version of what is now known as Power-Bocking. Rather than selling them to the public, and making his fortune, he decided to terrorise young maidens by leaping out at them instead. Just look at the video below, and imagine one of these heading straight for you as you wandered over the Heath in the dark… Eeek!

See Also

Really detailed page about Spring Heeled Jack
http://www.mikedash.com/investigations_jack_paper.htm

South East London Folklore Society
http://members.lycos.co.uk/skitster/

The legend of Spring Heeled Jack
http://www.thecobrasnose.com/xxghost/shj.html

Top image is from from Wilson’s Almanac. Lower image from Wikipedia.

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