Sunday, May 15, 2011

An Informal Affair

As reported in Summer Time Blues we were promised a resurrection of the Fairlop Fair this year on the first Friday in July – 1st July 2011 – to celebrate the completion of the restoration works at Fairlop Waters. To be honest I didn’t think it would happen what with all the cuts - and true to form the Project Manager reports she has no budget for the event. But that’s not the end of it.

Nobody “organised” the Fairlop Fair back in the 18th and 19th centuries – it just happened. It was on the calendar, people heard about it through the grapevine, and they just turned up from miles around for a feast of bacon and beans under the mighty Fairlop Oak tree. Sometimes as many as 100,000 people would be there. It was the 18th century equivalent of a “flash mob”.

So, what we want is for people to turn up at Fairlop Waters on the day, bring a picnic, and if you have one a talent to entertain – juggling, busking or any low key entertainment. Dress up if you like.

And if you are a local group, why not organise an afternoon out? There are plenty of you around. Commonwealth Gardeners, Horticultural Society, AHDA, the Tuesday Painting Class at FX……. Come on, let’s show Mr Cameron what “Big Society” really means. And Mr New Mayor, if you really are up for it, why not pop along yourself?

There’s plenty there to do. New childrens play area and of course the Boulders. Or just sit and watch the birds or the boats on the lake. It’s a wonderful place to relax and chill out. And don’tcha know, those who live in places surrounded by greenery are also more generous, sociable, calm and trusting – no matter how impoverished the area might be.

And while we are on the subject jawal1 lets us know about this – a consultation on a poncy art design for a new entrance sign for Fairlop Waters. Only one of the entries [shown above] gives a cost - £8,390.

In these days of austere cuts to social services, which also affects the “Big Society” volunteers, when will those in charge realise that spending our [albeit ring fenced] taxes on such extravagances is seen as taking the piss?


  1. It is time that London Boroughs refused all these "giveaways" - help parks, the horrific £100 million completely wasted on cycleways, this money is not free as the council would have us believe, but is paid for, through the precept or national taxation, it is still our money being wasted on The Whisk, unrelated art at Fairlop Waters, the "mamoth" all those pointy bits on Barking Roundabouts, the Mayor would be more appreciated if he reduced the precept to ALL Londoners, think of the time not wasted by Council Employees in bidding for all this "free Money"

  2. Over years and years of london Boroughs starting projects and never completing anything 100% wouldnt it be nice just to let a project finish from start to end and the art work the cherry on the cake?

    nothing in life is free to be honest we all pay at some point so regardless of the costs lets be grateful Redbridge was chosen for the project and not some other borough!

  3. A fair point Anon, BUT you are assuming that everyone has equal access to the cake, let alone the cherry on top of it.

  4. "Dress up" - is this your roundabout way of trying to get me to wear the Edwardian gown? :P

  5. I'm not sure I knew about that when I wrote the post, but now you mention it......

  6. NeighbourhoodWatcher1:34 pm, June 15, 2011

    Happily Googling away, I happened upon the lyrics, reproduced below, of a song "Fairlop Fair". No idea as to a tune but the Central Reference Library has recordings on CD of songs related to Fairlop Fair and this may be among them. It is also known as "Come on ye boys!"

    Useful info on Daniel Day and the Fairlop Oak may be found here


    [The following song is sung at Fairlop fair, one of the gayest of the numerous saturnalia kept by the good citizens of London. The venerable oak has disappeared; but the song is nevertheless sung, and the curious custom of riding through the fair, seated in boats, still continues to be observed.]

    Come, come, my boys, with a hearty glee,
    To Fairlop fair, bear chorus with me;
    At Hainault forest is known very well,
    This famous oak has long bore the bell.

    Chorus. Let music sound as the boat goes round,
    If we tumble on the ground, we'll be merry, I'll be bound;
    We will booze it away, dull care we will defy,
    And be happy on the first Friday in July.

    At t’ainhall forest, Queen Anne she did ride,
    And beheld the beautiful oak by her side,
    And after viewing it from bottom to top,
    She said that her court should be at Fairlop.

    It is eight fathom round, spreads an acre of ground,
    They plastered it round to keep the tree sound.
    So we'll booze it away, dull care we'll defy,
    And be happy on the first Friday in July.

    About a century ago, as I have heard say,
    This fair it was kept by one Daniel Day,
    A hearty good fellow as ever could be,
    His coffin was made of a limb of the tree.

    With black-strap[molasses rum] and perry he made his friends merry,
    All sorrow for to drown with brandy and sherry.
    So we'll booze it away, dull care we'll defy,
    And be happy on the first Friday in July.

    At t’ainhall forest there stands a tree,
    And it has performed a wonderful bounty,
    It is surrounded by woods and plains,
    The merry little warblers chant their strains.

    So we'll dance round the tree, and merry we will be,
    Every year we'll agree the fair for to see;
    And we'll booze it away, dull care we'll defy,
    And be happy on the first Friday in July.

  7. Shucks! I will miss it as I'll be on holiday then ...