Century of tradition lost as Epsom Derby Fair scrapped

Century of tradition lost as Derby Fair scrapped

Century of tradition lost as Epsom Derby Fair scrapped

Century of tradition lost as Epsom Derby Fair scrapped

First published in News Exclusive by

More than a century of tradition at the Epsom Derby has been scrapped after organisers axed the annual Tattenham Corner funfair to make more room for car parking.

The Derby Fair has created a party atmosphere at the world’s greatest flat race since Charles Dickens visited more than 160 years ago and it was immortalised in a picture by William Frith in 1850.

But Epsom Downs Racecourse owners said the space it takes up is needed to house a larger police marquee and extra car parking for racegoers.

Managing director Nick Blofeld, who said the decision was “tinged with regret”, also blamed antisocial behaviour and damage to the nearby golf course as other factors in dropping the historic fair.

He said: “We have a lot of our own stewards and more agencies are involved in keeping racegoers safe this year so we need a larger marquee for the joint agencies.

"We need more car parking space as we have limited spaces for the racegoers.

“There has also been a reduced demand for the fair over the years. It used to run for 10 days; last year it only ran for three or four.

“It is something we want to try this year and we will review the decision next year.”

The decision to drop the fair was greeted with anger and disappointment from some residents.

Caroline Baldock from the Epsom Equestrian Conservation Group said: “This is a Derby day for Londoners. It’s not Royal Ascot. The Derby Fair is part of the tradition and has been there for decades.

It’s a disappointment. There is no alcohol sold at the fair so any drunken behaviour comes from the race course. People should have been consulted about this.”

Epsom and Ewell Councillor Anna Jones said: “It is a real shame, this is supposed to be the people’s Derby. This is another part of the Epsom tradition which is being squeezed out.

“The number of arrests has always been very small and this is more about raising revenue from car parks than the problem with antisocial behaviour.”

Councillor Diana Coman said: “There is an historical tradition of having a fair. If there are concerns about the modern fair, a return to a more traditional format, in keeping with the tradition of our past, is just as much fun for families as the modern fairs.

“It is very disappointing the fair has been cancelled. It is a missed opportunity to consider more creative options.

“If people have concerns about antisocial behaviour, some of the more traditional events don’t attract those kinds of people.”

• Jockeys riding in the Investec Derby on Saturday will wear black armbands as a mark of respect to Vincent O’Brien, who died on Monday at the age of 92. Mr O’Brien trained six winners of the classic between 1962 and 1982.

History of the Derby Fair

Music and conjuring, clowns and coconut shies were already part of the tradition when Charles Dickens came and William Frith painted his famous picture in the 1850s.

It was all part of the atmosphere that made Derby Day something more than a race – it was the people’s holiday.

The artist Gustav Doré sketched fire-breathers and pugilists as well as noblemen baring their wrists for the test-your-strength machine.

When steam-driven rides were invented in the 1870s, the derby saw roundabouts, chairoplanes, switchback rides, walls of death, with every new marvel painted in bright fairground designs.

Generations of show folk grew up with the Derby as part of their annual round, bringing the fun of the fair to hundreds of thousands each year.

The fair on Epsom Downs has been part of the Derby for more than a hundred years.

• What do you think? Let us know by email here, phone the newsdesk on 020 8330 9555 or leave a comment below.

Comments (8)

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4:32pm Thu 4 Jun 09

Fed up in Chase says...

Although The Epsom Derby is not my Cup of Tea (as it were) I am absolutely appalled at this decision. I know many many people who take their whole familes to the Derby specifically to enjoy the day at the Fair!
This is disgusting & judging by the fact that I know many people who are "going to the Fair" this weekend, hasnt been well advertised. I have to say Epsom will have some very very very angry visitors this weekend, with many hundreds of Children being disapointed. SHAME ON YOU EPSOM RACECOURSE!!!!!
Although The Epsom Derby is not my Cup of Tea (as it were) I am absolutely appalled at this decision. I know many many people who take their whole familes to the Derby specifically to enjoy the day at the Fair! This is disgusting & judging by the fact that I know many people who are "going to the Fair" this weekend, hasnt been well advertised. I have to say Epsom will have some very very very angry visitors this weekend, with many hundreds of Children being disapointed. SHAME ON YOU EPSOM RACECOURSE!!!!! Fed up in Chase
  • Score: 0

11:10am Fri 5 Jun 09

Local1 says...

Love the irony that they've scrapped the funfair to make 'more room for car parking'. With the hundreds of people who now won't even bother going, I doubt they'll have to worry about extra numbers! Extremely bad (cynical??) move by the organisers not announcing this on their website til the day before. Cheers!
Love the irony that they've scrapped the funfair to make 'more room for car parking'. With the hundreds of people who now won't even bother going, I doubt they'll have to worry about extra numbers! Extremely bad (cynical??) move by the organisers not announcing this on their website til the day before. Cheers! Local1
  • Score: 0

11:11am Fri 5 Jun 09

Local1 says...

Love the irony that they've scrapped the funfair to make 'more room for car parking'. With the hundreds of people who now won't even bother going, I doubt they'll have to worry about extra numbers! Extremely bad (cynical??) move by the organisers not announcing this on their website til the day before. Good luck!
Love the irony that they've scrapped the funfair to make 'more room for car parking'. With the hundreds of people who now won't even bother going, I doubt they'll have to worry about extra numbers! Extremely bad (cynical??) move by the organisers not announcing this on their website til the day before. Good luck! Local1
  • Score: 0

8:40pm Fri 5 Jun 09

tommy&jade says...

first it was show-out
sunday,GONE

then they put the awful fence up ,

now the hill at tatenham corner
been GONE

and now the funfair
what a shame.

i would like to know who owns all the lands around the downs .
ALSO WHAT A RIP-OF
£35 TO PARK YOUR CAR ON THE HILLmmm
derby day
first it was show-out sunday,GONE then they put the awful fence up , now the hill at tatenham corner been GONE and now the funfair what a shame. i would like to know who owns all the lands around the downs . ALSO WHAT A RIP-OF £35 TO PARK YOUR CAR ON THE HILLmmm derby day tommy&jade
  • Score: 0

9:08pm Fri 5 Jun 09

little-al says...

4 Day Derby Meeting down to 2days.Showout sunday gone,no fair,ugly fencing and not much of a veiw.Next step the Derby at headquarters!Newmark
et.Good riddance.Give the downs back to the people
4 Day Derby Meeting down to 2days.Showout sunday gone,no fair,ugly fencing and not much of a veiw.Next step the Derby at headquarters!Newmark et.Good riddance.Give the downs back to the people little-al
  • Score: 0

10:42pm Fri 5 Jun 09

ZIPPY2 says...

I am really saddened by the decision to scrap the fair and have missed the atmosphere and build up to the Derby with the fair arriving. I have overheard many people talking about this with disbelief in local shops. One of my eariest memories is having a picnic with other families and going to the fair on Derby Day, some 45 years ago! Although the Derby is a world famous race it has also always been a family event something the organisers have totally overlooked.They have also forgotten that most of the land around the race course is common land and does NOT belong to united racecourses. I have also heard they are talking of taking the Derby away from Epsom! This race has been part of Epsom life and tradition for over 220 years and MUST not be moved. I think it will be a lack lustre event this year.
I am really saddened by the decision to scrap the fair and have missed the atmosphere and build up to the Derby with the fair arriving. I have overheard many people talking about this with disbelief in local shops. One of my eariest memories is having a picnic with other families and going to the fair on Derby Day, some 45 years ago! Although the Derby is a world famous race it has also always been a family event something the organisers have totally overlooked.They have also forgotten that most of the land around the race course is common land and does NOT belong to united racecourses. I have also heard they are talking of taking the Derby away from Epsom! This race has been part of Epsom life and tradition for over 220 years and MUST not be moved. I think it will be a lack lustre event this year. ZIPPY2
  • Score: 0

8:30am Mon 8 Jun 09

tommy&jade says...

Well, i would like to say spending the derby day on the downs in the middle of the hill ,with the funfair move into the middle of the hill the was more fights there was a bad feeling around the downs as the day went on.
i did speak to policemen later in the afternoon they
wasn`t happy with the funfair in the middle hill.
WELL DONE TO EPSOM RACECOURSE FOR TURNING THE DERBYDAY INTO A SHAM...

WELL DONE TO ALL THE POLICE WHO WORK ON THE DOWNS OVER THE WEEKEND,THEY HAD THERE WORK CUTOUT
WELL DONE
Well, i would like to say spending the derby day on the downs in the middle of the hill ,with the funfair move into the middle of the hill the was more fights there was a bad feeling around the downs as the day went on. i did speak to policemen later in the afternoon they wasn`t happy with the funfair in the middle hill. WELL DONE TO EPSOM RACECOURSE FOR TURNING THE DERBYDAY INTO A SHAM... WELL DONE TO ALL THE POLICE WHO WORK ON THE DOWNS OVER THE WEEKEND,THEY HAD THERE WORK CUTOUT WELL DONE tommy&jade
  • Score: 0

11:14am Mon 8 Jun 09

The Lord Mystigious says...

I'm glad the Derby Fair has been scrapped. Now all they need to do is abolish the Derby itself and do something more useful with Epsom Downs. This has to be one of the most boring events on the sporting calender, attended by some of the most boring people. I've lived in Epsom for 43 years and witnessed the disruption every year when this pointless event takes place. I wouldn't mind so much if it was for something worthwhile.
Let's demolish the grandstand and have an annual rock festival instead, like they have in Reading or Glastonbury, with some free tickets for local people. Now that would put Epsom on the map as a more interesting place.
I'm glad the Derby Fair has been scrapped. Now all they need to do is abolish the Derby itself and do something more useful with Epsom Downs. This has to be one of the most boring events on the sporting calender, attended by some of the most boring people. I've lived in Epsom for 43 years and witnessed the disruption every year when this pointless event takes place. I wouldn't mind so much if it was for something worthwhile. Let's demolish the grandstand and have an annual rock festival instead, like they have in Reading or Glastonbury, with some free tickets for local people. Now that would put Epsom on the map as a more interesting place. The Lord Mystigious
  • Score: 0

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