Major funfair festival coming to Stafford and Burntwood
A funfair festival is coming to two Staffordshire towns this summer to entertain all the family. The Pat Collins Funfair is an annual family fun event which is returning to Stafford and Burntwood for the summer holidays this year. The funfair is operated by Pat Collins, one the country’s oldest family travelling fun fairs.
It opens at Stafford Common from tomorrow, Friday, August 5, until Sunday, August 14, before travelling to Burntwood Leisure Centre from Friday, August 10, to Sunday, August 21. For the first time in Pat Collins’ history, the family funfair will have touring artist Tess Radcliffe, who is running workshops helping visitors create fairground art to take home. And the fair will have a main stage providing entertainment in addition to all the traditional thrill-seeking rides, such as dodgems, the city hopper, the sizzler, carousel and monster trucks.
TOP STORY: Horrific illegal spears used by poachers found in Burton Thrill-seekers are also being asked for their fairground memories to help fill an online archive and chart the history of funfairs. Elleray Harris, marketing manager for Pat Collins Funfair, said: “We are really looking forward to returning to Stafford following our March event and then we move on to Burntwood where we have been holding a fair at the rec for decades.
“We’ll have all the familiar rides plus elements of a modern festival with entertainment and art workshops”. The fair is also appealing for images and memories of fairground fun, where people can send in pictures and find out more about the fascinating history of one the country’s oldest family travelling fun fairs by visiting here.
History of Pat Collins Funfair’s
Pat Collins was born in Chester in 1859, the son of a former Irish horse dealer. After his marriage in 1880 to the daughter of a Wrexham jeweller he left the north-west of England to make his way on the fairgrounds of the industrial West Midlands.
He established himself remarkably quickly and within a decade was the leading showman in the Midlands, owning several steam-driven fairground rides. In 1889 he was one of a group of showmen who met at Manchester to form what became known as the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain. He ran fairs across the whole of the Midlands and occupied positions at the most important fairs, such as Nottingham Goose Fair.
His travels were not limited to the Midlands, however and he made annual appearances at fairs in Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Home Counties. His career took different turn in 1918 when he became a councillor in his adopted home town of Walsall. Four years later he was persuaded to stand for election to the House of Commons and became Walsall’s MP, a position he retained at the following election.
Although his time as an MP was brief, he served on Walsall Council for over 20 years and during the 1930’s he was the town’s mayor. It is said that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain offered him a knighthood, but he declined the honour, saying that he had been born plain Pat Collins and that’s how he would remain. After his death in 1943 the firm he established, the largest of its kind in Great Britain, was left in the hands of his widow and a grandson.
In the post-war years it continued to dominate the fairground business, presenting four fairs every week during the season. NEWSLETTER: Sign up for email alerts to StaffordshireLive straight to your inbox here READ NEXT