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Online Catalogue last updated 2nd of November 2021

Fairfield Folk A History of the British Fairground and its People by Frances Brown

cover photo

Since its first publication in 1986, Frances Brown's Fairfield Folk has been acknowledged as a fairground classic. This latest edition with its new information and many more photographs brings the story of the Matthews family up-to-date. The history of the travellers is handed down through the traditional method of a "Say", every important, amusing or significant event being turned into a story and faithfully repeated from generation to generation. Frances Brown, having been born into the world of travelling showpeople, was able to record the "Says" of the Matthews family going back to the early 1800s. Although some of these stories seemed to beggar belief, she has checked them against newspapers, court records, and available documentation and found them to be true, in the course of her research unearthing a wealth of original photographs.

This book not only traces the way of life of a travelling family, but charts the changes and developments of the British fairground. It should have wide appeal as it provides many personal insights into the travelling community, and records the development of their early rides such as the famous steam-driven roundabout filmed in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and Half-a-Sixpence. The book then brings the story up to date by introducing some present-day members of the Matthews family and depicting the background to the design and construction of their modern rides.


Frances Brown was born in Emsworth, Hampshire, at a time when her parents were beginning to "settle down" from their lives as travelling showpeople. As a child she spent happy holidays with her grandmother and aunts travelling to fairs in Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset. After completing a postgraduate teacher-training degree at Sussex University, she taught at the Rudolf Steiner school in Sussex, but has now begun a new career and is writing full time. Besides being the author of books and articles on traditional fairs, she has written a much-acclaimed series of novels based on the lives of some of the characters whose histories are detailed in Fairfield Folk.

Code No. 015885, 160 pages, ISBN 9780857041562, $65.00

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