Westleton Barrel Fair

History of the Barrel Fair

The Barrel Fair first took place as the Westleton Carnival in 1951. It was started by two well known locals, Charlie Alexander and Jim Fisk. Organising the carnival proved to be very hard work, so in 1953 a committee was formed. The East Anglian Daily Times was then contacted and they kindly agreed to present a miniature barrel to the winner of the first barrel race, which was won by Jack Docwra.

Originally the barrels were made from wood and pushed down the main street, although this proved to be rather dangerous when they got out of control! Later on, the barrels were pushed up the street, which was much safer.

 

Sunday entertainment at the Barrel Fair

Dances were held at Westleton, Middleton and Darsham in order to choose a Barrel Fair Queen and her attendants. The first ever Barrel Fair Queen was Joy Allum.

One of the highlights of the original Barrel Fairs were the 5-a-side football matches that took place- one of the most successful teams consisted of the five Baggott brothers, who were well known for their footballing skills.

After about 15 years the new Inspector at Leiston Police Station felt that the closing of the street in order to hold the dance was causing a problem, and unfortunately the Barrel Fair gradually wound down.

It was resurrected in 1995 and has proved to be extremely popular ever since.

(Many thanks to Frances Berry, Suffolk Local History Recorder for Westleton).