Burnham Market Craft Fair has everything from A-Z (almost!)

Children's entertainer, Poz,  drew large audiences at Burnham Marlet Craft Fair. MLNF15PB08880 ANL-150818-152502001
Children's entertainer, Poz, drew large audiences at Burnham Marlet Craft Fair. MLNF15PB08880 ANL-150818-152502001
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Burnham Market’s 40th Craft Fair provided everything from A for aromatherapy to W to woodwork among its 109 stalls.

In between, there was basket work, ceramics, food, glassware, pottery, jewellery, metal work, textiles and a host more with children’s entertainer, Poz, too.

Thornham Bagladies, Christine Berridge (left), and Wendy Brooks with some of the attractive stitch work  that helps raise money for their local community MLNF15PB08884 ANL-150818-153607001

Thornham Bagladies, Christine Berridge (left), and Wendy Brooks with some of the attractive stitch work that helps raise money for their local community MLNF15PB08884 ANL-150818-153607001

Back in 1975, local coalman, Neville Alexander with his lorry, roused his helpers at 5am to transport wobbly trestle tables, on which exhibitors displayed their wares, from the village hall to Market Place.

Today that same area is a kaleidoscope of cheek-by-jowl tents and custom-made displays as befitting one of the major craft fairs in East Anglia.

Organised by chairman, Bob Lambert, secretary Geoff Hanley, treasurer Lawrence Rubin and Peter Towler and a band of willing helpers, the event attracts many thousands to the village each year.

The event is still predominately a showcase for Norfolk crafts and underlines the strength of the skill of artisans who have shown that hand-made cottage-style industries still have their place alongside the mass-produced products of a post-industrial age.

Julie King starts work on another bicycle basket MLNF15PB0881 ANL-150818-152833001

Julie King starts work on another bicycle basket MLNF15PB0881 ANL-150818-152833001

Much is traditional but the fair also throws up the unusual such as Neil Gladwell who is not a ropemaker, but a maker of items from ropes ranging from toys for dogs and cats to enormous doors stops with dog leads, table and floor mates and umbrella stands in between.

Or Merope Pease whose colourful model sailing boats rely on recycled driftwood and Mary Bowes, launching her first ever public showing of her mosaic surrounded mirrors decorated with stained glass and sparkling ceramics.

Basketmaker, Julie King, harked back to Victorian and Edwardian times by demonstrating how to make woven baskets out of willow once only seen on sturdy sit-up-and-beg bicycles, ridden by vicars and maiden aunts, but which now adorn modern high performance machines.

Food was an important ingredient with one showing that the younger generation, contrary to some opinions, was up to scratch when it came to the art of home-cooking.

Neil Gladwell makes a variety of surprising objects out of rope MLNF15PB08883 ANL-150818-153348001

Neil Gladwell makes a variety of surprising objects out of rope MLNF15PB08883 ANL-150818-153348001

Youngsters belonging to the Nelson Rural Scout Group swiftly sold out jams and chutneys.

There was also a strong reminder of the many people whose craft work helps their community.

Bagladies of Thornham are a small group of volunteers whose work includes stitching, knitting, baking, making costume jewellery and donating surplus garden produce to raise funds.

Their efforts over the past eight years have raised £35,000.

Mary Bowes displayed colourful mirrors that dazzled the eyes.  This one figures the beach huts at Wells MLNF15PB08882

Mary Bowes displayed colourful mirrors that dazzled the eyes. This one figures the beach huts at Wells MLNF15PB08882

They have helped equip Thornham’s new village hall, the church, the village cinema, the Kid’s Club and the History Society.

The sports of cricket, football, bowls and the indoor sports club have also benefited.

Mr Hanley said that each year they have to whittle down some 200 applicants. He said: “And each year we make sure there are a number of new stalls.”

The event is expected to raise £8,500 which will be donated to local youth projects and charities.

Those that have benefited in the past include the village primary school, the community nurses and the community car scheme who are normally major recipients. Other groups include the tennis club, the scouting movement and the play group.