Opening of King's Lynn Mart’s museum exhibition
Lynn’s Mart exhibition was declared opened on Friday at True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum by a member of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain.
Lawrence Maxwell Appleton, known as ‘Nipper’, opened the exhibition retelling the history of the fair.
During his speech, Mr Appleton said he was proud of Lynn’s Mart as the “first civic opening for a fair in Great Britain”.
He also said the first moving picture show was opened on the Mart in the late 19th century by showman Randall Williams.
“Think about how the movie industry is now, and all because it started in this town,” Mr Appleton said.
“It was the beginning of the movies as the first picture show cinema was opened in Great Britain following on from the picture shows in Lynn.”
He also told the audience how famous Lynn engineer Frederick Savage displayed his latest fairground rides for visiting showmen to see during the 19th century.
Mr Appleton said: “A lot of business took place in Lynn with all the visitors staying in the Duke’s Head so they could see Savage’s new designs.”
Borough council trustee of the museum and local historian, Dr Paul Richards, invited ‘Nipper’ to open the exhibition, which runs until Friday, March 1, having been a friend of his for many years.
The audience was told how the fair had evolved from fire breathers, displays of giants and statuesque performers who could stand still for hours, even while people flicked cigarette butts at them.
He said: “Since 1973 all those sorts of things went away as it changed and became undesirable to have them in the exhibition. They were replaced by children’s fun houses and rides, but it was true entertainment, free of charge.
“People used to flock to the shows, especially to see the dancing girls.”
Mr Appleton is also a member of the Trinity Rotary club who created a special needs day at the Mart in which 350 to 400 children are invited to the Mart for an afternoon each year.
He continued: “It’s a special event for the Showmen’s Guild, and I am sure it is for the town as well. I am proud of the Mart and what it stands for.
“It’s been a wonderful time of my life in King’s Lynn. Our families have been coming for generations and I have been all my life”
The opening of the Mart will take place on Thursday at midday. It will run until Saturday, February 23. All rides and caravans will have left by 3pm next Sunday.
Dr Paul Richards said: “Every year True’s Yard likes to have something about the Mart because it is such an association within Lynn, especially the North end of the town where Frederick Savage had his factory.
“Nipper Appleton is a loyal server of King’s Lynn with no end of stories to tell. He represents a great example of a leisure revolution in Great Britain.
“I hope the important connection with the Showmen’s Guild will continue. The history and the culture is so rich.”
Lindsey Bavin, the manager of True’s Yard, said: “The Mart has always been a fascinating fair every year we have it.
“The showmen people behind it do not get enough attention. That is why we started this exhibition, to show the faces of the people rather than the rides and attractions.
“Lots of things have been donated over the years about the Mart and the showmen.”