The King’s Lynn Mart was opened today by an impressive procession and proclamation of dignitaries featuring mayors from far and wide.
The weather, often so poor for the opening, was bitterly cold but the rain stayed away, as the mayor of West Norfolk Colin Manning noted as he welcomed the crowds to the Tuesday Market Place at lunchtime.
He said that this is the 812th Mart to be held in the town since it was established under the reign of King John in 1204.
“It is the first fair of the year for the Showmen’s Guild and I hope it will be a most successful year for them,” Mr Manning said.
“I always look forward to having a go on the dodgems, because although I am an advanced driver, both in terms of qualifications and unfortunately now in terms of age as well, it is great fun and – although this may get me into trouble – it reminds me of teaching my wife to drive!
“Like one or two of my predecessors I admit to not having a great head for heights or for being spun around in circles so I will have to chicken out of some of the more exciting rides that I believe are on display this time but I am sure some of the braver amongst you will certainly enjoy.”
“I want to thank everyone who has made this Mart possible ... and so it is my great pleasure to declare this Mart well and truly open.”
Replying, John Culine, president of the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain, said “I want you to keep supporting the Mart, as the Showmen will and hopefully we will have very successful year.”
The proclamation opening the Mart was read out by Elizabeth Nockolds, West Norfolk cabinet member for culture, heritage and health.
Among the dignitaries attending were the High Sheriff of Norfolk, Nicholad Pratt, Andrew Murray, mayor of Hunstanton, and North-West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham.
They were all keen to have a ride on the dodgems immediately after the opening of the Mart.
The Mart will be in the market square for two weeks. Children’s day will be on Monday, from noon, when reduced rates apply for youngsters. All rides will cost £1 except the dodgems £2 a car and Altitude £2 per person.
The Mart will open at noon all of half-term week from Monday. Opening at 6pm the following week.
Saturdays it will be open from noon. Sundays the Mart remains closed.