five bells & fair 046 (Small)The Funfair Showman business must be one of the only businesses in the world where the children don’t need any persuasion to get involved, and eventually take over from their parents!

Although Charmaine Stevens was made to have a good education by her parents, Joe and Peggy Stevens, the fairground was in her blood. She started working part-time, accompanied at all times by a member of Staff, at the tender age of 11, and loved every minute of it!

The Fair was originally owned by Charmaine’s Grandfather, the late, great Showman Billy Smart. One day he bought a small circus, and it grew rapidly. He never missed a chance of publicity. Charmaine was christened in the circus ring when the circus was in Bournemouth. And the Smart family brides often arrived at the church, riding on an elephant!

When the circus arrived in town, they always held a big parade from the station to their latest site. As there were as many as 23 elephants, let alone the other animals, performers, etc it always pulled a massive crowd. I used to love watching the Billy Smart’s Circus on the TV. Within a short time, it became hard to find locations big enough for both the circus and the Funfair. So they had to split.

Billy’s daughter, Peggy and her husband Joe Stevens took over the funfair. Joe built up the Fair and it travelled all over the country. Travelling to Glasgow used to take them 2-3 days! Joe and Peggy were also professional ballroom dancers. They hadn’t decided on a name for their baby daughter, and then the 1st waltz played. It was the tune, ‘Charmaine’ and that was it!

I met Charmaine in her luxurious caravan. She’s 66, but looks at least 20 years younger. The hard work, long hours, and travelling has obviously agreed with her. Jealous, Moi?!

She and her husband also have a house near Heathrow, so they often go home when the fair’s near enough to make the journey. And they can get some paperwork done in peace. After her schooling, Charmaine took a secretarial course, which has always come in useful. She has to have all the following year’s bookings completed by January, before they re-open at Easter.

Charmaine’s son and son-in-law are the first to arrive at a new site. They carefully mark out where each stall and ride will go. And they have to make sure that there are enough openings for the crowds and any emergency vehicles.

Although the Stevens family owns most of the rides, etc other Showmen apply for space on sites when the ad appears in World’s Fair, and they have to submit their measurements to Charmaine. So the Fair varies every year, and from site to site.

Most of them are known to Charmaine. They’re very professional; after all, it’s their business! As they own their own equipment, they look after it very carefully.

Every ride has an annual Certificate of Hydraulics and Engineering. Each ride has a Risk Assessment.

Charmaine checks all the Certificates and sends them to the local Councils.

Nobody can operate without one. Nobody!

Every owner carefully checks their equipment after it’s been erected.

Accidents in this country are very, very rare. This is proved because the insurances are as low as a car!

Every ride is dismantled and checked again every two weeks, when they move to another site.

They have regular staff who are family members, or who have been with them for many seasons.

Pee-Wee has been with Perry Davis for 22 seasons.

The Fair stops touring at the end of September, but there’s a lot of work to be done through the Winter; especially maintenance.

The Showmen are a close community. They go to lots of functions when they’re not working; exhibitions, weddings, parties.

But they don’t get married on Saturdays. They’re all too busy working then!

 

www.stevens-funfair.com

 

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.