A FAMILY of six-generation market traders did not let the weather dampen their spirits as they returned for an emotional visit to Greenfield’s Road End Fair on Maundy Thursday.
For Peter Winder, it was a particularly poignant trip, more than half a century after last helping his grandfather, Jack Winder, to sell oil cloth and carpets outside the ‘King Bill’ pub.
Had it not been for Salfordian Jack, the fair and market at the junction of Chew Valley Road and Kinders Lane would now be consigned to the history books.
Legend, reputedly dating back to the Magna Carta in 1215, decrees at least one stall must open on Maundy Thursday every year.
If not, the privilege provided by Magna Carta would cease and an Act of Parliament would be required to re-start what was originally known as a ‘chartered pot fair.’
During the Second World War interest evaporated but Jack always made his annual pilgrimage to Saddleworth as his father, grandfather and great grandfather had done.
In its hey day, the fair was packed with traders, fairground attractions for youngsters, even boxing booths and performing animals.
When Peter, now 64, and Jack last stood in 1964 there were numerous stalls stretching from outside the pub, across the main road and up both sides of Kinders Lane.
Four years later two stalls were set up late in the evening to keep tradition going while in 1976 only one stall kept the fair alive.
Numbers have grown since then as a handful of locals ensure the ancient custom is protected each year.
This year, persistent rain and cold winds kept the crowds away, but a handful of stalls were set up by St Mary’s Church, Greenfield, and Saddleworth Macmillan Cancer Support.
They were joined by Peter, older brother, John, who runs a carpet shop at Salford Shopping Centre in Pendleton, sister Maureen and brothers-in-law Brian Lockett, David Strange and Paul Richardson.
And for the trip down memory lane the family came armed with an array of carpets as well as special banner proclaiming their association with the fair for 200 years.
Peter, now a farmer in Atherton, said: “We were really looking forward to it so it’s such a shame about the weather. We had to pack up as everything was getting spoiled.
“If it had been a nice day, we would really have got in the spirit and done some street auctioning.
And he recalled: “In the old days, the Winders would travel from Salford, bringing their oil cloth, as it was then, on a pony and cart.
“They also used to stand at Marsden which was another chartered fair. But my grandfather was passionate about Road End Fair and he kept it going during the war years.
“When I was a kid the stalls used to be on both sides going up the road across from the King Billy. There were also swing boats and roundabouts in the middle of the street.”