A FAMILY of six-generation market traders are returning to Greenfield on Maundy Thursday for an emotional final visit to Road End Fair.
For Peter Winder, it will be 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.
And 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.
Even 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. 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.
But in 2016 they’ll be supported by Peter, older brother, John, sister Maureen and other siblings and relatives keen to take a family trip down memory lane. John remains in the floor covering business, operating from a shop on Salford precinct in Pendleton.
“In the old days, the Winders would travel from Salford, bringing their oil cloth, as it was then, on a pony and cart,” explained Peter, now a farmer in Atherton.
“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 came up with him we stood outside the ‘King Billy’ and set up off the back of the lorry.
“There was no beer garden at the front in those days. But the landlord agreed to let us plug our lights in because we used to stand until 12 at night.
“When I was a kid the stalls used to be on both sides of the going up the road across from the King Billy. There were also swing boats and roundabouts for the kids in the middle of the street.
“I first came back for a look round in 2011 and was sad to see Tescos. I thought to myself ‘the small businesses are going to go here.”
He returned to Greenfield again earlier this year and that was the spark for Peter to suggest making a family pilgrimage to Road End Fair.
“I have never been before so really looking forward to it,” said John. “Our Peter is the one who is into his family history but it will be great to see where my grandfather worked from.”
Saddleworth Morris Men will also be out in force at Road End on Maundy Thursday – a date that has become a traditional seasonal opener to their dancing season.