Barnet Fair 
On 6th February 1588 Queen Elizabeth I  granted a charter to the Lord of the Manor of Barnet (Charles Butler and "his heirs and assigns") the right to hold a weekly market on Mondays and a twice yearly fair.
The reason for the fairs was a way of bringing people together and of course by bringing a large number of people in one place there were criminals on the prowl who would steal and drunks and fights were common. All fines for these offences were paid to the Lord of the Manor so he probably looked forward to the twice yearly events.
Over the years Barnet fair became popular as unlike the present fair it was becoming famous as the place to go for livestock, especially horses and cattle.

In 1758 John Tomlinson, The Lord of the Manor of Barnet, was granted permission to change the dates of the fairs from June to April for the first one and from October to September for the second due to it being better for business.
Animals were driven from all over the country to the Barnet fairs, with cattle from Scotland, cows from Devon and ponies from Wales. The September cattle fair was held in fields near Wood Street (until 1909) and various fields around the town were used for herding and displaying the livestock.
In September 1834 it was reported in The Times that Barnet Fair was the largest cattle market in all of England with up to 40,000 animals on offer and £100,000 being taken in trade on the first day.

By the mid 18th century Barnet fair had become associated with horse racing and races were held on the last three days of the event. The course they ran on was where the present high Barnet station now is and the last race held there was "The Barnet Stakes" on September 6th 1870.
But the fair carried on and the animals kept coming, usually to the land opposite High Barnet station.

By becoming more popular and with large amounts of money available crime became on the increase and in 1874 The Barnet Press reported that 20 plain clothes detectives, 4 sergeants and 44 policemen from London were brought in to be on duty at the fair. This probably did not work very well as in 1888 there was a serious attempt to close down the fair on the grounds that it had become a nuisance but local businessmen got together a petition that stated " It has been ascertained that an average of over 20,000 persons attend Barnet on each fair day and expenditure in the town and neighbourhood alone is estimated at upwards from £10,000 to 312,000 among tradesmen and farmers"

 This was only from the September fair as the April one had ended in 1881 when the area around Wood Street became part of Barnet common. The Home secretary decided that there were insufficient reasons to close the fair and the local people were pleased with the outcome.

            As you can see from this old photo the railway station is in the background
The place were Barnet fair resides has changed over the years. In 1859 the horse fair was held on land to the east of the railway between Potters lane and the Meadway. In 1929 development saw the fair move across Barnet hill to fields to the south of Bedford Avenue and 2 years later it moved to a field adjoining Pricklers hill. In 1934 the fair was once again moved on due to development to field in Barnet Lane with a the horse fair in one field and the pleasure fair in another. In 1935 four people were killed by a lorry at Barnet fair (for full report see below)

                The days when Barnet fair was not hidden in a field somewhere

This is more or less where the fair as we know it today is held but the horse fair has declined in the past few years with only about 20 horses for sale in a field at the far end of Mays Lane. With the demise of the use of the horse it would be the pleasure fair that was to keep alive the yearly event and to this day September is the time of the year when we can walk up to our necks in mud but still enjoy a part of the past.

Below is a report on Barnet Fair in the Victorian times written by James Greenwood, 1881 [first published 1875]

I have been at Barnet Fair on the great day of all - the Costermongers' Carnival; I have talked to many of those participating in the festivities, but as any narrative of the events must greatly depend on colour and phraseology,I think it better that the story should be told to you in the terms and answers given to the friendly inquiries
I made of one in particular among the confraternity.

"Barnet Fair comes on a Wednesday, and, of all the days that are in the year, there is not one that can come up to it; leastways, I mean with the thousands wot move in that spear of life the same as your humble servant. Christmas i sn't nothin' to it. There's nothin' stirrin' at Christmas.

There isn't nothin' in season but ice cartin' and holly and mistletoe; and, though the last mentioned as a picture looks very well piled up in a barrer, it isn't werry festive servin' it.,. out in pennorths, and everybody so stronary awaracious arter the bits wots got lots of berries on to 'em. No; Christmas time ain't a jolly time for the costermonger it's a starvin' time. It's a time when, symbolikle speakin', the wolf scratches the door open and walks off with anything wot he can stick his hungry teeth into.

Easter and Witsun is a little better; but then a man is glad to make the most of his yearnins to make up for what h'is gone back. I got back, and I ain't ashamed to own it. The wolf wot I was speaking of, after eating up mine and the missus's Sunday togs, to say nothing of a green and brass fender and our American clock, ackshurly entered the stable and seized on the pony for rears of rent; and, if it hadn't been for my brother Joe, wots in the coal way, and consequently doing werry tidy in the winter time - but I'm diwergin' from my subjeck.

"I'm in the fish way myself, consequently Wednesday suits me to a tick. Wednesday ain't a fish day among our customers. It's a rum thing, but poor people don't take kind to fish - not naturally kind, I mean. They'll hold off from it as long as they've got ha'pence enough to get a scrag of meat at the butcher's; and so, d'ye see, as the Saturday night's wages generally hold out till the middle of the week, it ain't no use inwestin' heavy in fish, till Thursday or Friday, when my customers is down to the knuckle-bone, as the wulgar saying is; so, as I said before, Wednesday couldn't suit me better if it was made to measure for me.
Not that I should stop away from Barnet, even if the day didn't fit me. No fear. It's only once a year, and even Guy Foxes have their day once per annum.
It's uniwersal, from the New Cut, Lambeth, to Dog-row, at Mile-end. It would be good for weak eyesight to find a stall or a barrer that day from one end of Brick-lane to the other.

"There's two ways of going to Barnet, like there's two ways of doing everything. You may take the rail for it - but that's not my way. I ain't a proud cove, but, cert'ny I should look down on any one that I knowed as was capable of keeping up the anniwersary in that shabby kind o' way.

Mind you, I don't hold with extrawagance; and though it was all right havin' them four new spokes put in the barrer wheels (Joe Simmon s wife being a hounce or two heavier than a hinfant, and my old gal rapidly growin' cut o' that silf-like figger she had when we was courtin'), there's no denying, as it was werry much like pomp and wanity, havin' the wehicle painted yeller with a picking out of green.
But her mind was bent on havin' every thing to match her shawl and bonnet, and, as she tenderly r emarked, bless her hard workin' 'art: 'We don't kill a pig every day, Samuel:' wich so touched me that I went the whole annimal, and had it warnished as well.
"It was a neat turn-out, cheerful without being owdacious. The sun was shinin' brightly, and we wasn't squeezed for room, being only four in a barrer, which is better than being so crowded that you are obliged to sit on the prowisions, to say nothing of the temtation to get the two-gallon bottle empty, and chucked out as an encumbrants before you're five miles on the road. It's a longish trot between Mile-end and Barnet, but long before we got to Whitechapel Church there was wisible signs of the horsspishus occasion.
There was carts and wans, and regler four-horse drags, loaded and looking as 'ansome as many a time I've seen my barrer when there was a glut of collyflowers, and they was goin' reasonable, and all in the highest of spirits, as might be seen from the way in which many of em had already got their paper garlands round their hats, and horsehair mustaches and jolly noses. I likes to see it.

There is a lively sarsiness about it that aggrawates the perlice without givin' 'em sufficient excuse to be down on yer, which is very comfortin' to be'old; but I beg it to be understood that it isn't what in superior langwidge might be called 'nobby.' It's a hindication of a mind not much above pennywinkles or creases, or any of them lower branches of the purfession what's hawked in baskets.
No reglar pony-and-barrer coster would behave as sich. Him and his missus, if he's got one, should on such an ewentful occasion be a pair of patterns and examples to the uncultiwated, and let em see, without cheeking 'em or appearing to be toffs, what is the spectable thing to do. It's better to have a drain at home, if it's only half a pint a rum amongst four, before you start, and then you can blow your bacca and enjoy the lively chaff you meets with in the crowded parts of the roads like a gen'leman.

We only made five halts on the road; the last one being more for the sake of getting a bit of raw steak [-307-] for Simmon's eye that he got in the heat of argyment with a cat's meat man wot threw a turnip at his missus, just the t'other side of Whetstone.

"We didn't drive right into Barnet, being otherwise purvided. We drew up under a hedge a yard or two out of the traffik, and got out the meat-pie and that, with the new dawg's-paw horsecloth for a table-cover, and picknicked in a manner that I wager made 'em wot stood round a'most bust with envy. A werry comfortable hour that was.

We was not alone under the hedge. There was several other parties wot I had met at the markets wet had brought their wittles; and, bein' friendly and open to deal, it was a chunk o' pie for a bit o' cold pickled pork, or a cold baked tater for a cold biled 'un, or a ingun for the worth of it in cheese, as fair and friendly as possible. After which, and the rest of the' beer wot was in the bottle, we was in a proper frame of mind to get towards the fair.
There was only one thing that clouded my cup of 'appiness goin' along, and that was the sight of them Manor of Barnet fellows outside of the Queen's Arms. Three of 'em - two with p'liceman's staffs, and one - him wot had the toes peepin' out of his boots and was smoking a dirty short pipe - that carried a sort of little barber's pole, striped blue arid white, with 'M. B.' lettered on it.

I knew 'em again direckly, having had wot was werry nigh a row with 'em on the Monday, when I bought the werry pony wot I'm driving now, and was bringin' him home. It was all about payin' a penny toll, and all who had bought a horse had to pay it, and everybody kicked at it. No pike - no giving you a ticket - no nothing; only him with the dirty short pipe that looked like a drover out o' work, and the other two chaps in their shirts and trousers, and with their sleeves tucked up and flourishing them staffs as though goadin' of you not to pay the penny, so that they might get an excuse to have a shy at you.

I don't object to tolls when it's all reglar and there's a pike to show for it - and I spose it is reglar since the perlice  allowed it; but swelp me goodness ! if I was a lord of a manor, and I wanted to screw a penny out of a poor cove wot couldn't afford it, I would contrive to put by enough out of the profits to alter the cut of them toll takers."
"I never approaches Barnet Fair but I feels proud of the purfession I belongs to, and grateful to my country.
I believe it does me a jolly lot a good, and kinder clears off the bile that twelve months at wariance with the perlice natarally afflicts a cove with. I ain't always proud of my country and them as governs it, and anybody that has been fined twice - once five, and once fifteen shillings - because his honest barrer was called a 'obstruckshon,' can enter into my feelings; but when I comes in sight of Barnet Fair I feels my werry neckhankesher growing too tight for me, because of what Simmons ses is the emoshuns swellin' in my throat.

 Here, I ses to myself, is a trybute to the wirtue of the British Costermonger! Bartlemy had its fair, but it was 'bolished. Camberwell had its fair, and quite a 'spectable class went to it, mecanicks and their families, but somehow it grew ugly, and it was 'bolished too.
Then there was Greenwich. Gents went to Greenwich with tall hats and collars and cuffs, and females dressed in the wery height of fashion, but Greenwich was 'bolished. The townpeople complained of the orful goings on, and the perlice was down on it. But our fair, the fair wot's kep going by the London costermonger, is as flourishing and rosy as ever.

A proper sort of fair Barnet is. It's snug, in the fust place. It's so down in a hole that you might clap a lid on the top, of it and shut it all in. Then there's nothing stuck up about it; no doing the grand and playing the lady and gen'leman; a good solid cut-and-come-agin kind o' fair; a pleasant mixshure of the comforts of home with the amoosements one has got a happytite for. It's a hexcellent place for grub.
You can buy a cooked bloater all hot and a chunk of bread for threeha'pence, or you can go as high as eighteen-pence for a feed off the joints and unlimited wedgatables. We had had our peck; but really, comin' on a booth where there was werry tidy-sized thumb-bits of bread and bacon and a pint o' beer for fourpence, it looked so nice that Simmons and I went in and had a snack just out of hadmiration of the thing, while Mrs. S and my old lady took a turn on a roundabout which was worked by steam, and played a organ.

"It isn't a fancy fair by a long ways, that wot is here at Barnet. It's all as real as two 'apence for a penny. It wouldn't do if it was. The eddication and sperience of the costermonger is of a kind that spiles the play of his 'magination.
Therefore there's no gipsies telling fortunes. Ha, ha! Just picter my old girl being got over by an old guy with a pack o cards, and chisselled out of sixpence, to have her 'tivity cast. She'd find summat harder than a 'tivity cast at her if she was to try it on. Just imagine one of that old lady's male relations trying the three-card trick, or prick in the garter, or the one little pea' on one of us! They know better than to try it.

They may hang about the outside of the fair and try to catch a Johnny Wopstraw or two, but they never try it on the lads of our school. You might walk through and through the fair and not meet one of the gang in question
if you looked for him. There's hardly one of us lads that couldn't give any on 'em a chalk and then beat 'em at the game he was sweetest on. It is that as keeps Barnet Fair so wirtuous. I did see one lark of this pattern. One of them sleight-of-hand young men that work the purse and money trick.

He was up on his stool with that pouch wot's got such a awful lot of 'arf-crowns in by his side, and his cuffs tucked up and his decoy in his hand, patterin away like a steam-engine, and trying to conwince them wot was listenin' how werry foolish they was not to grab at the chance of buyin' seven-and-sixpence, placed in the purse before their werry eyes, for the ridiculous sum of 'arf-a-crown. Simmons and I stood by, and Simmons jogs me, and ses, 'Blest if there isn't Long Ned Spankers ' boy a listenin' with his mouth open,' and the willain will nail him sure as eggs ain't chickens!'

And sure enuf there was young Ned - he's as long a'most as his father, and stiffish built for a lad of seventeen, but a awful fool at business. I was sorry to see it, for his father's sake, but I ses, 'Let him bite if he's green enough; p'raps it'll do him good.'
So the young man with the purse kept the game up; of course he had spotted young Ned, and talked at him till he'd almost talked him off the little 'ead he's got. At last the lad pulled out his 'arfcrown. 'Look here,' ses he, 'let's have no mistake about this ere; the seven and sixpence is in the purse?' 'Listen for yourself; can't you hear it jinkin'?' ses the chap. 'It ain't a swindle. Mind yer, it won't be good for you if it's a swindle,' said young Ned.

'It won't be good for you, you mean,' grinned the young man; 'catch hold.' And young Ned did catch hold, and parted with his two-and-six. When he opened the purse there was three pennypieces in it. 'Where's the three 'arfcrowns ? he asked savage-like. 'Ah, that's the trick,' grinned the young man with the purses. 'Oh, is that the end of it?' asked young Ned, with a twist of his wisage that made me hope some good of him. 'That's the end of it - unless you'd like to have another shy,' returned the aggrawatin' fellow, laughing with the rest.
It's the neatest trick you ever see, I'll wager.' 'I'll back the one I'm goin' to show you for twice the money,' said the young barrer-man; and makin' a spring at the chap on a stool, he had him down and with his head in chancery afore you could count six. 'The sitiwation was embarrassin,' as they say in the newspapers; and swearin' that it was all a joke, the purse dodger gave him back the 'arfcrown and sneaked off rapid. I hope his father won't read this, for on condition of young Ned spendin' a shillin' in a couple of pots of beer we promised not to tell him.

"Then there's the shows. Barnet Fair sets a example in that line sich as other places of public amoosement might get a wrinkle out of. Women's tastes ain't like men's; their ideas of enjoyment being natarally more delikit.
At Barnet they manages to suit all parties, and gives em a opportunity of pairin' off so as to suit their tastes.
For instance, while the missus went to the wax work, me and Simmons was in the next tent having a game at skittles; then we took a turn in Sluggers' sparrin'-booth, while the ladies passed a pleasant 'arf-hour in the Star Ghost carawan and got their blood froze for a penny, which, considerin the 'eat of the afternoon, wasn't dear. After that, by way of restorin' their sperits, they went to see the four-legged duck and the big-headed child and the livin' skellington;

Bill and me meanwhile enjoyin' ourselves in a wan where there was a Kaffir eating live rats; by which time we was ready for tea and a relish with it.
"After that, findin' ourselves in cheerful company, and a fiddle comin' in, we had a song and then a dance. Lots of dancers, and werry glad we were that beer was sold on the premises, and I believe we should have kep' it up later than we did, had not that confounded cat's-meat man that Simmons fell foul of in the morning poked his ugly 'ead in, on which Simmons, who had got the liquor aboard, wanted satisfackshun for his black eye. That was only fair; so while the women found their shawls they settled their little difference outside, after which we ordered the barrer, and by means of steddy drivin' and stoppin' to breathe the pony at every place that had a sign-board hanging out, we managed to get back to Mile-end just in time to get a partin' drain before the houses closed."

Doing a deal at the horse fair

And also about Barnet Fair was
by James Greenwood, 1867

In a little alley, which offers a convenient and near "cut" from our street to the main road, resides our greengrocer. He is a most wonderful man, being at once the most shrewd, and shiftless, and idle, and everlastingly active fellow that ever was born. Ours is a new neighbourhood, and we are very glad to patronise Mr. Tibbits and his perambulating store.
Blending with the music of the morning muffin-bell you may hear his melodious voice chanting in praise of his cabbages and his plums of "Arline." At midday he may be seen retailing coals, in the afternoon toiling to some carpet-ground with a cartload of dirty carpeting, and his early evenings are consumed in moving goods or servants' luggage. After that he disappears, and is seen no more that night except by the policeman and such of the public as may happen to be abroad at midnight. Then he is drunk-not helplessly so, inasmuch as he is able to keep his legs by hanging heavily on to the chorus of the last rollicking stave sung at "The Jolly Sandboys"-but very tipsy indeed, beyond question.

This was so last night, the night before, any and every night; yet to-morrow morning, certain as the rising sun, and even before the sun has risen, Mr. Tibbits will be again afoot and at work. It is the invariable habit of this indefatigable one-this cabbage-bawling, carpet-beating, gravel-carting, coal-selling, goods-removing, servants'-box-conveying,
"Jolly Sandboy"-boosing person, who never seeks his own door until that of the public-house is closed against him-it is this man's custom to work fifteen hours, to waste five, and take no more than the little remainder for rest, summer and winter, all the year round. It must be so. Covent Garden is a " solid" seven miles from Mr. Tibbits's abode, which makes the double journey fourteen, to say nothing of market stop-pages and a load to take home.
Mr. Tibbits has but one holiday a year, and that is at Barnet autumn fair time. It was only within the last few days that I became acquainted with the fact that he gave himself this holiday.

On the morning of Tuesday week his voice was unheard in the street, and we thought, to be sure, that the poor man was ill. Happening, however, that morning to avail myself of his short-cut alley, I was agreeably surprised to perceive a German band before his door, which it was only natural to suppose would scarcely be allowed if anything very terrible ailed the poor greengrocer. On arriving opposite his shop my mind was set quite at ease as regarded apprehensions as to Mr. Tibbits's state of health, though I could not quite make out the state of affairs; for there, arrayed in bran-new corduroys and a starched and snowy shirt, was our worthy greengrocer himself, adjusting his blue bird's-eye neckerchief by aid of a bit of looking-glass stuck against the wall.
The cause of his banishment from the little parlour behind the shop was evident, a gorgeously-bonneted head being there visible " putting itself to rights" in the glass over the mantel-shelf.

Having arranged the neckerchief to his satisfaction, Mr. T. donned a waistcoat of elaborate design and of the pattern known as "the dog's-paw;" and, with his thumbs hooked in the armholes thereof, came to the door, with his hair radiant of bear's-grease and his face beaming with happiness, to view the musicians; wagging his head like a loyal subject as the tow-haired vagabonds squeaked and squealed from their brazen instruments that magnificent anthem, "God bless the Prince of Wales," after the performance of which he appeared much relieved, and producing a half-gallon can from under the shop-counter, and inviting the instrumenta1ists to chink, inquired if they knew something " a little rousier," whereon they stuck up "Annie Laurie," but had scarcely proceeded as far as " Maxwelton braes" when Mr. T. imperiously waved them to silence.
"That's a rare rouser, that is," said he, with mild sarcasm; "ain't you got sense enough to serve your customers with wot's in season ? Something in this style, now;" and clearing his throat, Mr. T. favoured the astonished Teutons with the first verse of the ancient stave-
"Ere older you grow, here's a song you should know, I'd advise you to buy and to larn it,
T'other day 't happened so, with a friend I did go To see the famed races of Barnet.
Sing fol-de-rol fol-de-rol-lay."

It needed not the appearance at this juncture of Mr.Tibbits's cart and horse (the former clean washed and with three Windsor chairs ranged in it, betokening " a party," and the latter with his mane and tail neatly plaited and tied with cherry-coloured ribbon) to explain the mystery. The cat was out. Our greengrocer was going to Barnet fair. Without doubt this was his holiday of the year. Christmas was nothing to him, for, as I distinctly recollect, he left word the day before " that if extra fruit or anything was wanted, he should be open all day;" on Derby Day he was bawling green-peas and gooseberries; on the Mondays of Whitsun and Easter he was seen at a neighbouring fair with his cart, and up to his elbows in damaged dates, driving a roaring trade.
What was there about Barnet Fair that could attract our hard-working greengrocer so powerfully ?

I was still puzzling over this problem when I reached the main road (the Holloway Road, which is the direct line to Barnet), and a glance revealed the fact that Tibbits was but one of a thousand bound for the ancient battleground whereon, four hundred years ago, the great Earl of Warwick was defeated and slain. The highway was alive with Barnet fair-goers, and to a man they were of the Tibbits sort; though, as a rule, and if appearances might be trusted (and surely on such a day they might), not nearly so well to do.
Rattling down the road as it presently did (with three on the cart-seat and the Windsor chairs all occupied-four gentlemen and two ladies in all, the former enjoying at once a " chaw" and a smoke out of their cheroots, and with dahlias decorating the breast button-holes of their velveteen coats), Mr. T.'s equipage outshone by many degrees the generality, which were costermongerish in the extreme.

Donkey carts and donkeys were decidedly the majority; handbarrows with elongated handles to attach a quadruped between, and burdened with four and even six hulking men and women, to say nothing of the big stone bottle and the bushel-basketful of victuals. Donkey drays, "half-carts," " shallows," and every other sort of vehicular device peculiar to costermongery, had its representative, drawn by every known shape in equine nature-donkeys fat, and sleek, and prizeworthy, and donkeys spavined, lame, and chapfallen, and looking as though they had been stabled in a damp cellar till mildew had seized on their hides; ponies, fast-trotters, glossy-coated, long-tailed, and frisky, and poor wizened things with that haggard, careworn expression which is the old, ill-used pony's peculiarity; young fiery horses, which were hard to hold in, and splay-legged, Roman-nosed, ancient brutes, which were hard to hold up; "kickers," "roarers," " jibbers;" vixens of fierce blood, and who could do anything but behave themselves, and meek, languid, washed-out horses, with drooping ears, drooping eyes, drooping everything, too deeply settled in melancholy to be stirred by whipcord, and who swung one leg before the other like clockwork horses wound up to their best, and never blinked an eye, let their drivers batter their ribs how they might, and curse and swear in a way calculated to startle them, if anything would. So that, taken as a whole, the road presented a very lively picture; and people said it was many years since there had been such a "Barnet," and generally attributed the improvement to the abolition of turnpikes.
Why should not I go to Barnet Fair ? True, I had no fast trotter and light-springed cart, nor even a donkey and barrow; but the railway was close at hand, and for an insignificant 198 Unsentimental Journeys; or, sum I might, in a very few minutes, be translated quietly at my ease to the coveted spot.

I went, and arrived there about noon. My first impression was my last, and still remains-viz., that Barnet Fair is a disgrace to civilisation. I have witnessed a Warwickshire "mop " fair; I have some recollection of "Bartlemy; " I was at Greenwich when, on account of its increasing abominations, the fair that so long afflicted that Kentish borough was held for the last time; but take all these, and skim them for their scum and precipitate them for their dregs, and even then, unless you throw in a very strong flavouring of the essence of Old Smithfield on a Friday, and a good armful of Colney Hatch and Earlswood sprigs, you will fail to make a brew equal to that of Barnet. It is appalling.

Whichever way you turn-to the High Street, where the public-houses are-to the open, where the horse-" dealing" is in progress-to the booths, and tents, and stalls-brutality, drunkenness, or brazen rascality, stare you in the face unwinkingly. Plague-spots thought to be long ago "put down" by the law and obliterated from among the people, here appear bright and vigorous as of old-card-sharpers, dice-sharpers, manipulators of the " little pea," and gentlemen adept at the simple little game known as "prick the garter." Wheels-of-fortune and other gaming-tables obstructed the paths. "Rooge-it-nor, genelmen; a French game, genelmen; just brought over; one can play as well as forty, and forty as well as one. Pop it down, genelmen, on the black or on the red, and, whatever the amount, it will be instantly kivered! Faint heart never won fair lady, so pop it down while the injicator is rewolving! Red wins, and four half-crowns to you, sir; keep horf our gold is all we ask; our silver we don't wally! " Not in a hole-and-corner way this, but bold and loud-mouthed as goods hawked by a licensed hawker.

Disgusting brutality, too, had its representatives in dozens. There were the tents of the pugilists, where, for the small charge of twopence, might be seen the edifying spectacle of one man bruising and battering another; there was the booth of the showman who amused the public by lying on his back and allowing three half-hundredweights to be stacked on the bridge of his nose; there was the gentleman who put leaden pellets in his eyes, and drove rows of pins at a blow into a fleshy part of his leg; and there was a lean and horrible savage (a "Chicksaw," the showman said he was, "from the island of High Barbaree ") who ate live rats.
Decidedly, this was the show of the fair. An iron-wire cage, containing thirty or forty rats, hung at the door, and beside it stood the High Barbarian, grinning, and pointing at the rats, and smacking his blubberous lips significantly.
The sight was more than the people could stand; they rushed and scrambled up the steps, paying their pennies with the utmost cheerfulness; and, when the place was full, the performance was gone through to their entire satisfaction. The High Barbarian really did eat the rats. He set the cage before him, and, thrusting in his hand, stirred the animals about till he found one to his liking, then he ate it as one would eat an apple.

It was among the horses, however, where the chief business was doing, as may be easily understood when it is remembered that fully nine-tenths of the thousands that swarm the town and the fair-ground have in view the sale, or purchase, or "swop" of a horse, mule, or donkey.
Go to the horse market in Copenhagen Fields any Friday, and it will be found that the chief difficulty the market officers encounter in the exercise of their duty consists in the presence of a score or so of donkey-dealing ruffians, who set law and order at defiance; a slangy, low-browed. bull-necked, county-cropped, spindle-legged, lantern-jawedbig-chinned, long-waisted, tight-breeched crew, lithe and muscular, carrying a thick ash stick with a spike at the end of it, and utterly refusing to be " regulated."
Let the reader imagine such a crew, multiplied a hundredfold at the very least, and sprinkle amongst them a few butchers, a few soldiers, and more than a few blowsy, flashily-dressed costermonger women, and a hundred or so decent looking folk who have come innocently to Barnet to buy a horse; make a mob of these, and distribute amongst it all the riff-raff and rubbish in the way of horse and donkey flesh to be found within twenty miles of London, and a feeble realisation of the picture presented at the end of the High Street, looking into the space where the horse fair is held, will be the result.

Some such scene as this is presented to the eye; but who shall describe the bedlam Babel of sound that arises from the busy, ever-shifting, motley mob ? Fifty negotiations towards a sale are taking place at one and the same time, each one accompanied by an amount of yelling, and bellowing, and whip-slashing, and whistling which must have been pleasant to the ears of the " Chick-saw" rat-eater, as reminding him of the habits and customs of his tribe.
Such a thing as a "quiet sale" is unknown at Barnet. The big-chinned one, with the battered white hat and the t hongless whip, suddenly perceives a timid person of milkmanish mould furtively eyeing a gaunt, wall-eyed quadruped which he (the big-chinned one) has for sale. Instantly he slips the brute's halter from the post, and, vaulting on his back, proceeds to execute several daring feats of horsemanship, not the least of which is dashing amongst the crowd, which is quite unprepared for the manoeuvre.
A dozen of the horse-dealer's friends are on the alert and strenuously exert themselves to bring out the "points" of the animal for the milkman's inspection; they shriek, they make hideous whistlings on their fingers, they clap their hands, they take off their hats and drum frantically on the inside with the butt-ends of their whips; and, when the intended purchaser is supposed to have arrived at a proper appreciation of the animal's valuable qualities, his rider dismounts as abruptly as he mounted, and, leading the panting steed up to the milkman, ejaculates, "Four pun' ten !"
Should the milkman buy, you cannot miss the fact. " Hoi, hoi! sold again! sold again !" is roared by the partisans of the wall-eyed one's late owner, who immediately crowd around him to receive the reward of their meritorious exertions.

   The Barnet horse fair 1931

This is a report from the London TIMES for Monday September 9th 1935  Four people killed by a lorry at Barnet Fair
A police-constable and three other persons were killed and four injured when a heavily laden motor lorry mounted a footpath, scattering the crowd, as it emerged from Barnet Fair late on Saturday night.
The names of the dead and injured are:-
Dead: Police-constable James Thompson, 37, Mays Lane, Barnet: Mr. W Hudgell and his wife, Campsbourne Road, Hornsey; and Jean Hudgell 10, their daughter, who suffered injuries from which she died in Wellhouse Hospital. Injured: John Jones 29, Derwent Villas, High Road, Whetstone; Miss Emily Oliver, 26 Derwent Villas, High Road, Whetstone: Miss Ellen Kirby, Campsbourne Road, Hornsey; and Miss Beatrice Pain, Summers Row, North Finchley. Miss Oliver and Miss Kirby were detained at the hospital. Mr Jones and Miss Pain were able to leave after treatment.

The Lorry was about to pass a stationary tramcar when a motor car drew out from an open space. A collision occurred and the lorry mounted the footpath, which was crowded with people. Police-constable Thompson, who was directing traffic near by, saw the danger. He rushed to the footpath, and flinging out his arms, pressed the crowd back from the path of the lorry. Many persons were saved from death or injury by the policeman's action. He himself was struck down and received multiple injuries, from which he died soon afterwards in hospital. About a dozen people were knocked down and lay on the ground, some of them badly hurt. The injured were removed in ambulances to hospital.

Eye-Witnesses' account
An eye-witness of the accident informed a Press representative that a man in the crowd had told him that he owed his life to the dead policeman. Mr James Maxwell stated: I saw at least nine people who were knocked down in the crowd, and I picked up one young lady who was bleeding from the head and put her down on the grass. Mr James Jones said that his brother, John Jones, one of the injured, gave him an account of the smash when he was taken home after the accident. John Jones said that when he saw the lorry he made a dive to one side, but was too late and was struck down.
The lights of the lorry flashed on to the crown and people shouted. He remembered no more until he was in hospital. The lorry regained the roadway, but as it did so there was a second collision with a small car.
When the lorry mounted the pavement its load of cement bags was flung into the roadway.
Police-constable Thompson, who was married, with three children, had been in the police force about 15 years.
Inquest on four victims
Friday, Sep 13, 1935 Barnet Lorry Accident
The inquest on the bodies of the four persons who were killed outside Barnet Fair ground on Saturday night, when a motor lorry mounted the footpath, was held at the Wellhouse Hospital, Barnet yesterday.
A verdict of manslaughter was returned against the driver of the lorry, who was committed for trial and allowed bail.
The victims of the accident were:- Police-constable James Warrender Thomson, Mays Lane, Barnet, 32; William Hudgell, 41 and his wife Minnie Hudgell, 41, of Campsbourne Road, Hornsey; and Jean, their daughter, aged eight. Four other persons were injured: Mr. Vyvyan Wells appeared for the relatives of the Hudgells. Mr R Armstrong Jones represented Mr Elliott Grover, the driver of one of the motor cars concerned. Mr. A C Ponsford represented the widow and children of P.C. Thomas and Mr F Soskoe the lorry driver. Mr E R NcNab watched the proceedings on behalf of the owners of the lorry. The lorry driver, John Brooks, Southward Park Road, Bermondsey, said he was employed by Bulk Deliveries Limited, Hackney.

On September 7 he began his duties at South Mimms at 2.30am after having rested. He went to Chichester, arriving at 7.30.a.m. and with him was Robert Blake. He continued his journey to Brighton and Lewes, leaving Lewes at 1.30 for London, and stopping for food on the way. He also called at his home.
He was told to leave the load on the lorry until Monday morning, and went on to South Mimms to spend the weekend, arriving about 7.45. He went to the Beacon Cafe, where he had a meal staying there until 11.p.m.
He was at the cafe for the whole of the time, except for a quarter of an hour when he was in the Middlesex Arms, where he had half a pint of beer. That was the only alcohol he had that day. When three men asked him to give them a lift to London he said, 'Certainly, jump in'.
Two of the men sat on the seat and the third on the lap of one of them.

The Coroner - There were four of you in the drivers cab - Yes, sir.
Up to the time of reaching Barnet, the witness added, the lorry was in good runner order, and the brakes were all right. Going down Barnet Hill which he knew well his speed was about 20 miles an hour. He changed into third gear, and the lorry's speed slightly increased.
He tried to apply his footbrake halfway down the hill, but it did not respond. He pulled on the handbrake but it did not act. He saw cars and a tramcar in front of him. There were people walking up Barnet Hill on the pavement. The near side of the road was blocked, and when he found he could not stop he took the offside. Passing Fairfield Way he heard a crash.
He felt his front offside wheel strike the kerb. At the time it was very difficult for him to see on account of the cement flying into his face. The lorry came to rest underneath the bridge.
Brooks denied that he said to a police officer, 'I had nobody else on the lorry with me' His speed at the bottom of the hill would be about 30 miles an hour,

Mr Armstrong Jones.- Do you say that with two people on your left and with a third sitting on the knees of one of them, you had proper control of your handbrake on the left-hand side and of your gear lever? - Yes
Replying to further questions by Mr Jones, the witness said he did not know that he went practically head on into his clients car and turned it completely A Very long day.

Mr E. B. Knight (for the Commissioner of Police) - You had had a very long day. Had you had any sleep during the day? - About half an hour, between Chichester and Brighton.
Did you sleep in the lorry? - No, at the side of the road.
Is not the explanation of this that you were going down Barnet Hill at a very much faster speed than 20 to 25 miles an hour? - No.
I am suggesting the speed was 30 to 40 miles an hour going down the hill? - No. Arthur William Wise, Mount Pleasant Road, Lewisham, said that he hired lorries from other haulage contractors. On September 7 Brooks telephoned him and the witness instructed him to go to Lewes and pick up a load of cement.
He understood from Brooks that he intended 'stabling' the lorry at Bermondsey that night, and he had no idea that Brooks was going to South Mimms.
Frederick Charles Stanton, Ordell Road, Bow, one of the men riding in the lorry, said that they asked Brooks to give them a lift to Barnet Fair. The lorry went down Barnet Hill at between 15 and 20 miles an hour and gathered speed gradually. Suddenly he heard the driver say that the brakes had gone.
Edward Charles Gore and Benjamin Woolf, both of Bow who were also in the cab of the lorry, estimated the speed at the top of the hill at about 20 miles and hour.
Police constable Foster said that he saw pedestrians scattered to the right and left. As the lorry 'flashed by' he noticed that the cab contained more than one person. Brooks told the witness that he did all he could. He was in third gear and the lorry was still in it.

A motorist's evidence
Elliott Grover, Byng Road, Potters Bar, said that the lorry came out behind a tramcar, crossed the road, and mounted the kerb. To avoid the lorry the witness tried to squeeze the front of his car into Fairfield Way, but owing to the number of pedestrians he could only just get into the corner.
The lorry hit his offside front dumb iron and pulled the car round so that the front wheels were on the southbound tramlines and the rear wheels on the northbound lines. The lorry carried on under the bridge and struck another car in the back.
He estimated the speed of the lorry as it was going across the road at 40 miles an hour. When it struck his car the speed would be 30 miles an hour.

Police-constable Harris, Yeo, Whetstone, said that he saw a motor lorry go towards the crown on the footpath.
Police constable Thompson, with arms outstretched, moved towards them as if to push them back. The lorry ran into the crown, scattering the crowd, and he lost sight of Thompson.

Police constable Ralph Kerrison said that Thompson was standing in the road close to the kerb facing the crown, both arms extended endeavouring to force them out of the way of the lorry. The lorry mounted the footway and ran into the crowd, including Thompson.
The witness added that he went to the lorry and looked into the cabin, but there was no one there. Brooks appeared and leaned on the radiator, holding his head. The witness said: 'Do you know you have knocked several people down?' Brooks made no reply. The witness then said: Where are your three mates? and he said: 'Oh, they got out and ran back' round, facing the direction from which it had come.

Tribute to dead constable
The Coroner (Mr. T. Ottaway), summing up paid a tribute to Police constable Thomson. He said: Here you have a young constable who was engaged in shepherding foot-passengers across the road, and it seems to me that this young officer, if he had thought of himself, could have got into safely, because apparently he saw this vehicle coming upon him. But rather than desert duty, he was seen trying to press people back on to the pavement out of the way, and it was while he was going this that he was struck fatally.

The jury returned a verdict that Brooks was guilty of gross negligence. They added that they considered the conduct of the three men accompanying him on the lorry was highly reprehensible and deserving of censure.
In a rider the jury expressed their appreciation of 'the gallant act of Police constable Thomson in the sacrifice of his life in the execution of his duty.
The coroner told Brooks that a verdict of manslaughter had been returned against him, and he would be committed for trial at the next Hertfordshire Assizes. Brooks was allowed bail in his own recognisance of £50.

Follow-up reports:
Four killed by lorry Monday Sept 9 1935
Lorry driver sent for trial Saturday Oct 5 1935
Alleged Manslaughter of Four Persons Wednesday Nov 13 1935
Driver convicted of Manslaughter Thursday Nov 14 1935

                             How the travellers came to Barnet Fair in 1921