How Sheffield was entertained

Vanessa Toulmin from Sheffield University with Jimmy from the exhibition on Sheffield Fun Fair
Vanessa Toulmin from Sheffield University with Jimmy from the exhibition on Sheffield Fun Fair

AN exhibition staged by the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive will see original posters.

footage and rare artefacts from two centuries of amusement and entertainment in the city. along with rare audio visual treats including films and recordings of the acts and a film of the University taken in 1905.

Drawing on the National Fairground Archive’s extensive collections along with material loaned from Museums Sheffield and the Local Studies Collection, Sheffield Entertained covers the world of freak shows, the growth of the music hall and variety in the 20th century, the world of magic, early cinematograph shows and the travelling funfairs that are part of the history of Sheffield.

Prof Vanessa Toulmin, Director of the National Fairground Archive, said: “Sheffield has a long and important association with the travelling fairground community. Modern fairs are held almost weekly within the city boundaries, but historical fairs such as Crookes Feast and Sheffield Christmas Fair no longer exist.

“Up until the 1930s, Sheffield’s great Christmas Fair held on Blonk Street was one of the most prominent travelling fairs in the United Kingdom. Famous show-families such as the Lings, the Pullens, the firm of Farrar’s Fun Fairs, the Waddingtons, the Holmes and the Whitings have all been part of the city’s entertainment fabric for many generations.”

Some 200 artefacts - including props, handbills, photographs and artifacts such as at least one sinister ventriloquist doll - will be on show as part of the display while a big screen, will feature early film footage recorded in the city and played nightly in variety halls before the advent of cinemas.

Sheffield Entertained is open every day except Sundays at Western Bank Library Exhibition Space until May 6.