A Quiet Afternoon at Carters Steam Fair – 12 May 2013
Perhaps ‘quiet’ is the wrong word to describe Pinkneys Green this afternoon. Certainly in one sense, anyway. It’s hard not to have heard the shrieking whistles, mechanical organs, and tinny drone of ’50s records, all audible from the neighbourhoods surrounding the parkland.
“Quick!”, the female attendant on the Dodgems ride bellowed over the attraction’s sound-system, “There’s just a few cars left.”
But she was lying. As I sat in my bumper car, waiting for the electric overhead grid to be switched on, my father muttered to me: “Gosh, it’s a bit like Scooby Doo and the abandoned funfair.”
He was right. The place was deserted. It wasn’t just ‘quiet’ – it was dead. On that ride, at that time, it was literally just the two of us. And across the site, the story was much the same: ride operators sat idle, sideshows empty of punters, and an abundance of leftover prizes on all the stalls.
Once again, Carters Steam Fair rolled into Maidenhead on Monday for its annual weekend at home. Yet, unlike previous years, when the National Trust-owned fields have been bustling with thousands of people, today’s rain seemed to be keeping most away. It was hard not to feel sorry for the staff, who must have been feeling pretty low after spending all week setting up a fair that – this afternoon, at least – seemed to have been pretty poorly attended.
That’s not to say no one had been. The damp grass was clearly well-trodden, and I know a clan of my friends went for the fireworks last night, while I was at the final performance of Richard III. It was, though, still a shame to see Carters not quite as lively as it has historically been.
However, Dad and I wouldn’t let the drizzle dampen our spirits, so we snuck out of the house for an hour, to provide an interlude to my otherwise monotonous revision.
A couple of video clips, taken aboard the Gallopers and Dodgems rides respectively, follow.