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The Fair fortnight

When I was growing up the Govan fair was a big deal each year. Not only was Fair Friday itself a big thing but it also signalled the start of the Fair fortnight when my dad (and everybody else’s dad) had their annual holiday.


The Govan Fair is said to be the oldest fair in the city of Glasgow, it was started in 1756 by the weavers in the Burgh of Govan. It's held on the first Friday of June and the fair fortnight was the fortnight of factory holiday that followed it. The fair is separate from the Glasgow Fair as until 1912 Govan was not part of Glasgow.

The Glasgow Fair is a holiday during the last fortnight in July in the city of Glasgow. “The Fair” is the also said to be the oldest of a number of similar holidays, dating from the 12th century. Originally Glasgow fair was held during the second and third week in July before moving in the 1970s.

Until as recently as the 1960s most local businesses and factories would close on 'Fair Friday' and workers and their families would use the opportunity to travel for holidays in the local area, typically in the Firth of Clyde and the Ayrshire coast. This practice became known as going "doon the watter" (literally "down the water). I remember Largs, Dunoon, Millport (a sea trip!), Saltcoats and Rothsay. The boats/ships were often paddleboats.

Glasgow Fair has been historically associated with the holding of an actual fair in the city of Glasgow. From the 1800s, this event was held on Glasgow Green. Originally the fair focused on the sale of horses, cattle and the hiring of servants. In later times, the fair became better known for its amusements, with circus and theatre shows popular.

Last modified onThursday, 22 December 2016 08:43

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