The 1960s Fun Fairs!
The Hampstead Fair always used to arrive at Easter.
A string of lorries rolled towards the Lower Heath, climbing thence to The Ponds.
Tarpaulins were hauled off, the larger pieces were placed first, leaving a path for hot-dog stalls, booths and candy-floss stalls.
Fairs were held annually and quarterly and often retained the old names: Lammas, Martinmas and May Fair.
At this time, the Hampstead Fairs had been under the management of Frederik Gray and now under his sons Harry, Fred and Alfred.
On Easter Monday, the visitor could stroll down South End Road and find stalls selling peanuts, joss sticks, balloons, paper hats and a whole lot more goodies.
A man with a tame macaw would take a photo for a shilling and the children jogged up and down the hill on ponies.
The fair was originally held on land opposite Well Walk, by The Pryors and on a long lost site by South End Green.
In the 1960s, the two sites for Hampstead fair were on ground by the Leg Of Mutton Pond, then leased from the old London County Council and the Vale Of Health Fair, owned by the Grays.
The Grays live in a caravan, by the Vale of Health Pond on the piece of ground that housed and still houses fairground equipment.
In the 1960s, there was a public house, owned by The Grays, which was the only 'free house' in Hampstead.
Frederik Gray, son of a shipbuilder, worked as a boy for the then famous Hancock's Show, where he met his future wife and together bought The Hampstead Fair.
Frederik lived to the ripe old age of 94!
The Fair equipment was moved from its winter storage at Fair time.
The Hampstead fair employed about twenty regular men, with the addition of unskilled temporary workers and five regular men who painted and maintained the roundabouts, etc.
Many of the men laid off continue to live at The Vale Of Health to this day and work locally.
In the 1960s, the fair opened on Hampstead Heath at Easter and Whitsun.
There was then the Pinner Fair, Mitcham Fair, following the August Heath Fair, and the Barnet Fair.
It was historically true that a real fair only consisted of shows and roundabouts.
The hoop-la and other stalls were on sub-leases to the Hampstead Fair.
The very first moving picture in Hampstead was shown by Fred Gray.
It was a hand-wound Gaumont Pathe, with pictures of local subjects and proved an enormous attraction. (see Hampstead Heath Old Film page)
The most popular amusements at this time were the roundabouts, the shooting galleries and the bingo stalls.