Traveller families tell of importance of Blackpool horse fair

Poulton Horse Fair on Garstang Road West.  Jim Smith cooking breakfast.
Poulton Horse Fair on Garstang Road West. Jim Smith cooking breakfast.
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Familes setting up camp on fields near Blackpool for an annual horse fair have spoken about the event.

This is a Gypsy horse fair but really anyone can come along especially if they are interested in horses.”

Youngsters having fun at the horse fair on Garstang Road West

Youngsters having fun at the horse fair on Garstang Road West

Jim Smith had one eye on the weather as he stood in the field where hundreds of members of the Traveller community were gathering for an annual event near Blackpool.

Jim’s family had pitched up at the site off Garstang Road West in bright sunlight earlier in the week, but now the clouds were blackening and the rain starting to pour.

He said: “It’s a shame about the weather for the weekend but this is an important gathering for us and I am sure we will get many more people coming.

“It is basically a horse fair, one of a few that happen regularly in the year.

Lorna Fielding looks at one of the horses.

Lorna Fielding looks at one of the horses.

“Everyone knows about the Appleby Horse Fair and people come from all over the world for that, but this one is important too.

“It’s part of our tradition. Nowadays people have caravans and 4x4s but they still love the horses like they did when they pulled the caravans.

“So this is about the horses, the carts and anything to do with horses so anyone can come along.”

He said the families all had an interest is the animals and there would be great interest in the many Welsh cobs, trotters and ponies which were tethered around the site.

John Smith with Sentilena Smith.

John Smith with Sentilena Smith.

David Edwards had brought his pony cart along for the weekend but was not sure how much chance of riding out he would get with the rain and wind coming in.

He said: “We could do with a little bit of Irish luck with the rain.

“I love the horses and it is good to see so many people getting together with theirs.”

John Hull said he had come from the Midlands to see relatives in the Blackpool area.

He said he understood that some people might be wary of hundreds of travellers in the area but he said no-one wanted to cause any problems.

Last year complaints were made about people riding horses and buggies in a dangerous way along nearby roads.

And Wyre Council and the police have spoken to organisers to urge a responsible attitude when using horses on the roads.

Numerous signs had been put up at the gates giving advice and highways laws to the Travellers about riding out from the camp area.

He said: “This is an important tradition for Travellers.

“We have family who live in the Blackpool area pretty much all year round and it is a chance to see them.

“The horse fairs allow families to get together who may have not seen each other for a long time so no-one wants any problems”

“Many people in Blackpool have a Traveller or showman background and things like this have been going on for years.”

Wyre Council has published a route for the Travellers to drive out on Sunday from 10.45am and police have warned drivers about the event.

The horses will head west from the camp towards Blackpool before turning south past Mereside and the motorway through Peel and Higher Ballam to Lytham.

From there it will head via Saltcotes to Wrea Green to Great Plumpton Weeton and back to the camp.