Established Rights

Seasonal No
Fixture Permanent
Physical Scale Small
Experiential Scale Large
Geographical Scale Local

SGGB ‘Rules’ concerning ‘Established Rights of Tenure at a Fair’ set out that with 2 years’ occupation of a particular pitch, rights are assured, and transferable on death to another family member, or can be transferred—at a cost—to another showman.

Is it not clear when Showmen began to accrued rights to their particular pitch. The SGGB history dates from late C19, emerging from the United Kingdom Showmen and Van Dwellers’ Protection Association (The Showmen’s Guild) (founded 1890), and The British Roundabout Proprietors’ and Showmen’s Union, a related Union active in the early years of the C20th. The ‘Rules’ of the SGGB only date from 1902 or thereabouts, but the establishment of rights at Ilkeston, for example, did not settle down until much later in the twentieth century, as the Council continued to exercise more power in the planning process than did the Showmen.

While these SGGB Rules might grant rights of tenure, they don’t control what happens to the town’s physical infrastructure, and sometimes the material installation or the relationship between rides and their surroundings encounters an obstacle as a result of unexpected changes that are made. There are plenty of amusing anomalies, such as the general conflict between large rides and the prohibition on any cutting of trees at Oxford St. Giles, or examples Loughborough dodgems built around a lamppost in the 1950s, or the removal of a lamppost and signage on Ilkeston East St. Car Park this year to fit larger ride.

These ‘Rules’ are set out in the SGGB Yearbook, a confidential document only available to members of the SGGB. While these rules govern the majority of Showmen in the UK, the status of the rules does not equate to any legal authority. If the local council, the owner of the fair according to the charter, were to ignore the Established Rights of Tenure at a fair, what would happen? The local or national chapter of the SGGB could call the fair ‘out of order,’ but this could open the door for independent ride owners.