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The Spa Fields Fair, Shotley Bridge and the fatal accident involving a char-a-banc c.1902

Spa Fields Fair and the Char-a-banc

1902

Every year there was a fair down at the Spa Fields by the river

The Spa was noted for its waters which came out of the rocks by the swings; it was icy cold. The bath house and saloon still remain.

I remembered a Char-a-banc coming down from Blackhill to Shotley Bridge Spa grounds that crashed. That was on 26th August 1911. Those killed belonged to the Consett Co-Operative Choir. There was a couple that died a John Joseph Person and his fiancée Ettie Stokoe. I held her hand while we waited for the Doctor. It was shortly after my 15th birthday. There were many I say die after that, but she was the first. A lovely woman. Full of ideas and hopes. There were a lot that missed out.

Every year there was this fair and the Choir had come down for that

There was a Toll Gate. You paid once and there were swings attached to these huge trees with heavy steel bars and hooks and roundabouts and a Flower Show. Carriages carrying twenty people would come in from Newcastle. I won a First Prize for a handwriting competition and for my drawings. I did one of a Roman Soldier and another of a tulip.

I remember in 1902 going down to the Spa where they had a huge fire to celebrate the Relief of Mafeking. My father used to get a magazine, ‘The Black and White Budget’ on the Boer War.

The fair in Shotley Park was stopped eventually by a Quaker family who owned the land.

He was a banker, this Jonathan Richardson, a Quaker Banker. That was a rum deal. One of his sons refused to fight in the Great War. He stayed out until conscription came in then refused. He lived by his bible, he said and obeyed the Fifth Commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.’ They had him shipped out to France all the same and put under military command; they might have been shot for that, but Parliament stepped in and gave them hard labour.

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