Showmen race to set up King’s Lynn Mart before gales hit Norfolk

A view of the The Mart in King's Lynn, taken from the Maze Media offices. Picture: Ian Burt

A view of the The Mart in King's Lynn, taken from the Maze Media offices. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Showmen fear the continued bad weather will affect the success of this years Mart, as they set up their rides and side shows in King's Lynn today.

The Mart arrived in town last night and showmen and women set to work to set the fair up before the high winds and rain which have been forecast to arrive this afternoon.

The arrival of the Mart in the town marks the first event in the showmen's year, which sees families travel the length and breadth of the country from Lynn.

Lawrence Appleton Sr, of Loke Road, has worked on the Mart all his life.

He said: 'Were hoping it is going to be a good year but the weather plays a part.

'It used to be years ago, every year it would snow when the Mart arrived, which used to actually attract people, but now not so much with when it is windy and wet.'

Son Lawrence Appleton Jr, 52, agreed that the weather influences the Mart.

Most Read

'With all this flooding it may be a struggle,' he shrugged.

Mr Appleton Jr is remains optimistic of the Mart's future in King's Lynn as the area seems to have escaped the worst of both the weather and the recession.

He said: 'We are also seeing industry grow at the moment and people are working. We should be alright.'

Five generations of the Appleton family have worked on the Mart and they say they still enjoy it. 'It's all we know,' said Mr Appleton Sr.

As rides begin to arrive on the Tuesday Market Place, the fair's chief steward said it would be business as usual despite a major refurbishment which has seen parts of the square paved ready for cafe seating.

Donald Gray, the Mart's chief steward, said the refurbishment of the square, which has seen areas paved ready for outdoor seating, would not affect the fair.

'Everything will fit in exactly,' he said. 'I have got to compliment the council, they have done a great job on the market place.'

Stewards will be patrolling the streets around the fair as part of safety measures put in place after a toddler died near the fair two years ago.

Rio Bell, aged two, was hit by a car at the junction between the market place and King Street.

The council said talks were still in progress for next year's Mart - meaning a move to another site has not been ruled out.

This year's event will be officially opened on Friday, with the traditional proclamation before the mayors of neighbouring boroughs and other dignitaries take to the dodgems. Children's Day, when rides are half price, will be on Monday, February 17.