Old and new mingle at annual Appleby Horse Fair

The Northern Echo: Stephen Hash (L) and his friend 'Footie' have been coming to Appleby Horse Fair for more than 50 years Stephen Hash (L) and his friend 'Footie' have been coming to Appleby Horse Fair for more than 50 years

PICTURE the scene - a group of young women are stood in front of a bow top gypsy caravan, brightly coloured with gold embellishment, the horse drawn vehicle symbolises hundreds of years of traveller tradition.

Nearby, horses are being paraded through the streets, while their owners negotiate the best price.

It is a scene that has unfolded at Appleby since the 17th century, with thousands of travellers from across the UK, including many from the North-East, gathering in the picturesque Cumbrian town for the annual horse fair.

Yet the women, dressed in skimpy florescent clothing, high heels and, I suspect, numerous coats of fake tan, look like they are heading for a night out in Ibiza.

When I walked past them on Saturday, sporting jeans, boots and a sensible pink cagoule, I felt like a party-goer who failed to check the dress code on my invite.

And, if I needed further convincing that my nostalgic preconceptions were slightly misinformed, one of them quipped “Does anyone have 3G?”

Welcome to Appleby Horse Fair where new and old can be found in equal measure. For every rustic horse and trap that passes, a plush Range Rover is not far behind.

At Fair Hill, named after the traditional festival, stalls sell everything from equestrian wear, saddles and trinkets, to elaborate wedding cakes.

The previous day, the fair was basked in sunshine and the horses were ridden into the River Eden for a wash. It is a sight that is synonymous with Appleby Horse Fair – the largest gathering of the gypsy and traveller community in the country.

It has not been without its problems and, this year, pubs and off licences restricted their opening hours to help kerb anti-social behaviour. There have also been complaints about animal cruelty and the rubbish left by travellers, at Appleby and in the towns and villages they reside en-route.

At Startforth Park, on the outskirts of Barnard Castle, intimidated residents protested when travellers set up camp on land belonging to Deerbolt Young Offender’s Institute at the end of May.

A barrier and security staff are now in place to prevent a repeat of this when the fair concludes on Wednesday, June 11,

However, seasoned Appleby attendee Stephen Hash, from the south coast, believes it is unfair to tar all travellers with the same brush.

“It is like football,” said Mr Hash.

“You get some bad apples who spoil it for everyone else. I have been coming here since I was a kid. It is all about the horses for us, as well as being a chance to catch up with friends.

“It has changed a lot over the years though. It is too commercial now but it is and always has been a family event.”

Comments (6)

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8:41pm Sun 8 Jun 14

stephen68 says...

It looks like the bad apples have turned up at Springfield Park in Darlington. It will be interesting to see how much mess is left when they finally leave
It looks like the bad apples have turned up at Springfield Park in Darlington. It will be interesting to see how much mess is left when they finally leave stephen68
  • Score: 15

8:51pm Sun 8 Jun 14

NO EINSTEIN says...

Good old Appleby Horse Fair,
In Northallerton and surrounding villages last week, farm thefts were at an all time high.
In Welbury, local trade’s people were stolen from, and in Northallerton by Sam Turner's there was a pile of rubbish and general cr--p left all over.
Needless to say it’s gone all gone quiet now, but we have their return to look forward too, when they go back to their unturned stone.
Not that I’m saying it’s these travelling S--m, it must be someone else with the same low life way of living, abusing their good name.
Good old Appleby Horse Fair, In Northallerton and surrounding villages last week, farm thefts were at an all time high. In Welbury, local trade’s people were stolen from, and in Northallerton by Sam Turner's there was a pile of rubbish and general cr--p left all over. Needless to say it’s gone all gone quiet now, but we have their return to look forward too, when they go back to their unturned stone. Not that I’m saying it’s these travelling S--m, it must be someone else with the same low life way of living, abusing their good name. NO EINSTEIN
  • Score: 19

7:50am Mon 9 Jun 14

cupid stunt says...

there are some bad apples, the rest are rotten
there are some bad apples, the rest are rotten cupid stunt
  • Score: 12

7:55am Mon 9 Jun 14

Starteck2002 says...

Surprised the Northern Echo has not even mentioned the 'visitors' we have over Springfield. I thought those big boulders were meant to signify to them that they were not to camp there? Kids won't play in the park or use the football pitch (oh, they can't - there are caravans all over it!) and I notice the dog walkers are taking alternative routes now too. Good to see local amenities that we contribute to are put to good use!
Surprised the Northern Echo has not even mentioned the 'visitors' we have over Springfield. I thought those big boulders were meant to signify to them that they were not to camp there? Kids won't play in the park or use the football pitch (oh, they can't - there are caravans all over it!) and I notice the dog walkers are taking alternative routes now too. Good to see local amenities that we contribute to are put to good use! Starteck2002
  • Score: 15

9:49am Mon 9 Jun 14

Rover13 says...

How pleasent Darlington has been this weekend with the morons away.
How pleasent Darlington has been this weekend with the morons away. Rover13
  • Score: 11

6:31pm Mon 9 Jun 14

think twice says...

Rover13 says...

How pleasent Darlington has been this weekend with the morons away.


Oh dear, you spoke too soon!
Rover13 says... How pleasent Darlington has been this weekend with the morons away. Oh dear, you spoke too soon! think twice
  • Score: 6

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