15th-17th July - Glasgow Fair

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15th-17th July - Glasgow Fair

Glasgow Fair was established in the 1190s by a charter of King William the Lion which gave Glasgow the right to hold an annual eight day fair in July. 

The medieval custom was to fix the date of a fair to a saint’s feast day or religious festival and Glasgow’s charter stipulated that the fair would take place eight days after the feast of St Peter and St Paul, i.e. from 7 July.  In 1744 the date was changed from the fixed day of 7 July to the first Monday in July to avoid the interruption of the Sabbath.  With the calendar change in 1752, the fair began on the second Monday in July. Recently the Saturday before the 3rd Monday in July has been designated Fair Saturday. 

The fair was originally held within the boundaries the Cathedral and from the 1800s, it took place on Glasgow Green and along Stockwell Street. In earlier times, it focussed on trade and people came from a wide area to buy and sell at the markets. In the modern era, the fair became known for its amusements and latterly became Glasgow’s holiday fortnight.

18th century transcript of the charter by King William the Lion granting Glasgow a yearly fair to be held for eight full days after the octaves of the Apostles St Peter and St Paul (7 July).
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View of Glasgow Fair published in the Looking Glass (1825). Taken from the Court House, it shows large crowds thronging the streets and the many attractions include a circus, a theatre and a number of "penny geggies" where customers could watch the performances of touring actors and entertainers for a small entrance fee. There are stalls selling food and drink all along the Saltmarket stalls.
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Report of income raised from the fair in July 1815.  The accounts give clues to the amusements on offer, which include:  circus, tumbling and deceptions (presumably a magic show), Punch’s opera, waxwork dwarfs, wild beasts and what must have been a star attraction a ‘fat pig’.
Poster advertising the appearance at Saltmarket of Monsieur Chabard a ‘Phenomenon of Nature, and a skilful performer of unequal experiments in Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and Pyrotechnics’.

Paddle steamers at the Broomielaw, 1900.
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