The excitement in Ludlow cannot be missed on an evening night this. This is not just a warm late April evening when people stroll the streets and take time to chat. It’s the night the May Fair arrives. Getting the fair rides into town is a major feat and scores of people gather around the Buttercross to watch the trucks squeeze into town.
The biggest crowds of watchers are for the huge “Oxygen” truck, which has to negotiate the chicane between Bodenhams store and the Buttercross.
The driver must avoid knocking the portico of the Grade I listed market off its stilts. He has to ensure he does not clip the genteel upper stories of the Grade II* listed Bodenhams, which hang lazily outwards over King Street. This means the driver must reverse back onto the pavement outside Barclays and shuffle back and forth a few feet at a time.
The driver gets a resounding cheer from the crowd when after more than twenty minutes, he pulls his trailer through the gap with the historic buildings of Ludlow unscathed.
The May Fair attracts controversy. It seems bigger and noisier every year. That’s a problem for our historic streets and for some residents of the town centre. Several find it hard to access their properties during the fair. At times, the fair has attracted antisocial behaviour, though it’s mostly great fun.
The May Fair is as much a part of the character of Ludlow as its historic buildings. Moving it out of town, as some have suggested in the past, would destroy its character and the buzz it gives to the town.
I do wonder if the biggest rides should be brought into the Market Square and Mill Street via Brand and Bell Lane, rather risking damage to the Buttercross and Bodenhams.