Historic horse event rolls into Brigg again

Brigg Horse Fair EMN-140808-080256001
Brigg Horse Fair EMN-140808-080256001

The annual event that gave the North Lincolnshire town of Brigg its place in the annals of the world’s music history took place last week.

August 5 is the historic date of Brigg Horse Fair and, as every year, traders made their way to the town.

The scene in Station Road at Brigg Horse Fair. EMN-140808-094238001

The scene in Station Road at Brigg Horse Fair. EMN-140808-094238001

It was, of course, the event about which Joseph Taylor of Saxby all Saints wrote the folk song Brigg Fair heard by Australian composer Percy Grainger at the North Lincolnshire Music and Drama Festival.

Composer Delius then adapted the lilting melody for his famous rhapsody Brigg Fair - and the rest, as they say, is history!

This year’s fair attracted hundreds to Station Road, while those in town were treated to horses being driven down the main streets.

The annual event is often associated with the travelling community and many came to stay locally well ahead of the event.

But there were mixed feelings from locals and visitors alike about the historic celebration.

Former Brigg man Denis Laycock makes an annual pilgrimage to Brigg from his home at Parwick in Derbyshire every year to view the fair and also takes the chance to go to Taylor’s grave at Saxby.

He enjoyed his visit.

“The fair was excellent this year,” he said.

“There were more horses than in the past and some real old characters there.

“It looks like the event is alive and well - I have enjoyed it.”

A member of the travelling community visiting the fair from the Hull area did not wish to be named, but also spoke favourably.

“There are more horses here this year, as last year the date clashed with a fair in Pickering and the numbers were down in Brigg.”

And two of Brigg’s town councillors also had mixed feelings about the event:

Coun Penny Smith, speaking from Station Road, said: “There is a great atmosphere this year and a good crowd.

“There has always been trotting up the streets, perhaps not so much this year.

“It’s a part of Brigg’s history, but I have some concerns about the animals.

“I saw some puppies in a cage; I did not like that.”

And Coun Mike Campion shared her concerns.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” he said.

“I can understand the tradition and why people value the event.

“Its animal welfare and the treatment of the horses that concerns me.”

There was a significantly increased police presence in the town and stewards in the Station Road area as North Lincolnshire Council made sure the event passed off peacefully.

Horses have been traded at Brigg for hundreds of years and with the granting of a Market Charter in 1204 an annual event around August 5 has been taking place with festivities, markets and the trading of horses.

A charity market was run in the 1990s by Freeman of Brigg Tom Glossop and his organising committee and alongside the horse fair, attracted visitors to Brigg in their thousands.

While the stall side of the fair has died off, the historic heritage of horse trading and trotting through the town continues.

And Tom Glossop, who is widely regarded as the authority on Brigg Fair, will be giving a talk on the event at the 
Buttercross in Brigg on Wednesday, August 20 at 2pm.

Admission is £3.