I was disappointed to read Peter Noble’s long polemic on why the Marlborough Mop should be moved out of the High Street.
It has always been known that the fairs are in the High Street because the Borough Charters set them up. Traditions evolve and it is no surprise to anyone that the nature of the fairs have changed over the 800 years since the Borough was founded in 1204.
In their most recent form they were “hiring fairs” (probably since the late 18th century) where farmers/agricultural workers, wealthy houses/domestic workers came for employment for the coming season. Entertainment was laid on to attract the crowds and eventually the entertainment is all that survived.
Most Marlburians are happy with this situation. Our local authorities over the years (Borough, District, County & Town) have reflected this opinion and have therefore embraced the status quo.
A minority of High Street traders have always wanted the fair out, so that they can trade for the full 365 days a year, instead of 361 days.
During the Mop Fairs the High Street is returned to the people for a couple of weekends and we in the town centre are spared the dozens of lorries and hundreds of cars that otherwise pass through daily, pumping out their exhaust fumes.
Whilst some newcomers object to the Mops in the High Street, many children and young people find them magical.
I think we should keep this popular tradition of which I have a personal memory going back over seventy years.