From the Mitcham & Tooting Advertiser, 7th April, 1955
THE SHOWMEN ARE ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Harry Gray’s fair leaves winter H.Q. at Mitcham
MITCHAM show-king, 74 year old Harry Gray, whose fair began its annual tour on Monday, after months of patient preparation, is hoping for a hot, dry summer. Last year’s tour was badly affected by wet weather.
For the last 50 years the fair has spent the winter months in quarters near Mitcham Baths.
Every September, after a long summer programme, the mobile playground returns to its Mitcham home for five months’ rest. Throughout winter, the showmen overhaul their expensive equipment and repaint everything. In addition they talk over future plans and examine suggestions for additions to the fair.
Harry Gray is a tough and efficient boss, despite his age. A showman all his life — he was born while his parents were on a tour — he comes from a family which for generations has belonged to the amusement world.
Since taking over the present fair, Mr. Gray has experienced many difficulties. One of these is the competition from television and the cinema. Expenses are heavy and every year costs increase.
Nevertheless, this year’s tour is ambitious and includes visits to Hampstead Heath and Newbury races. Other places included are Clapham Common, Tooting Bec Common, Victoria Park and the famous Mitcham Fair in August.
On Monday the fair left Mitcham for its first port of call—Hampstead Heath. Trucks and trailers swung out on to the London Road early in the morning. The trucks, many of them of over 15 tons in weight, drove in convoy with a noise like muffled thunder.
To carry the many tons of equipment the lorries have to be kept in perfect running order and must be driven with care and skill. The Gray fair has the proud record of never having been involved in any road accident.
When the convoy reached Hampstead Heath, about 50 men swarmed over the lorries and within a few hours the Gray Fair was erected and ready to receive its first customers.