Every year Sedgemoor District Council hosts a historic outdoor travelling funfair and market near the centre of Bridgwater, Somerset. The funfair on St Matthews Field, TA6 7HD is organised by the Showman's Guild with Sedgemoor District Council organising the market elements of the event. Bridgwater Fair attracts crowds from far a field and is recognised as the largest fair in the South West with roughly 40,000 visitors each year.
This annual event, which dates back to the Charter of King John, is now almost 800 years old, the last 600 years of which have been spent on St Matthews Field. The Charter decreed that the four day fair was to start annually on the last Wednesday in September.
- 2016's Bridgwater Fair will start on Wednesday 28th September and ends on Saturday 1st October.
Opening and closing times for the fun fair are usually:
- 11:00am to 11:00pm Wednesday;
- 1:00pm to 11:00pm on Thursday;
- 1:00pm to 11:30pm on Friday and
- 11:00am to 11:30pm on Saturday.
The West Street market usually opens:
- 10:00am to 10:00pm Wednesday;
- 10:00am to 10:00pm on Thursday;
- 10:00am to 10:00pm on Friday and
- 10:00am to 10:00pm on Saturday.
Following tradition, the Fair will be officially opened on 'Fair Wednesday' at 11:30am by Sedgemoor District Council's Chairman and the Mayor of Bridgwater.
Road closures and prohibition of on-street parking:
Detailed road closure information is displayed in the notice section of the Bridgwater Mercury at least twice in the run-up to event, usually late August and mid-September.
Road closures usually come into place at 9:00am on the last Tuesday of September (27th September 2016) and are lifted the following Sunday after Fair (2nd October 2016) at 10:00am. West Street, Milton Place, St Matthews Green, Westover Green and St Matthews Field are affected by road closures. Diversion routes will be in place.
Prohibition of parking (and traffic coning) will be in place along many surrounding streets including Northfield, Durleigh Road (to the junction of Woodbury Road), Park Road and Albert Street from 09:00am on the last Tuesday of September to 10:00am the Sunday after Fair.
2016's road closure and prohibition of parking information will be available to download nearer the event.
As in previous years limited parking will be available Thursday to Saturday of fair week with the Rotary Club of Bridgwater in the Fairfield at a cost of £3 per vehicle.
Additional public parking is usually available at the YMCA in Friarn Avenue and at Bridgwater Cricket Club on Durleigh Road.
A list of Bridgwater pay and display car parks is available for download below.
Please note there are additional car parks within the town centre but these are not operated by Sedgemoor District Council.
West Street and Fairfield Markets:
The markets we know today, with their stalls set-up through West Street, as well as the one-day horse and goods market held at the top of St Matthews Field, are very different to the original fairs of 800 years ago. The West Street market runs from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening. The Fairfield market runs all day on 'Fair Wednesday' (the last Wednesday in September).
Traders from across the UK attend the West Street and Fairfield markets with products ranging from clothing and shoes, rugs and cushions, bulbs and plants, china and pottery, as well as culinary delights such as the famed welsh cakes, brandy snaps, preserves and jams and much more.
Temporary cabin toilets, provided by Sedgemoor District Council, are available behind the Squib Public House next to West Bow House, behind Westfield House on West Street and behind the Horse and Jockey Public House on Fairfield. Portaloos, including disabled accessible toilets, are also provided behind the Horse and Jockey Public House on Fairfield.
First Aid during the event is provided by St Johns Ambulance. This service is situated near Westfield Church on West Street from Wednesday to Saturday of fair week. First Aid provision is funded by Sedgemoor District Council.
Alcohol at the Fair:
Visitors to the Fair should be aware that West Street, St Matthews Field and most of the surrounding area are covered by the Council's Designated Public Places Order (DPPO.) This is an Order designed to tackle nuisance arising from people acting antisocially through drinking excessively in public places. The Order gives the Police and PCSO's the power to confiscate alcohol within the DPPO area. These powers will be vigorously enforced and anybody bringing alcohol into West Street or St Matthews Field especially can expect to be challenged and may be required to surrender their alcohol. Only alcohol in plastic cups purchased from the hatch at the Horse and Jockey and consumed within the vicinity will be permitted.
Market trader information:
There are around 85 stalls for hire in West Street, TA6 3RW as well as a few peripatetic trader permits (mainly for balloon sellers) and roughly 60 stalls available in the Fairfield,TA6 7HD. West Street traders agree to trade for the full four days of the fair with Fairfield traders trading for Fair Wednesday only.
West Street stalls range from 10 to 55 foot frontage; all are roughly a standard depth.
Fairfield pitches range from 15 to 75 foot frontage, with the majority of stalls being 20-30 foot frontage, with a depth of 20 foot.
Most pitches are allocated to regular traders who have attended the event for many years; we do however welcome applications from new traders.
Electricity supply to pitches:
Generators are available for hire to West Street traders, two wattages of generator are available to traders (if pre-booked): one standard and one for heavy-use traders (mainly food stalls). PAT testing of trader equipment can also be arranged for a small fee (usually £3-5 per item) directly with our electrical contractor. Generator hire should be requested at the time of pitch application.
2016 scale of charges for market pitch hire and generator usage:
The scale will be uploaded once the 2016 charges are agreed.
Pitch allocation timetable and payment:
Application forms for pitches are usually sent to our applicant mailing lists in April and May. For a pitch application to be considered completed application forms have to be received by the deadline detailed within the accompanying letter (this is usually in June). Pitches are allocated in late June/early July with traders then being notified if they have been successful.
All traders must pay for their pitch in advance of the event, the payment deadline is clearly detailed in letters offering traders a pitch. Payment can be made by cheque or debit/credit card. Cash is not accepted for payment during the event. If payment has not been received in advance of the event Sedgemoor District Council may reallocate your pitch.
Would you like to hire a market pitch? Or find out more about the event?
For further information in relation to Bridgwater Fair, to be added to our trader mailing list or to express an interest in applying for a pitch please contact the Community Development and Wellbeing team on the below details.