hi The 1912 Fancy Fair

Fundraising in 1912 - The Fancy Fair

Despite having a home in one of the leafiest suburbs in Edinburgh, Carlton Cricket Club has always led something of a hand to mouth financial existence. Back in 1912, the £100 raised by inviting WG Grace to come to Edinburgh 30 years earlier had long been spent and the club decided to mark their 50th anniversary with an event that would “raise Funds to improve the Ground and carry on the Club in such a way as its reputation deserves”.

In holding the splendidly named Grand Fancy Fair and Carnival the club was looking to repeat the success of its first Fancy Fair and Carnival in 1904. At that point Carlton had just taken over the use of ‘Grange Park’ (our current ground) and the event was a success to the extent that “sufficient money was raised to build a Pavilion and lay out the ground for cricket”.

The 1912 fair was held over three days in June and was on a scale that seems remarkable to modern eyes. Thankfully a programme has survived for the event and it makes for fascinating reading.

The band of the Black Watch played at Grange Loan (hopefully they didn’t march across the square) and there was a“Musical and Dramatical Pavilion … under the direction of Madame de Grenier”.

A range of stalls was laid out to entertain the great and good, including a Sweet Stall, a Flower Stall, a Tobacco and Pottery Stall, a Toy Stall and a Photographic Stall. Mini golf and a golf clock were available, while patrons were also entertained by a Palmist, Madame Van Bien, on what was described as “positively her last engagement in Edinburgh before her round the world tour”. Perhaps the Carlton Fair was such a prestigious engagement that Madame Van Bien delayed her world tour and so missed travelling to New York on the SS Titanic just 10 weeks earlier?

The 1912 Grand Fancy fair and Carnival in full flow

With over a hundred years’ worth of hindsight, the adverts in the programme are particularly entertaining. A pair of leather-lined white buckskin cricket boots can be yours for just 10/6 (52.5p) from Baird the Bootmaker. Alternatively, if indoor pursuits are more your style, you can have “hours of real joy and pleasure” by purchasing an autopiano from R W Pentland of Frederick Street.

There’s also a suggestion that the Scottish summer weather hasn’t changed much in a century as Thornton & Co are offering waterproof garments “that are really waterproof”, while McNabs the “renowned” dry cleaners of Slateford offer “special terms to approved clubs for the cleaning of athletic attire”.


By contrast, we can see that the social standing of the Carlton faithful might have fallen somewhat since 1912, with Scots’ Porage Oats – who clearly knew their audience - advertising that their new-fangled method of making porridge in just 5 minutes means that “the maid” can get an extra 30 minutes in bed every day.

So much has changed since that summer weekend in 1912, but we hope that all those volunteers who put so much effort into the large-scale fundraising venture back then would be pleased to see the old club still going strong at Grange Loan well into the 21st century.

See the 1912 Carlton Grand Fancy Fair and Carnival programme


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