Leisure and Entertainment
Huthwaite Prize Band
Symphonic Orchestra
Wakes Fairground Circus
The Gem Picture Palace
Huthwaite Lyric Theatre
Sutton & District Cinema
Huthwaite Free Library
Public Swimming Baths
Amateur Boxing Club
Annual Huthwaite Carnival
Huthwaite Cricket Clubs
Huthwaite Football Clubs
Recreational Parklands
Lawn/Crown Green Bowls
Sutton Harriers Club

A Hucknall History

Huthwaite Entertainment

Wakes Fairgrounds & Circus

Wakes hold broader association with death ending a timely vigil just in case the mourned departed might awaken. But there's no macabre reason why folk here used to get excited about forthcoming Wakes. Alternative origins have evolved from Anglo-Saxon Christianity encouraging festive parish church fairs. Term is mostly kept amongst Midland regions, where many localities enjoyably anticipated visiting travelling fairgrounds annually bringing a holiday mood with familiar booths, rides and circus performances.

Travelling entertainment is noted first coming to Sutton from William Rhodes personal journal dating 1867 Pinders Circus here. Communities readily welcomed those Big Top performers, who'd quickly taken advantage of railway networks. Acts including rare sight of wild and exotic animals brought a useful team of elephants promoting journey plus assisting haulage between sites.


Steam traction engines designed for agricultural work were soon after powering thrilling fairground rides. They became commonly called Steam Rollers having mostly been seen flattening road surfaces suiting modern vehicles. Altogether, it brought the Wakes to Huthwaite Market Place, seen c1910 from what must have been the Wilson's bedroom window. Elders recalled later alternative sites upon the Recreation and Welfare Parks, when a named Lord Kitchener steam traction engine generated sufficient power.

Steam RollerSteam Traction

Youngsters eagerly ran errands for fairground operators during the erecting upon beer crates of rides like Cranky Hosses Carousel, Swing Boat, Cake Walk and Flying Chairs. Their reward was gathering free tickets enabling first rides, even if realising they actually were testing out the equipment. Boxing fans were unsure when fairs last staged Bare Knuckle challenges, but retold postwar tale how some humorous pranksters claimed the cranky horses had been released - all soon found left out grazing Jack Wrights Tops.

Sutton Lammas


Missing chance to sight the worlds fattest women, a bearded lady or ugliest man was no great loss visiting nearest mid 70s staged Sutton Wakes on the Lammas. Winning a bagged gold fish on Hook-a-Duck plus glass ashtray for hitting targets by either shooting pellet rifles or throwing coconuts and darts rewarded schoolboy challenges. Girls particularly liked mystical fortune tellers. Thrilling rides were by far the biggest attraction, remembering fun evenings sweetly smelled of fresh popcorn, candyfloss and toffee apples.


A magnificently presented vintage steam traction engine was usually still at the heart of every good fairground. Background hum of generators fully powering all lit roundabouts, Big Wheel and roller coaster rides had introduced the faster spinning Waltzer. Lammas grounds thereafter featured one major night time attraction that followed thrill seeking trend for wilder bigger holiday resort and theme park adult rides. Fairground side booths were eventually replaced by a Big Top Circus suitably entertaining toddlers.

Lammas Circus

Posters billing Uncle Sam's American Circus annual return to Sutton Lammas ended in 2006. Photographs reliably date final March erection of the Big Top, unaware during passing capture, these represent last sighting without full completion of the latest big ride.

Lammas Circus

Ashfield District Council controversially next sited a Lammas Sports facility, by swiftly dismissing the Duke of Portland c1860 legacy to leave open grounds for public use in perpetuity. Transferring site use to Sutton Lawn presented Ashfield Show extravaganzas.

Lammas Leisure

Seems appropriate here also retelling how past generations remembered some very ornate horse drawn Gypsy caravans keeping camps in Huthwaite. Roving Gypsies peddling wares probably predate the travelling professions of friendlier circus and fairground operators, who claimed no connection except for seeing likewise romantic portrayal of free lifestyles. A few kept returning to push overpriced cloth pegs, washing lines or shoddy ironing board covers door to door. Claiming mystical fortune telling powers worthy of extra silver led to personally hearing 1970s muttered curses aimed at any disinterested buyers. Huthwaite no longer tolerates unlicensed camps, long after realising their motorised mobile homes always caused destructive waves leaving a costly wake.

06 Sep 13     by Gary Elliott       Updated 17 Jun 21