Recap updates as large crowd turned up for 'cancelled' Wickham Horse Fair

Large crowds gathered in Wickham despite the cancellation of the annual horse fair.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 2:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 2:53 pm

Wickham Horse Fair has been officially cancelled this year due to ‘current Covid restrictions’.

However despite the cancellation a number of people and horse boxes turned up in Wickham this morning.

ROMANSE tweeted earlier: ‘Bridge Street & The Square from A334 Winchester Rd is CLOSED in BOTH DIRECTIONS due to crowd control.’

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Crowds of travellers defied police today by turning up for an historic horse fair which had been cancelled. Picture: Roger Arbon/Solent News & Photo Agency - UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

The road has now reopened, according to our reporter at the scene.

Read More

Read More
Police incident along the A32 closes road in both directions

Pictures from Wickham this morning show large crowds and a number of horses in the village.

There was a strong police presence with 30 officers and dozens of vehicles in the area.

Police officers in Wickham

We had a reporter down at the scene and they brought you all the updates throughout the morning and the afternoon.

Recap all our updates in our blog below.

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for 27p a day.

Crowds in Wickham

Recap updates from Wickham Horse Fair

Last updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2021, 11:14

  • Wickham Horse Fair had been cancelled due to Covid restrictions
  • Large crowds turned up including a number of horses

Welcome to our live blog

We will be bringing you the latest updates from throughout the day.

Strong police presence in Wickham

Richard Lemmer at the scene has reported that there is a strong police presence in Wickham this morning with more than 30 police officers and dozens of vehicles in the area as a large crowd gathers to hold the annual Wickham Horse Fair.

Earlier traffic news

Hampshire pubs close their doors as procession arrives for cancelled Wickham Horse Fair

Pub landlords closed their doors – even though Wickham horse fair has been cancelled.

The Hampshire Bowman in Bishop’s Waltham is one of the pubs that closed, following ‘intelligence from other pubs and police’.

In a message seen by The News, organisers of the fair have said that while there is no funfair or stalls, a few people have taken horses down today regardless.

The Wickham in Hampshire page on Facebook said: ‘There will be a token appearance by one or two horses together with a small stall to maintain the tradition.

‘Wickham Square will be open for car parking as usual.

Attendee claims ‘the police are ‘going to cause an accident for themselves’’

Hannah, who preferred not to give her surname, said the police are ‘going to cause an accident for themselves’ by not allowing the traders to parade their horses along the road by the Square, as is done traditionally.

The Portsmouth resident said: ‘If there was more space it would be safer.

‘They has an inkling this was going to happen and they should have taken more precautions.’

Hannah had come to the fair five years running prior to last year’s cancellation, and has two horses she has bought from previous fairs.

‘It’s unfair that Wickham Horse Fair was cancelled’

Natalie, who lives in Southampton and is part of the Traveller community, said it was important to bring two of her young children to the fair as it is part of their heritage. But she said the community still faces ‘unfair discrimination’.

She said: ‘People don’t mind their tills are ringing from all the people who come to the fair.

‘You can go to a fun fair, you had Stowe Fair go ahead, but this is cancelled. We’re out in the open - It’s unfair.’

Horses have become ‘jittery’

Latest from Richard Lemmer at the scene.

Several horses have become jittery being contained in the small lay-by next to the Fareham Road. The horse fair traditionally sees horses paraded up and down the road, with more space for them to move about.

Statement from police

A Hampshire Constabulary spokeswoman said: ‘The Wickham Horse Fair was cancelled earlier this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

‘Together with our partners we are facilitating a symbolic event that can be safely managed within the space available, and in accordance with the current Health Protection Regulations.

‘We are aware that a number of people, along with vehicles and horses, have arrived outside of the pre-arranged symbolic event. Our officers are on scene and working with our partners to manage this.’

Wickham resident has never had ‘any trouble’ from the fair

Wickham resident Sarah Chamber has lived in the area since 2014 and says she has never had ‘any trouble’ caused by the fair, with her and her husband often bringing down their two young children to see the horses.

The 34-year-old said: ‘You have to respect the tradition. It could have gone ahead - we just needed more notice about any road closures. Normally we just plan to park elsewhere. But there is a mixture of views among people in the area.’

In previous years, the car park in the centre of Wickham Fair sees funfair rides and food stalls set up for fair attendees.

In 2019, attraction owners said they were concerned that the fair’s numbers were dwindling and they had chosen to bring fewer rides and stalls in recent years.

This year sees almost a dozen horse boxes in the car park, which remains open.

Video captures scale of police response to 'symbolic' Wickham Horse Fair gathering

Screen grab from the video.

A video shows the scale of the police presence in Wickham this morning.

The annual horse fair has been cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

However a large crowd and a number of horses have turned up in the village today.

A video recorded in Wickham shows a number of police officers at the scene.

Regular attendee feels police are containing them ‘out of spite’

Portsmouth resident Cindy Comben has been coming to the fair ‘since she was born’ sixty years ago.

She said it felt like the police were containing the attendees ‘out of spite’ because many here are from the Traveller community.

She said: ‘Everyone gets tarred with the same brush. What the police are doing is wrong. If an accident happens, it’s down to the council and the police.’

Cindy Comben

Page 1 of 3