Hailstorms and cloudbursts aside, it was a good weekend for getting out and about in London’s glorious south east. One of the quirkiest events was on my door step – the revived Horn Fair parade from Rotherhithe to Charlton. The fair itself (or Horn Fayre, as Greenwich Council insists on calling it now, despite it being held on Hornfair Road) is a modern-day successor to the traditional Horn Fair, banned by the Victorians for being too boozy and saluburious. These days it’s a much more sedate village fete, although the closeness of the beer tent to a set of stocks hints at a livier history. That said, it’s a fine way of passing an afternoon, and seeing dogs jump through flaming hoops just never gets boring. It was the first time I’d made it up there, despite living on its doorstep for nearly a decade. It’s one of those events that’s quite easy to miss.
But one aspect of the festival that hadn’t been revived until now was a parade from Cuckold’s Point, Rotherhithe to Charlton, which, in its day, took hundreds of revellers from the Thames and up to Charlton. But it has been revived by a group called Rediscovered Urban Rituals, which has also given new life to the Deptford Jack In The Green festival. So, yesterday morning, the parade kicked off by the Hilton hotel on the Rotherhithe peninsula, and moved through Deptford, stopping for lunch at the Dog and Bell, and paraded through Greenwich before coming up the hill to Charlton Park. They certainly caused a stir, and definitely breathed a bit of a life into the event; reconnecting the event with its neighbouring communities as well as its past, even if the MC at the event didn’t quite know what to make of it.
The Horn Fair was also used by Greenwich Council as one of its showcases for what it does, and also as one of its substitutes for actually talking to people; a smattering of local councillors (only one out of the three Charlton councillors showed, the same for neighbouring Kidbrooke with Hornfair) and other council types dotted around to talk about issues/ take the flak.
It also saw the return of the famous “speak your brains” board; where residents can put up suggestions so they can be roundly ignored. Among the pleas for more street cleaning, sorting out rubbish collection and better policing included “more police on Hallowe’en night,” “gay pride”, “CCTV to help teenagers’ anti-social behaviour” in Kidbrooke, and the statement that “terrorising the police” was the way forward. Wonderful work.