Marsden Cattle Fair

Fair memories at Marsden

Colne Valley Guardian 28:9:73

"How many Marsden men recall 'copping-on' to their bride-to-be at the Marsden Cattle Fair? And how many women remember being "chucked-off" by their boyfriends at the same fair later in the year?

Seventeen years ago this week, the last Marsden Cattle Fair was held in the village, as it had been three times a year since at least the beginning of the nineteenth century. The fair was held on April 25, July 10 and September 25, and although in its latter days, it was a modest affair, in the beginning, it was an excuse for all the village to turn out and have a good time.

Marsden Cattle Fair

Marsden Cattle Fair

A Royal Charter permitted the farmers of the area to bring their beasts into the village streets and bargain for them. Cattle sheep and pigs were all to be seen in the streets, although after 1900 only the cattle were brought down. The farmers left their animals at the New Inn, all down Peel Street, in Brougham Road, on the Bridge outside the Swan Inn and in Derby Terrace, and sometimes even up in the Park.

After the business of the livestock had been sorted out everyone would go to the 'Pot Fair' in Towngate, where pots and oilcloth would be sold until midnight.

The fair in September was also known as the 'coppin-on Fair,' for that is when the men of Marsden would begin their courting. They would stick with their girl until the April Fair came, heralding the better weather, and known as the 'chucking-off Fair.'

The Cattle Fair finished in 1956 because that was when tuberculosis testing of milk became compulsory and severely reduced local trade. However, for several years afterwards, local farmers would meet for a drink to keep up tradition, although this too died out. But the Charter allowing beasts in the street has never been repealed and therefore it is permissible for local farmers to trade in Marsden on Fair Day - or, if they wish, to 'cop-on' to a girl!"

Marsden Fair Day

The Huddersfield Weekly Examiner for 1901 27.4.1901

"The spring fair of Marsden was held on Thursday in superb weather. This was the briskest fair that has been held here for almost a dozen years. Buyers were numerous and the sellers had very little difficulty in disposing of what they had to sell.

The cattle and pigs were very numerous and of good quality all round. Marsden presented an animated scene the whole day and stalls were pitched at all convenient points and served as a ready means for the children to dispose of their spare cash.

In the evening the Towngate was thronged with a seething mass of humanity intent on seeing and being seen and buying crockery to replace recent smashes. This famous thoroughfare was a busy place until midnight after which the fun gradually dwindled and on the following day Marsden had assumed its ordinary aspect."