For 2016 the Alresford Fair took over Alresford Broad Street from Wednesday 2pm till Thursday after midnight, in one week in October. The massive constructions and large vehicles involved for Fairs these days mean that this timescale is needed, and the road needs to be clear of parked vehicles, so the trailers can be manoeuvred into position on the Wednesday afternoon. This was helped enormously by the Traffic Wardens from Winchester, who were present to add weight to the “No Parking” restriction granted from the Wednesday.
By Thursday morning the road width was significantly restricted, offering a single lane with small passing places. The Fair stalls are large, and they do take up lots of space! The conditions can be seen in the picture above. So it was quite fun to see two watercress lorries heading down Broad Street, meeting two others coming up Broad Street, and trying to cross in the middle of the Fair. It made for a small delay of about 15 minutes in any traffic passing through around 0900. The salads lorry drivers had been told to avoid Broad Street, by their bosses in Alresford Salads: they were advised to take the alternative route – but of course they ignored this. The chaos continued all morning, and whilst simple “Stop/Go” boards would have helped regulate the traffic flow along the single lane section, they were not allowed. And from later experience they would probably have been ignored by frustrated car drivers.
There were plenty of barriers and indications that Broad Street was not one where you would want to go, and many people sensibly opted out. So it was remarkable how many vehicles looking for a quick snack purchase at Tesco spent half an hour going down to the bottom and then turned round to come back! Then there was one notable young lady who refused to accept that she could not park her car in Broad Street, outside Tesco, on the grounds that it was her town! You would have thought she would therefore know that the Fair comes here every October.
The road was closed from 1300. There were people who argued about the odd two minutes showing on their car clock, but it was blocked by Fairground equipment anyway. One charming executive trying to get to Old Alresford Place said his limousine was too big and too smart to go down the diversion round Drove Lane, but we pointed out that various builders lorries and brick transporters had already been diverted down there. He was not very pleasant, but hopefully he did not get brick dust on his car.
Here’s a selection of photos from the Thursday morning, showing the problems experienced by some people, and the Fairground stands.