Roger Tuby, son of George Rhodes and Ivy Tuby, brother of Charles and Pauline Tuby, is a true ‘chip off the old block’ and a worthy descendant of ‘Tom’. For just as his great grandfather did before hi, and others have done since.
Roger has built himself a run of airs, carrying the Tuby banner into Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. And Roger will be the first to admit that those skills which proved so useful in farming in the dark years of the war, have been passed onto him so that he, like so many other fairground sons, has a mechanical aptitude which has stood him in good stead. Like her mother in law before her, who as we have seen, met her husband to be in that Lincolnshire hamlet during the war, Roger’s wife Lynne, was a ‘flattie’, a person living in a house rather than a mobile living wagon. But, like her mother in law, she soon took to the life. For, as Lynn relates, it did not take her long to realise what genuine, nice people the fair ground fraternity are. And if anyone wonders how show people like Roger meet girls like Lynn, it is the same story that so many happily married couples can tell. They met at a dance, fell in love and married. But as Lynn will admit, their courtship was rather more difficult than that of a couple living in the same town. It had to be a case of Roger telling her the town they were open at. Lynn would then take a bus there and her husband to be would be waiting at the bus stop. Then, after an enjoyable evening together, she would get a bus back to her home, ready to get another bus to the next town her boy friend was opening at.
Now, married into the Tuby family, with two daughters, Julie Ann and Emma and son, Roger Jnr., Lynn has no regrets. She is part of a fraternity that could teach the rest of the community so much. Each one is a friend of their neighbour. There is always someone there if help is needed.
It is a community which hardly knows divorce. Crime is equally rare among the fairground people. Like the community in general did some years ago, they can go out and leave their front doors open. The children are safe among the fairground fraternity, and while it could be said that some, education difficult, they are brought up to be self reliant, well mannered and hones. They are in charge of the family attractions from an early age and are taught to handle money and become aware of its value. And while it can be acknowledged that they may have to attend different schools in the summer, it is a fact that they receive an education which equips them for the future, which many ordinary children should envy. Their children are also taught at an early age the need for a charitable approach to the world in general. For at all his fairs, there is an afternoon for the underprivileged children and the disabled. And after each fair, he makes a donation to the local mayor’s charity to ensure that the fair becomes an integral part of the local community. Roger and Lynn have their own bungalow and land at Stainforth . Lynn’s parents, Mr and Mrs Tompkin, live in the bungalow and in their case the children were left with their grand parents to attend a local school, going to their parents during the school holidays.
The ability of the fairground child was shown when Roger, at 14 years of age began going round with his father’s dodgems while George Rhodes was building up the mobile home park he now has.
Then Roger and Lynn married and Roger still took the dodgems out for some years. However, with brother Charles beginning to come into the business, Roger decided to do what his grand father had done and h broke away, travelling with his own juvenile, leaving the dodgem to Charles who still operates it today. Then Roger bought a build up arcade from George Storey. And it was now that he appreciated the skill that his father had taught him, just as those same skill had been appreciated by Lincolnshire folk during the war. Roger decided to build it onto an articulated truck. He knew in his mind what he wanted and without visiting any other such arcade, or taking any measurements from an existing arcade he began work in his yard at Stainforth. For three months during the winter thirteen or fourteen years ago, he laboured through most of the daylight hours. He began with an axle in the centre of the yard and some new and some second hand steel. Without any plans Roger began to make the arcade he visualised in his mind. He had two engineering friends who came two nights a week. Roger fabricated the steel work, cutting it out and tacking it up with a welder then they cam in and did the final welding work.
They turned into the yard that winter for a four month stay before the fairground circuit came round. And three months later the arcade was finished, complete with 1,000 running lights and decoration. And not content with this achievement, he also built two juveniles that winter.
Roger began his run of fairs when he found that it was difficult to get onto fairs with an arcade. And when he did there were invariably other arcades there. So, he got into his car and toured Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and parts of Yorkshire looking for suitable sites, but careful that he was not going to stand on anyone’ toes, or in other words try to start a fair in a town which already had one. On two occasions he hired an aircraft from Doncaster airport and flew over specific districts, taking photographs to study later. He has now established a run of fairs taking in Goole, Penistone, Spalding for the Tulip Festival and Parade, with Carlton in Lindrick following, then there is Howarth and Sandwell Park, both a Doncaster. Roger also has a fair at Loft Park, Barnsley, another at Goole and Spalding, Bourne, and Holbeach, but nothing came from the aerial survey. Roger, like his Uncle Arthur Tuby, is a keen member of the Round Table, and he can tell an interesting story of how, through the Spalding Round Table, and against his own better judgement, the Spalding Flower Parade fair came into being.
He was asked by a member of the Spalding Round Table if he could provide amusements for the annual Flower Festival. Although he agreed to help it was with the though that fairs and flowers would not mix. But he has never been so wrong. For now this annual festival which attracts thousands of people from all over the country would not be the same without its Tuby funfair. And glamour is still alive and well, thriving on the fair ground.
For today’s fairground wives are more likely to look as if they have stepped from the set of Dallas rather than come to work on a fairground. Beautifully groomed and stylishly dressed, they successfully combine managing a business with running a home and bringing up a family in a manner which would leave the normal ‘flattie’ gasping. And it has to be remembered that during fairground season, the evenings and afternoons if the fair is open, are spent by the women folk in charge of a family attraction. For the fairground is a true business partnership between husband wife. Lynn will be in the pay box of their arcade and her sister in law, Francis Ann a member of the Gavin show business family, who is married to Charles Tuby and who has the children Kelly Jane and Charles George Tuby, works in the family hot dog kiosk. Here, although Francis Ann was a member of the fairground when she met Charles, her courtship was no easier than Lynn’s because the two families travelled to different fairs. This meant that the couple had to travel long distances to see each other. For women who can drive a lorry with the best of them, run their fairground attractions, keep their living vans spotless and still get their children off to school, the showland wife in a unique individual. Nor is there any doubt that some of these living vans are indeed, modern homes on wheels. Roger and Lynn really hit the road in style in a living van which cost as much as a bungalow.
Their 12 ton van is a massive 42′ long. Its special feature is its pull out drawer, a four feet wide section of the lounge, which can be slid into the main body of the van when it is on the road. The van is centrally heated, carrying twenty gallons of oil and there is a bath and shower fed by a one hundred gallon water tank.
The other major attractions are a split level cooker, refrigerator, and of course those necessities of modern living, the television, video recorder and music centre, as well as an electric television aerial which can be swivelled round into the best reception position. With its two compact bedrooms it is more than the equal of some town flats. It was designed by Roger and Lynn and built for them over a nine month period by a Welsh caravan specialist. When George Rhodes moved into Lincolnshire for work in agriculture during the Second World War, he went with his close friend, John Dowse. His mother was also a close friend of Annie Tuby and now the two families have been joined by the marriage of George Rhodes and Ivy’s daughter, Pauleen, to Jon Sheldon Dowse. The family travel extensively throughout South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and South Humberside where Sheldon Dowse organises four fairs at Scunthorpe. These sites take in the large fairs such as Doncaster St. Ledge down to the fair on the village green. They start their travels in mid February with a visit to Owlerton Stadium, Sheffield and then to Scunthorpe for Easter. South Yorkshire mining towns follow as does Spalding Flower Parade fair, Cleethorpes, other towns and villages in Lincolnshire before the season is drawing to an end in November, although they do present children’s rides in Scunthorpe as part of the town’s Christmas Shopping Festival.
And in this age of modern thrill rides, Sheldon Dowse and his family have travelled with a waltzer for the past twenty five years, owning their present machine for some twelve years, although it is constantly being updated and improved so it will never lose its appeal.
He feels that he will always travel the waltzer. For as he has said, “New rides come along which can be built up off the back of a articulated truck and they are popular for a few years then seem to fade. The waltzer appeals to the teenagers” But as well as the waltzer, there is a hot dog stall which daughter Jackie looks after, and an amusement arcade for son Matthew to run. And with John Sheldon Jnr and Warren growing up, here is another side of the family who will carry on two famous showland names. And in their latest trailer, such is the standard of comfort that as well as the shower, there is an in built hi-fi system and craftsmanship which would have been the envy of many of our old time builders. Here, education is seen as an interesting experience. Daughter Jackie summed up the feeling when as many as nine different schools can be attended in the course of a year, when she said “school was always a novelty with us, and we used to look forward to going to the different schools”. Sheldon and Pauleen can be rightly proud of the academic achievements of son Matthew. For he was helping with family business while he was at school.
During the winter when the family were at Stainforth, he went to the local school, but for eighteen months prior to taking his O level examinations, Matthew had to study at home with work set by the school. Yet, when the results were announced he had passed in eight subjects, an achievement that non-fairground parents would have been proud of.
Fortunately the family own their own winter quarters at Stainforth and can play host to other fairground people, providing a place for their living wagons during the winter months. This is a badly needed service in an age when finding winter quarters is becoming more and more difficult for the fairground fraternity. And the feeling of village people towards the fairs has not changed since the days of ‘Tom’ Tuby. For Sheldon and Pauleen visit the Derbyshire village of Tideswell for the Well Dressing. They have been going there for so many years that today they are looked upon almost as villagers in their own right. The name of the Tuby family is respected in towns and villages throughout their travelling area, and nowhere is this more true than in Retford where Arthur Tuby presents first class undertakings with the variety of attractions that you expect from a Tuby presentation. Local man, Jack Schofield who restored and now travels the Ashley Gallopers, told me that Retford’s fair was in some ways an anomaly. For while it is in Nottinghamshire and comes under the Notts and Derby section of the Guild, that section’s showmen do not stand it. The Tuby family from Doncaster have always come to Retford and indeed, the neighbouring town of Worksop. With Retford being on the A1 (the Great North Road), it was also a stopping place for other travellers moving north and south. Retford Common, alas no longer with us a ‘common’ for such purposes, used to be a pulling in place for travellers.
The common was a true stopping place and Jack Schofield told me it was unusual if there were not at least a couple of showmen’s wagons on it, people passing through or there to buy something, and when the fair was there, in the market place, something else the town has lost since pedestrianisation, the common played host to the living wagons.
In those days looking back to the thirties, Retford was the furthest south that the Tuby family travelled. And the stories tell us that when they were coming to Retford, ‘Tom’ Tuby would always pull in, wearing his usual bowler hat, arriving in a horse and trap on his own. The local men of the district who were out of work would all be waiting for him, ready to build him up. He had regular men who would drop everything they were doing when ‘Tom’ Tuby arrived. He would set them on in the market square to his building up. He had a nucleus of staff, his drivers, etc., but he still relied on some local Retford labour, just as Terrence Tuby, Arthur’s son does with a couple of local lads who help just at Retford and Worksop. The ‘Half Moon’ pub in the town was recognised as the place where showmen went for refreshment, and just in front of the ‘Half Moon’ there used to be a square of Tuby wagons, with the inside facing inside, so they had some privacy and the ‘blank’ side of the living wagon faced the outside public gaze. The first job, when the wagons were in position was for them to be washed down so all the road grime was removed. Jack told me that there were always four riding machine positions at #Retford, three for the Tuby attractions and one for Lings. There was the Tuby Gordon Bennett motors and then the Ark. Then there was the dodgems in what was originally Annie Tuby’s Chair position. There was one other space that played host to a number of Tuby attractions. The caterpillar was on it and Jack can remember the Dowse family standing on it. Such was the feeling for the Tuby family in Retford that there is still a manhole in the market place with the water supply which was put in for their traction engines. And near the present post office was the Tuby owned field where they kept their horses and living vans during Retford fair time. Arthur Tuby has two sons as we have seen, and Arthur took over the fairground run which Harry and later son George Thomas had before he moved to first the amusement part at Whitby and later another at Scarborough. The dodgems which Arthur bought from George Thomas are now in the care of son Terrence with Trevor looking after the fairground side of Arthur’s business.