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TITLE
Memories of a showman - travelling families
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_WILLHAY_08
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Will Hay
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2289
KEYWORDS
showmen
carnivals
circuses
funfairs
puppets
puppet shows
fairgrounds
audio

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Will Hay was a northern showman and Punch and Judy puppeteer. He came from a family of travelling entertainers; his great grandfather, John Morrison, had joined Pindar's Circus when it was on tour in Sutherland while his grandfather, William Duncan Morrison, and uncle, Duncan Morrison, put on Punch and Judy shows in and around Inverness. The Morrisons were also well-known for their bone-setting skills.



In this audio extract, Will remembers the open-air circuses and some of the travelling families.



I mind maself of the open air circus. I mind maself, that. Ma grandfather used to take us out, round Cawdor, Croy an all these places, an Tomatin. Three days. We travelled as much miles wi the horses in those days as what they're doin with the modern lorries. The only thing is, we only stayed two days in a place, maybe three. Now they're stayin a month, ye know? An they're going a long jour-, a hundred miles. Well, we would do their hundred miles but we'd maybe take about twenty, thirty places in where they're only taking one. But I mind o it masel cause we used to do acrobats, an them tumblin an that, but I wasn't long on the open air circus maself, actually. I just, more or less remember the phasing out of it, ye know, an hearing the tales aboot it. Aye, we went - We - Once the open air circus was finished that was the circus side finished altogether. Then they went on to the side stuff, as we call it, an stayed on the side stuff.



But they have what they call the rides. The rides is the machines. An the lessee, that was ma grandfather, he used to take a ground. An there was ma Uncle Jimmy Veitch; there was the Hays, that was us; an there was the Lovats, an they went south an stayed south; an there was ma Uncle George Veitch, that's a brother of ma Uncle Jimmy Veitch; and (who the blazes was the other ones?). There was various ones; there was Hertschers. Oh that's right, the Hertschers. Now the Hertschers pulled out an they went north because they weren't in the Showmen's Guild an they couldn't get onto some of the grounds, cause the man that took the ground had to be a guild member, ye see? Now, he wouldn't lettin anybody else in, unless they were guild member, so the Hertschers stayed north of Fort William. They used to do Fort William, a lot o them places, an they used to go right up the north. We all went to the north, but all the north grounds was private grounds. Ye could go to the farmer or the council an ye could rent the ground. Well, nowadays the council doesn't rent the ground out to you or me an anybody else, he rents it out to one man now; an that man nears always a guild member. An Hertschers was never in the guild because it was no use to them. They didnae need it. Cause up there they didnae need the guild an they were doing well withoot the guild ,so they never bothered joinin the guild. But down in the south ye definitely need the guild or ye'll no get in. Ye'll no get in at all

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Memories of a showman - travelling families

1980s; 1990s

showmen; carnivals; circuses; funfairs; puppets; puppet shows; fairgrounds; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Will Hay, Memories of a Showman

Will Hay was a northern showman and Punch and Judy puppeteer. He came from a family of travelling entertainers; his great grandfather, John Morrison, had joined Pindar's Circus when it was on tour in Sutherland while his grandfather, William Duncan Morrison, and uncle, Duncan Morrison, put on Punch and Judy shows in and around Inverness. The Morrisons were also well-known for their bone-setting skills. <br /><br /> <br /><br /> In this audio extract, Will remembers the open-air circuses and some of the travelling families.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I mind maself of the open air circus. I mind maself, that. Ma grandfather used to take us out, round Cawdor, Croy an all these places, an Tomatin. Three days. We travelled as much miles wi the horses in those days as what they're doin with the modern lorries. The only thing is, we only stayed two days in a place, maybe three. Now they're stayin a month, ye know? An they're going a long jour-, a hundred miles. Well, we would do their hundred miles but we'd maybe take about twenty, thirty places in where they're only taking one. But I mind o it masel cause we used to do acrobats, an them tumblin an that, but I wasn't long on the open air circus maself, actually. I just, more or less remember the phasing out of it, ye know, an hearing the tales aboot it. Aye, we went - We - Once the open air circus was finished that was the circus side finished altogether. Then they went on to the side stuff, as we call it, an stayed on the side stuff. <br /><br /> <br /><br /> But they have what they call the rides. The rides is the machines. An the lessee, that was ma grandfather, he used to take a ground. An there was ma Uncle Jimmy Veitch; there was the Hays, that was us; an there was the Lovats, an they went south an stayed south; an there was ma Uncle George Veitch, that's a brother of ma Uncle Jimmy Veitch; and (who the blazes was the other ones?). There was various ones; there was Hertschers. Oh that's right, the Hertschers. Now the Hertschers pulled out an they went north because they weren't in the Showmen's Guild an they couldn't get onto some of the grounds, cause the man that took the ground had to be a guild member, ye see? Now, he wouldn't lettin anybody else in, unless they were guild member, so the Hertschers stayed north of Fort William. They used to do Fort William, a lot o them places, an they used to go right up the north. We all went to the north, but all the north grounds was private grounds. Ye could go to the farmer or the council an ye could rent the ground. Well, nowadays the council doesn't rent the ground out to you or me an anybody else, he rents it out to one man now; an that man nears always a guild member. An Hertschers was never in the guild because it was no use to them. They didnae need it. Cause up there they didnae need the guild an they were doing well withoot the guild ,so they never bothered joinin the guild. But down in the south ye definitely need the guild or ye'll no get in. Ye'll no get in at all