THE Mop Fair’s return already seems a distant memory — as swiftly as it rolled into town and took shape, no trace of it remained by Wednesday morning.

The annual event, also known as the October Fair or Hop Fair, opened on Monday and closed on Tuesday. 

It’s arrival in town has been particularly welcome after the disappointment of last year's cancellation due to the pandemic.

An added bonus was the fine October weather — in years gone by, rain, wind and cold were often as much a part of the traditional event as the Waltzers or Dodgems.

The declaration of the official opening of the fair was made by the town crier at 5pm on Monday. He was accompanied by the Carnival Princess, her attendants, the Mayor and his Deputy, along with other dignitaries and guests of honour.

Mayor Andrew Manns said: "After the difficult times that the people, traders, and businesses of Ledbury have had, it will be a welcome return to something more normal.

“With a bit of luck we shall also see bonfire night and the Christmas lights switch-on.”

While today’s Mop Fair is all about fun and frivolity, it originally served as as a sort of labour exchange, where people looking for work would gather with the tools of their trade, such as mops.

It also marked the end of the hop harvest, a season when anyone would have found temporary employment. 

The fair was first recorded during the troubled reign of King Stephen in 1138 and was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584.

For many years it has been brought into town by the Rogers Family of travelling showmen. 

They have drawn wide-spread admiration for the sheer speed in which they were able to construct, and then disassemble, the fairground. 

According to eyewitness reports on social media, the last of the fair vehicles rolled out of town shortly after 4am on Wednesday morning. Writing on the Voice of Ledbury Facebook group, Donna Flynn said: “They don't hang around!”

See more of Mr Sparrey's photos of the fair here.