Plans to postpone historic Hoppings

Europe's largest travelling funfair The Hoppings is likely to be postponed this year to allow the Town Moor to recover after being extensively damaged during last year's event.

The subsequent continued bad weather - the wettest year in 100 years - meant that reinstatement works could not be carried out immediately after the fair closed.

The growing conditions over the autumn were poor and further rain and snow this year means that the Town Moor will not be ready to host the fair in a safe and sustainable manner.

The difficult decision to consider postponing this year's Hoppings was taken by Newcastle City Council and the Freemen of Newcastle and takes into consideration the challenges in delivering last year's annual funfair which saw the site becoming severely waterlogged throughout the ten day event.

It was expected that this year's family event would run from Friday, 21 to Saturday, 29 June but the Freemen and the City Council are hoping to stage it later in the year.

The 40 acre site underwent a 12 week programme of extensive ground and drainage works following last year's event but continued adverse weather has meant the land has not had a chance to recover and there is a risk that should there be further inclement weather in June, the ground conditions will deteriorate quickly and will potentially make the site dangerous.

Councillor Gerald Bell, Chair of the Town Moor Joint Working Group, said:  "The Hoppings is one of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated events on the city's cultural calendar so it's with great regret we have had to consider postponing this year's event. 

"We have been working closely with the Freeman of Newcastle to make sure the Town Moor site was ready for this year's annual funfair but months of constant poor weather have meant the land is still in a fragile condition. We think it is in the best interests of the event and the long term interest of the Town Moor itself to seriously consider the option of postponing and rescheduling this year's event".

He added:  "We are looking at possibly staging the event in late summer and continue to work with our partners to run an equally successful event as we have done in recent years however, the safety of those who visit and work at The Hoppings is our overriding priority."

Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chairman of the Freeman of the City of Newcastle, said:  "There is a 130 year tradition of collaborative working with the travelling fairground industry and any decision to reschedule shall not be taken lightly, however this is a grass heath that also serves to de-pasture the Town Moor herd of cattle and a reality check beckons. The water table is a real issue and the root structure of the emerging grass sward is very immature as things stand."