Corby Pole Fair film focuses on magic memories of town's 'unique' history

The town’s Royal Charter, granted in 1568 by Elizabeth I, is read at the three entrances to the village.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:25 am
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:26 am

A film documenting Corby Pole Fairs of the past has been premiered - a combination of fresh footage and archive film gathered from home movies, newsreels and television broadcasts.

Interviewees, guests and movie makers got the red carpet treatment as Corby Pole Fair reached the silver screen at the Savoy Cinema in George Street.

Corby Pole Fair, a major community celebration, takes places in the Old Village area of Corby every 20 years and is said to have been celebrated in some form for over a thousand years.

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Lord Lt James Saunders Watson with the team behind Corby Pole Fair film
Lord Lt James Saunders Watson with the team behind Corby Pole Fair film

Current occupant of Rockingham Castle, Lord Lieutenant James Saunders Watson, was on hand to launch the film by HD Media CIC about the origins and history of the celebration that takes place every 20 years.

He said: "I must admit I did not know anything about the Pole Fair even though I have been a resident here for many years, but now I have been given the chance to learn about the past.

"The film is fantastic, wonderful, showing the amazing history of Corby. Well done to everyone involved. Corby really has something unique."

Over the past year, Corby-based filmmakers HD Media CIC have been busy researching, collating and editing photography, film footage and personal memories of the Pole Fair from 1902 onwards. This includes rare footage, which has been digitised, and documents the traditions, frivolity and community spirit of the Pole Fair.

Climbing the greasy pole

There are numerous traditions that take place at every fair, including a dawn parade with a reading of the town's charter, floral gateways to Corby Old Village, bell ringing and a greasy pole competition. At the celebration of the Pole Fair in Corby every person entering the village has to pay a small toll or face the stocks. Previous fairs have also included markets, performances, historical re-enactments and a large fun fair.

Denise Westwood, chair of Corby Pole Fair Steering group, appears in the film. She said: “I am really pleased with the film. It is the culmination of lots of hard work and research and it will exist as an archive for future generations to refer to in the future.

"I first came to the Pole Fair when I was a girl, I came 20 years later with my children, 20 years after that I came with my grandchildren, I can mark my life with the events."

Ready for next year, organisers Made With Many and the Corby Pole Fair steering group have been battling against the restrictions of Covid in the lead up to the big day on Friday, June 3, 2022 with face-to-face meetings taking place later this year.

Judy Caine with James Saunders Watson

Denise said: "We still need volunteers - as many as possible and we want people to get involved. The fair exists not just to entertain people but to include them in its creation and enjoyment.”

The archive film can be seen at series of free community screenings thanks to generous support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.

First-hand accounts from people who attended the Pole Fair between 1947 and 2002 have been edited alongside special recordings of original music from 1585 to 2002, performed on authentic instruments in period settings.

Pole Fair regular Cyril Sellars features in the film. He said: "It was brilliant. I saw parts of the Pole Fair that I hadn't seen before they did a great job pulling all the film together. I'm a Corby man and I really enjoyed it."

A pipe band takes a break

Corby Technical School pupil Jakob Litwin, 14, worked on the film as a camera operator at two shoots at Rockingham Castle, and attended the premiere with his mum Ewa.

Ewa said: "I am so proud of him. It is a brilliant movie. We will be going to the Pole Fair but we didn't know anything about it before."

Jakob added: "It is something that I would like to do in the future. I'll be working on the film to cover the event which will be put into a time capsule."

The film, directed by Paul Balmer and produced by Judy Caine from HD Media CIC, will be available on You Tube and from the Corby Pole Fair Facebook site.To get involved with the Corby Pole Fair call 01536 267895 or email [email protected]

For project updates, follow the Corby Pole Fair Facebook page at or visit www.madewithmany.org.

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