Roasting the Ram

Nobody knows exactly when they started roasting a ram in Kingsteignton. It is mostly likely linked to the ancient May Day revels.

Attached to the fair is the legend of a drought in the distant past when there was not enough water to baptise a child. On the advice of a "wise woman" a ram was sacrificed in the dried up bed of the stream and lo and behold, the water began to flow!

This photo from the 1920s shows Ned Willis, leaning on a pole and to the right are Tom Whitear, Bill Ward, W Whiteway-Wilkinson & Joe Honywill.

Old pit-props and overheads serve as fuel for the fire.



Maypole Dancers Late 1920s

This photo which dates from the late 1920s shows Tom Whitear (left) & Herbie Mudge (right) holding the ribbons. To the right of the pole is a young Margaret Pickett who may will remember as Margaret Nicks.




The photo to the left  from Malcolm Colegate shows his mum Betty Colegate (nee Brown)  with her daughter Shirley, pushing  a very young Malcolm into Oakford Lawn to enjoy the delights of the 1947 Ram Fair.

There was a small problem that year as rationing meant that there was no ram to be roasted. The story made  the pages of Time Magazine in the USA .

Luckily Lord Clifford came to the rescue and told the Ram Fair Committee that they could go to Ugbrooke and shoot a deer for the purpose - which they duly did.

The girl to theleft is wearing riding jodhpurs which suggests whe was competing in the gymkhana.










The Bickham & Savage families posing for the camera at the 1947 fair in this shot loaned by Mike Savage.














Roasting a Deer

Rationing was still in force in 1947 and despite pleas to the Minister of Food Kingsteignton was not allowed to roast a ram. Lord Clifford came to the rescue donating a buck from the herd of deer at Ugbrooke.

Maypole Dancers 1949.

This photo was loaned by June Kernick

Back Row :- George Gillson, June Kernick, Pamela Scott, Gordon Gray. Perched in front of these is The May Queen who would have been the oldest girl at the Infants’ School.

Squeezed across the middle are: Pearl Mutton, Milly Heyward, Roger Bickley, n/k, Andrea Ryan, Anne Boyatt, n/k, n/k, Miss Hamm (teacher) n/k, n/k, n/k.

Front Row:-Marie Rowe, Derek Cousins, Julia Porter, Harold Sanders, Diana Hawkins, Peter Guest.

Crowning the May Queen 1950

Mrs Joan Marshall crowning eight years old Eltrude Ward at the 1950 Ram Fair. The attedants were  twins Janet & Jill Wills and twins John & Leslie Nicks.

Rationing was still in force and a deer from the Powderham Estate of the Earl of Devon was roasted in place of a ram.

The efforts made by the Kingsteigton Fair Committee to overcome the  austerity of rationing caught the attention of the BBC. After the maypole dancing Eltrude made a radio broadcast to the people of the USA and Canada to tell them how things were in England. She made two recordings, one in English and, with a little prompting, one in French, for the people of Quebec.


Gymkhana 1951

Gymkhana was once a popular attraction at the fair and held after the main sporting activities.  It was usually staged by Mrs J Marshall of the Eagle Riding Stables. The event extended the fair into the evening after which a dance was held at either the Unionist Club (now the site of the Youth Club - after a number of rebuildings) or the Liberal Club (now the Oakford Club).

This particular view dates from 1951. The great oak tree under which the maypole dancers used to gather can also been seen.




Tilting the Bucket in 1951


This was once a popular event at the Ram Fair and provided a great deal of amusement for the spectators watching contestants get a soaking.  The idea was for the team member in the barrow to get the pole through the hole of the plank fixed to the finely balanced bucket without tipping it down over himself and his team-mate. Unfortunately, it fell foul of the ever increasing H&S  regulations.  Spillages of buckets of water made the ground very slippery and contestants were more likely to slide into the adjacent step ladder than successfully get the pole through the hole.

Ram Fair Committee 1952 with Lord Clifford

Back Row:- L Strong, F G Gibson,T Whitear, C Ward,                      A Cornall, C G Sharp (treasurer) A W Thompson (chairman),  Lord Clifford (president), H Mudge (secretary) G Partridge,          F Coombes, W Bartlett (snr).

Front Row:- C Dart, W Ward, F Brinicombe, R Stedman,                C Vallance,  E Kitt, F Rooke, (vice chairman) J Mutton,                   M A Tucker.





Ann Rendell at Oakford Lawn as one of the 1952 Maypole dancers and recalls being paid 4 shillings for taking part




The Maypole Dancers in 1952 on their way to Oakford Lawn in a  grey liveried lorry loaned by Watts, Blake , Bearne & Co Ltd . Ann Rendell, who loaned the picture, is stood near the driver's window with her left hand resting on the cab roof.

1955 Maypole Dancers.

Back row - Left to Right:- R Tamlyn, G. Bunclark, Keith Thomas, Stanley Yeo, Michael Udy, Leslie Nicks, John Goode, Sheila Preece, Mr Bath headmaster, S. Wills, Pat Taylor, John Nicks, Michael Herbert, Terence Perryman, Stuart Thorp.

Front Row - Left to Right:-Sheila Franks, Violet Yeo, Joan Gilding, S. Wills, Sandra Hewings, Wendy Bearne, Barbara Murrin, S. Wills, Valerie James, Georgia Clausen, Maureen Davies, Sheila Burrow, Margaret Thomas, Michael Tucker, Alan Boyatt. This photograph is particularily poignant as it has Sheila Preece and  her future husband, Stanley Yeo together at the ages of eleven.


Kingsteignton Junior School Girl's relay team - for the Ram Fair 1955

Sheila Burrow, Sheila Franks, Sheila Preece & Georgia Clausen

Kingsteignton came second and won a silver medal. Sheila Preece found herself running against her old school and friends from Barton Junior School, Torquay  who finished  first (as they did for the next four years!).


Crowing of the May Queen 1961

Mrs G S Partridge crowning a young Astrid Down as the May Queen for 1961. Her attendants were left Pauline Davey & right Jill Rendell. Standing to attention on the right is Steve Gay, one of the Maypole dancers, whose duty it was to pass the crown to Mrs Partridge.






Ram Fair Relay 1961

Mrs G S Partridge presenting  Ram Fair relay to Dave Savage the captain of the Kingsteignton Junior School team who were the  winners of that year's race. From left to right: Dave Hunt, Dave Savage, Mrs Partridge, Arthur Scott, Colin Edwards.

The front cover of the programme of events for the 1961 fair. No doubt the names of the traders advertising in the programme will bing back a flood of memories for those who were living in Kingsteignton at the time. Some more pages are shown below.

The photo above was kindly shared by Robert Lear and shows the Maypole dancers of 1964.

Left to Right:- Penny Tingle, Sandra Powell, Lorna Morris, n/k, Sylvia Turner, Roland Clarke, Henry Wells, obscured n/k,  Denis Gibbs, Denis Barnard, Robert Cook, Jill Rendell, n/k, Paul Tozer, Eileen Pearce, Stephen Froude, June Rickard, Ken Dennis, Carey Bowden, Robert Lear, Nikki Shaw, Jill Warren, Robert Williams, Linda Wirzycz, Yvonne Bearne, Linda Jones, Tommy Goode, Kevin Cox, John Germon.  I am afraid the names of the May Queen and attendants are not known.



Roasting 1975

Roasting the ram was still being carried out in the traditional way in the mid 1970s. The ram was mounted on a spit and roasted beside a great log fire (often pit old props from the nearby clay mines). Trays positioned below the sacrificial ram collected fat which was used to baste the beast.


1986 Dana Crowns the May Queen

 This year was something of a coup for the Ram Fair Committee when they managed to get former Eurovision Song Contest winner and Republic of Ireland Euro MP Dana to open the Ram Fair and crown the May Queen.

Dana was performing at Torquay that summer.

She was as truly delightful as she comes across on TV and her generosity of spirit was demonstrated when she declined to charge a fee for her appearance.

There were many people in Kingsteignton for whom "All Kinds of Everything" they saw at the Fair reminded them of her visit.







Left 1988

Alexandra Colgate (in yellow sash) looking puzzled at the 1988 Ram Fair with Fair Secretary Catherine Harris (left) looking worried.

 Right : Alexandra receiving some tips from Shirley Hickson





May Queen & Attendants 1988


Another pictured from Malcolm Colegate showing the May Queen and attendants at the 1988 fair.




Punch & Judy Show 2001









Punch & Judy 2010


Roasting 2014


The fire seems to have been set in the basting tray!