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25th September 2009, 12:42pm
Free history talk explores the fairs which brought country folk to town
The Lincolnshire Flag A colourful Lincolnshire tradition which brought town and country together, and sometimes to blows, more than a century ago will be explored in a free talk at the University of Lincoln as part of the Lincolnshire Day celebrations on 1 October.

Social historian Dr Andrew Walker will deliver a special one-off lecture, open to the public, in which he will shed light on the now near forgotten custom of the county’s annual hiring fairs.

These events, which were commonplace throughout Lincolnshire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, allowed agricultural servants to find new places of employment following the end of their annual contracts.

The talk draws on documentary evidence from a range of sources, including the national agricultural press, Lincolnshire newspapers, police records, personal testimonies and parliamentary reports.

Dr Walker, Head of the School of Humanities and Performing Arts at the University of Lincoln, specialises in social and cultural history, particularly regional identity.

He said: "The talk will examine the hiring fair as a spectacle and consider some of the colourful customary aspects of the events which became increasingly distinctive to Lincolnshire as the 19th century advanced. It will also consider the uneasy relationship Lincolnshire's towns had with rural visitors when accommodating and regulating the 'country cousins' who crowded into the urban centres at these important economic events in the year. Finally, the talk will explore why the hiring fair declined and suggest how these and similar events live on in different forms in contemporary Lincolnshire."

Dr Walker's research on Lincolnshire’s rural history has been published in numerous books and journals and he has edited recent volumes on the history of Lincoln neighbourhoods. He is an active member of the Social History Society and a committee member of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, the Lincoln Record Society and the Survey of Lincoln.

The talk, Pag-rag days, stattis and fessen pennies: Lincolnshire hiring fairs, c. 1850-1920, takes place at 6pm on Thursday 1 October in the Cargill Lecture Theatre in the Main Admin Building on the University of Lincoln's Brayford Pool campus.

The University will also be screening a series of short films about the county's social and industrial heritage on Lincolnshire Day. These short features from the Lincolnshire Film Archive will be shown throughout the day and are free for the public to attend. The films are: Fenland Farming 1955; Skegness – Then and Now; Bomber County – The Home Front; Lincoln's Railway - 150 Years.

For more details or to reserve a free place at any of these events, contact the University Events Office on (01522) 837100, email or visit

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