‘Twelve of May - Fair day’ was an expression heard in my youth in Milnthorpe.

It referred not to the fun-fair which still sprawled over The Square, but to the Spring Cattle Fair which, until 1929, was one of the biggest in the north of England. Though there was a ‘back-end’ fair in November, May 12 seems to have been bigger, with stallions and sheep being also on sale. It was always a jollier affair.

The day began with a grand procession, which included the Mayor and Corporation of Kendal, accompanied by a band, proceeding to the Market Cross where the Fair Proclamation was read, giving ‘strict charge and command’ not to make ‘affrays, tussels or hubleshaws, pick any quarrels in disturbance of peace’.

The bounds of the fair were then ridden before the ‘company repaired to the Cross Keys’ where rook pie was always on the menu.