The towering presence of Showman, Abie Morris, sadly missed at this year’s May Fair
The May Fair sweeps into Hereford like a lion, departing three days later leaving barely a trace or a whimper. And that’s just the way the Showmen’s Guild like it – the ladies and gentleman who bring us the thrills and spills of the fair year in, year out.
But there was a towering presence missing this year: Abie Morris.
Henry Abraham Morris, better known at Abie, died suddenly last year at just 73, and the straight-talking, loyal and proud showman was sorely missed at Hereford and Leominster fairs.
But, as anyone in the Guild will tell you, the show must go on and this year’s Hereford May Fair, and their very own Leominster fair, saw his son Abie Junior, daughter Jo and wife Lily at their usual pitches plying their trade as they have done for generations before them and those to yet to come.
It was a disagreement about a pitch at Hereford’s May Fair that was to mark the beginning of the most unlikeliest of friendships between Abie and the late Bishop Eastaugh.
But maybe not so unlikely? Bishop Eastaugh is remembered fondly in the famous photograph, him in his purple vestments, sliding down the Helter Skelter laughing uproariously. He loved the fair.
It was good timing for Abie.
Abie, annoyed at losing his usual pitch on Commercial Street because of building work, he decided to take his argument to the top and approached Bishop Eastaugh, enquiring if ‘there was any space for my ride in front of the Cathedral?’
This most unorthodox of requests was duly discussed between Abie, the Bishop and the Dean. Amazingly, they agreed and Abie secured the best-ever pitch at the Fair.
It was a never-to-be-repeated request for it lasted just one season. But the point had been made and the following year the Showmen’s Guild were given permission to stretch along St Owen Street.
Outside of the thrills and spills of a travelling fun fair, a friendship of great fondness and affection grew between Abie, the Bishop, and their families. The Bishop of Hereford was even made an honoury member of the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain.
And at the Bishop’s funeral, Abie and his family were honoured to be sat at the front for the service.
There were other areas of great affection in his life, but Leominster fair near pips everything else. His affection for the town never waned, not since his first visit as a boy with his mother and father, with whom he travelled up and down the country bringing fun fairs to village greens across the country. Leominster Fair still comes under the Morris Amusements banner.
Possibly Abie’s greatest role was his part in the campaign to bring Leominster’s Fair back to the streets 25 years ago and there it has stayed ever since.
Next to his beloved family, his greatest dedication was the Showmen’s Guild, to which he remained a member for 40 years.
His family, his wife and four children, continue the business, as his grandchildren will. But this showman legend with a heart of gold, will be missed.