Series KL/TC 14 - Papers relating to the Mart

Identity area

Reference code

KL/TC 14


Papers relating to the Mart


  • 1919-1959 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

8 boxes

Context area

Archival history

Kept by the Borough of King's Lynn since creation.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Correspondence to the Town Clerk from individual showmen and some draft responses back to the showmen. There are also a limited number of letters to and from local business owners regarding the Mart and how it is likely to affect their business. Photos of the attractions and some advertising material can also be included with letters.

Before 1947 the Mart ran on a tender system, where showmen would bid for display space. They would offer a price per square foot which would be submitted to the Mart sub-committee for approval, rejection or they would be asked to raise their bid. Returning members ususally had priority but would be overlooked in favour of a higher tender by another. The Showman's Guild was active in lobbying for old tenants over newer showmen and those not affiliated with the guild. From 1947 onwards the Showman's Guild offered a bloc price for display space and let it their members. A little space was set aside for non-guild affilitated showmen. Games played for money, palmistry, character readings etc. were all banned after the 1934 Mart.

Tenders and application forms for display space are including, showing the area required and the bid per foot that the showman are offering. Plans of the Tuesday Market Place are attached to the tenders highlighting the area the showman would like to display on. When correspondence is accepted in lieu of a tender form it is placed with the other tenders. Rejected tenders only seem to have been retained for the Mart of 1930 (KL/TC 14/5/2). For other years only successful tenders survive. There is a booklet with an overall layout of the Mart from 1920 to 1939 (KL/TC 14/2).

Indemnities are forms signed by the successful showmen upon arrival at the Mart. They agree to take full responsibility for any accidents or injuries that may be claimed against. Later Marts also required an indemnity against copyright of the music being played.

Many of the files for years 1938 and 1939 were destroyed by a fire in the Town Clerk's office in 1946. Only summaries survive. The files for the Mart of 1937 have also not survived, although a list of stall holders can be found in KL/TC 14/21. The Mart did not take place during the Second World War.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Some damage done by rust from old paperclips and pins. Many items are weak along the folds. Some stains from mould and damp.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The mart sub-committee minutes can be found in KL/TC 1 series.

There are uncatalogued plans of the Mart in the KL/SE series. The plan of 1906 has the temporary number H18 and the plans for 1908 and 1909 share the temporary number H21.

A Mart rent and toll account book 1920-1930, with a list of annual collectings from 1905-1930, is currently uncatalogued. See KL/TC misc.

The records of the Showman's Guild are held in the National Fairground and Circus Archive in The University of Sheffield.

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Accession area

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