This is how it looked back in 1951. A few of these landmarks are missing now but there's no doubting it's a fantastic location right on the river and still boasting the Festival Hall as its hub. The paid activities were taking place inside the hall but the good news was that everything outside was free. As such, you could access the extensive vintage marketplace and pop-up high street, the funfair (though you had to pay £2 for each ride) and many food stalls and so on for free.
Off we go then!
We headed straight for the vintage marketplace. And oh what a marketplace it was!
There were oodles of stalls groaning with good vintage stuff. It was rather packed, sometimes it was hardly bearable to try and enter the marquees, they looked so busy and were really rather hot. But you know, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do in search of true vintage!
Obviously, there was the usual gamut of so-called vintage '80s clobber but there was also plenty of real vintage from the '30s, '40s and '50s to interest us. Sometimes you had to search this out amongst all the other "stuff" and then there were the few stalls which were oozing quality vintage where I thought I'd literally died and gone to heaven! My boys were fantastic and very patient whilst I spent the whole day (I kid you not) in the vintage marketplace. Ok, we did stop for lunch!
Fancy a rather stunning Horrockses number with matching bolero? (£150)
Aside from the vintage clobber, there were also many crafty stalls. This lady had made a real effort to dress her stall vintage-style and handmade all her jewellery, down to making the glass beads.
The best, of course, had to be Daniella's, of Acorn & Will with her customarily beautiful display of tempting vintage goodies.
If it all got too much and you were feeling flush, you could rest awhile at the vintage style tearoom.
Mr HenHouse found himself some quality reading. We heard a rather fab little cottage was featured in this vintage issue!
We ended up at the vintage high street where we found our friend Cath K had set up a pop-up shop, complete with Stanley in the window.
The shop looked great and the staff were fab and friendly, a credit to the brand, we thought.
The Munchkin was greeted with much delight by the staff who set about taking his photo. He thought this was wonderful, especially when they also gave him a special Southbank festival bag and badge. I tell you, it pays to be cute!
Nearby was Horrockses, the well-known British brand which is relaunching a bedlinen collection.
They had also done a beautiful job on their pop-up shop.
The staff in here were great too and we spent ages chatting about Horrockses fabulous vintage dresses (see below) and where the brand is now heading. Exciting times for them.
Oxfam also had a pop-up shop, having collected all its best vintage goodies throughout the year. Mr HH had a mooch but we came away empty handed.
After all that, for those with energy, there was still the vintage funfair to visit. I think it was a bit much to describe it as that as the funfair element was not a patch on that at Goodwood last year which had rock 'n' roll dodgems, waltzers, the works. This year, it comprised the helter skelter (admittedly marvellous), a hook-a-duck stand, a mini car ride for toddlers and a coconut shy.
Further along the river, there were gallopers. I love these, however vintage steam powered ones would have been even better.
We didn't actually get time to go on the funfair rides on Saturday as they shut at 8pm and we were still shopping until everything shut. So we headed back for a few hours on Sunday afternoon as we had faithfully promised the Munchkin he could go on the rides and he had been very well behaved on Saturday. So while he chanced his arm at the coconut shy and went down the helter skelter several times, I was content to watch and wilt in the sun!
I really enjoyed this fair even though we didn't even make it into the Festival Hall itself, there just wasn't time. The setting and the fact some parts were free did mean it felt too crowded at times and there was obviously a lot of people just browsing. It was also noticeable how few people had dressed up for the event this year, though certainly there were some splendid outfits and a really nice atmosphere amongst those attending. On the other hand, there were positives in that the Southbank is easily accessible, it was amazing to have such a great day out for free and the setting on the banks of the Thames is really rather special, especially in the setting sun.
And the shopping, ohhhh the shopping. Readers, I sinned. I never thought I would find such a choice of fabulous vintage outfits to fit me and my non-standard-sized form. I think my burgeoning vintage wardrobe will have to be the subject of a post all of its own sometime!
Edit: Here we are (and in the very good company of Ms Flower - thanks for spotting us Donna!)
And here too!