In 1357 King Edward III granted a charter to the town of Newcastle upon Tyne confirming possession of the Town Moor - 89 Acres of common land.
Today the City has approximately 1,000 acres of Moor, including Nun's Moor, Duke's Moor and Little Benton. The section known as the Town Moor, near Grandstand Road, covers 349 acres.
The Moor is controlled jointly by Newcastle City Council, who own the land and the Freemen of the City, who have grazing rights. 300-400 cows currently graze on the land. Events held on the land require consent of both parties. Income generated by letting is used to maintain and improve the land although a small amount of the income is donated to charity. The greatest amount of revenue is raised by the annual Fair commonly known as the "Hoppings"; this name derives from the hopping or dancing which occurred at old fairs.
The annual horse racing meeting, usually held in Northumberland, was transferred to the Town Moor. Traditionally this meeting was held at Whitsun but was changed to coincide with Midsummer day.
The meeting was transferred once more, this time to Gosforth Park. The period became known as Race Week; during which the Pitmen's Derby, the race for the Northumberland Plate, was held.
Also in 1882 a Temperance Festival was held on the Town Moor. A two day event held during Race Week. Music, sport, children's games and military competitions were included. This festival became an annual event until 1912 when the grazing was damaged during wet weather, resulting in the withdrawal of permission to use the land.
A small fair was held at Jesmond Vale.
The festival returned to the Town Moor and was held annually until the Second World War.
A fair was held in the Exhibition Park - a 6 week event which was part of Tyneside's Holiday at Home programme in response to a Government request to reduce demand on transport.
A dispute over site fees occurred between the Festival Committee and the Showmen's Guild resulting in a rival show at Saltwell Park, Gateshead.
The showmen returned to the Town Moor.
Race Week was no longer a holiday period for miners. This is believed to have led to a drop in takings for the showmen.
The Hoppings opened for 7 days, Saturday to Saturday. Sundays had become a time for Speakers Corner when topics such as religion, politics and CND were covered.
The day of the race for the Northumberland Plate was moved from Wednesday to Saturday.
The weather was so bad that the fair was extended for a further 6 days to allow the showmen to recoup their lost income. This had only previously occurred n 1909 and 1912.
Race Week holiday for school children was cancelled because GCE examinations were scheduled for that week.
Problems arose over unauthorised caravans using the site. Showmen and gypsies were separated. This unauthorised use re-occurred periodically leading in 1992 to a threat to ban the Hoppings.
The Hoppings opened on Friday evening, as a bonus for increased site fees used to pay for car parking facilities, litter collection and extra policing.
Sunday opening was allowed between 2.00pm-8.00pm on condition that the music did not disturb local residents.
Attendance at the fair was estimated at 1,250 000 people - the largest crowd ever, with 26,077 cars being parked.
All time record for the number of cars parked - 30,335 indicating that the Fair is as popular as it has ever been.
The Hoppings is a major event in the North East; showmen travel from all over the country to attend. It is said to be the largest non-perrnanent fair in the world, perhaps because unlike many similar fairs held in streets, this one is in a large open space covering 28-30 acres.