A unique place in Belgium, the fair and memory museum of Saint-Ghislain immerses you in a magical world of funfairs through an amazing collection of objects and carousels. Guaranteed escapism!
A caravan marks the entrance to the museum. Come forward, ladies and gentlemen; the show is starting! Walk through the door and you’ll be flooded with memories. Wooden horses, metal bikes, skill games, blow pipe shooting, trailers serving croustillons, fairground organs, carousels... whenever the era you were born in, your inner child will come right back!
The story of a passion
Several decades ago Albert Reinquet, a resident of Saint-Ghislain, began a crazy collection of objects and documents related to the fair and fairgrounds. A genuine enthusiast, he went so far as to breathe new life into abandoned carousels. This is true of the large carousel which stands in the middle of the museum. Left behind in the middle of a meadow, it was recovered by Albert Reinquet who totally restored it. Built in 1929, this carousel is again carrying children who are sometimes invited to take their seats. Taking a ride on a nearly century-old merry-go-round leaves some memories!
Everything on the funfair
Around the carousel, you’ll discover fairground organs and even a mechanical piano from 1885. Because there’s no funfair without music! You’ll be immersed in the fair’s history, from its etymology to the most fashionable attractions of yesteryear such as blow pipe shooting, claw cranes and the ancestors of little ducks which, by the way, were born in Belgium. You’ll learn that funfairs draw their origins from the Middle Ages. A church’s “dedication” to a patron saint would give rise to major festivities.
A flea circus!
You’ll stand amazed before the Professor Wagner flea circus... The man and his daughter were able to tame fleas so that they performed in public. Using a harness, the little creatures would fire a cart, a canon, a locomotive, or even a hearse! All instruments - from the clamp used to catch them in the material they fired, to the box they lived in - are presented in window displays and a video testimonial.
From fairground to memory
Another highlight to a visit is the fairground made into a 1/10 scale model. Carousel, swings, sweets, bumper cars, Borain snacks... all models come alive mechanically and musically!
Before leaving, make sure you don’t forget to stop at the memory area with its encyclopedic coverage of Saint-Ghislain. You’ll discover the history of the commune through objects and an incredible number of archival documents, in addition to its past and present treasures.
The Museum offers several types of visits in addition to free visits. Tours by appointment are possible for 3 to 4 people. Animated and narrated tours are also offered by appointment. Patrick will take you on a tour while performing magic tricks, playing the organ and telling stories. On the first Sunday of the month, it’s free to visit.
For the memory part, please note than a tour lasting 1 hour 15 minutes is also offered by appointment.