ST GILES’ Fair got a warm welcome from fun seekers even though the sun stayed behind the clouds.

The traditional two-day fair returned to the city today and got off to a slow start.

A new diversion route clogged traffic around Oxford in the morning rush-hour.

It was put in place after the county council was unable to complete roadworks in Walton Street - part of the usual diversion route - in time for the fair.

Oxford Mail:

Instead traffic is being redirected on a new route including Longwall Street and Abingdon Road.

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City council leader Susan Brown has urged people to use public transport to avoid adding to the congestion.

Oxford Mail:

The diversion route takes drivers on a tour of the city, running via St Margaret’s Road, Banbury Road, Marston Ferry Road, Marston Road, St Clement’s, The Plain, Iffley Road, Donnington Bridge Road, Abingdon Road and Oxpens Road and vice-versa.

Oxford Mail:

While drivers faced traffic queues the fair started on schedule at about 11am, with Lord Mayor Craig Simmons, dressed in his ceremonial red robes, ringing a bell to launch the celebrations.

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He said: “It’s a good opportunity to give the street back to the city and allow residents to enjoy St Giles.

Oxford Mail:

“I’m hoping the weather will improve and I’m encouraging everyone to unleash their inner child and have fun.”

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The annual fair is organised by the city council in conjunction with the Showmen’s Guild, which brings in about 40 differet rides and attractions, including the Sky Flyer which lifts riders 100ft in the air, and The Storm which spins riders at 40mph.

Oxford Mail:

The guild’s Lawrence Crick said: “I want to thank all the showmen who light up the streets with their colourful attractions and the people of Oxfordshire who patronise the fair.”

Oxford Mail:

Zoe Hawkins, who was at the fair with son George, one, said: “It’s his first time here - there’s so much colour and life here - my little boy thinks it is so exciting.”

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Tess Roud, 31, from Cowley, visited with her daughter Izabel, two.

Oxford Mail:

Ms Roud said: “It’s her first time on the rides and she is a little nervous but we will definitely be coming back.”

The Showmen’s Guild takes 12 months to plan the fair.