History

Learn more about the history of our friendly, open access arts festival.

Buxton Festival Fringe began in 1980 to run concurrently with the world-renowned Buxton Festival, with international opera and high profile literary talks at its core. You can hear interviews below with some key members of the Fringe including its founder, Malcolm Fraser, and first chair, Alan Bailey. Most of these were recorded by High Peak Radio in 2009. The Fringe was very sad to announce the death of former chair Peter Low in the autumn of 2014 so his interview is particularly welcome.

In 2014, Fringe marketing officer Stephanie Billen had coffee with the Fringe's first secretary, Sheila Barker, and recorded an interview (below) about the very early days of the Fringe.

Fringe activity on Twitter really took off in the summer of 2013. Enjoy this flavour of it during the febrile atmosphere of the Fringe awards.

In 2012 then Fringe Chair Stephanie Billen was interviewed for Pure Buxton magazine about the behind-the-scenes work of the Fringe committee throughout the year. With thanks to Pure Buxton, http://www.purebuxton.co.uk.

In 2010, Stephanie and committee member Robbie Carnegie launched the Fringe by singing Surrey with a Fringe on the Top accompanied by John McGrother.

2009 was the 30th anniversary year of the Buxton Festival Fringe, we asked Fringe entrants: 'What does the Fringe mean to you?'. With thanks to the Buxton Advertiser, which ran these quotes as part of their 2009 Festival and Fringe Supplement.

When we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2004, we asked celebrities for their memories of performing in Buxton and received some warm responses.

Do let us know if you have memories you would like to contribute to these pages.


Sheila Barker, the Fringe's first Secretary and a founding member, talks at her home to Fringe marketing officer Stephanie Billen. Hear about the early days of the Fringe including tales of heady nights in which she was kept awake by the roar of lions!

Alan Bailey, first chair of the Fringe, was the first of a series of interviews recorded by High Peak Radio in 2009. His interview was broadcast on January 13th.
 

Next was Peter Low, chair for 15 years. His interview was broadcast on February 9th 2009.
 

The third broadcast, on March 16th 2009, was with Adrian Tissier, a former press officer for The Fringe who talks about life as a committee member and the Fringe's work with children.
 

The fourth one broadcast on April 13th 2009 was with John Wilson, former chair of the Fringe and a real live-wire who talks about his memories of being involved behind the scenes.
 

The fifth broadcast, on May 11th 2009, was with former chair of the Fringe, Stephanie Billen, who explains how she became involved and shares experiences including a particularly wet carnival.

The final 2009 broadcast, shortly before Fringe30 started, was with Malcolm Fraser, founder of the Buxton Festival as well as the person who dreamt up the Fringe. We are honoured to be able to broadcast his very early memories of the Fringe.