The fairground was destroyed by fire during 1913 as suffragettes protested against the arrest of Mrs Pankhurst. The Western Gazette of Friday 9th December 1913 reported:'A large timber yard in Richmond Walk, Devonport, was totally destroyed by fire on Monday morning and great damage was done to property adjoining belonging to Hancock's World Fair. Suffragettes literature was found on the scene of the outbreak, which is the place where Mrs Drummond and other militants recently awaited the landing of Mrs Pankhurst from America, not knowing that she had already been arrested.
Some of the occupants of the World's Fair's vans had narrow escapes. Miss Hancock was in great distress on Monday. 'We are completely ruined,' she tearfully told a press representative. 'About £3,500 worth has gone and we have not a penny of insurance. Times have been very bad lately and we thought we might save the premiums. When the suffragettes were here to rescue Mrs Pankhurst, I said they were brave women and I got into trouble for it. I think now that they are only cruel, selfish women.'
Hancock's Fair must have recovered from their plight as reports in local papers show them still touring in the 1920s.By the 1930s, the fair had a new venue but not all were in favour. In June 1935, the council deliberated about allowing the fair on the main part of the Hoe during Regatta week.
Alderman G Scoble stated: 'I have had a good experience of fairs and I have reached the conclusion that the public desires these fairs. Much of the sting of the old complaints has been removed. Instead of blaring trumpets, we will have the sweet music of amplifiers. There will be no nuisance except chip-potato paper and a few things like that. Seeing that we have a Lord Mayor now, we should celebrate the occasion properly with a fair on the Hoe. Nothing would be more enjoyable than to see members of this council on the hobby horses. If the fair is a necessary evil, let us have it on the Hoe.'
Alderman G P Dymond also objected stating: 'I remember the last time this fair was held on top of the Hoe, it was said 'Never again!' The disfigurement lasted so long that people were disgusted to think that we allowed the fair to take place on the Hoe at all.'
Other councillors protested about the 'hooliganism and loose play' at the fair on previous years but it was suggested that there should be full police supervision.
After listening to all of the arguments, the council, in its wisdom, decided to allow the fair to take place.
Over the years, the fair has lost none of its appeal and the rides featured are many and varied. Throughout the 1970s, one of the most popular touring fairs was Whiteleggs which will be remembered fondly by many.
As a kid I loved such rides as the dodgems, the cyclone, the waltzers, the big wheel and the big dipper but it would take a lot to get me on one of them nowadays!