Residents and business owners today spoke of their frustration as scores of travellers and their horses descended on a Hampshire village- forcing police to close all roads.

The 800 year old Wickham Horse Fair, which usually attracts thousands, had been cancelled for the second consecutive year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Signage had been placed on all main routes into the village of Wickham, Hants, but that didn't stop dozens of travellers bringing their horses for the annual event.

Roads into the village were said to have been completely blocked as police tried to disperse the crowds which had gathered in the square.

Tina O'Nion, who owns hair and nail salon Wispers in the village square, said the 'frustrating' road closures had stopped customers turning up.

The 46 year old said: "The fair has been on for years and that's fine - I used to come down as a child.

"This is only our fourth week since reopening and as a business we have been shut for eight months out of 12.

"We had a notification that the fair was cancelled and that we could trade.

"My main issue is not with the travellers - I think it was a complete overreaction to close the roads leading to the square, and as a result we have lost our custom.

"I'm just so frustrated that here we are trying to get our business back on its feet and this was an inconvenience we did not need."

Hampshire Chronicle: Crowds of travellers defied police today by turning up for an historic Wickham horse fair which had been cancelled. Solent News & Photo Agency

The mother of two, whose salon has been open in the square for 20 years, added: "We would usually have closed but because we were told it was cancelled we were fully booked.

"50 per cent of our bookings have cancelled, and that has a big financial impact on our business.

"There must be about 150 travellers in the square now. They're not causing any harm, really, but there could have been some more planning on this."

Laura Haste is the manager of The Square Cow pub, which directly faces the crowds of travellers, kettled into an area just off the square.

The 53 year old argued that crowds were always to be expected for the fair - even though it was supposed to have been cancelled.

The mother of three said: "We closed yesterday tea time. Once we realised the cancellation was going to be ignored, we decided to close for the day.

"We were in the midst of a national lockdown last year when the event wasn't on, but this year it was always going to be harder to stop people from coming.

"Some of the gypsies were in the pub last night, and they were pleasant enough.

"But it has affected trade in the square today. We have been really busy all this week before today - things were just starting to get going again.

"I think it was always inevitable that it was going to happen today, because they missed it last year and it's a tradition that has gone back centuries.

"We will open up tomorrow. I think it will be by then - we have a busy weekend ahead of us."