One of my fondest memories as a child was going to the fair, the excitement and build-up, the sensorial enjoyment, stalls and rides painted in bright colours, the array of coloured bulbs and flashing lights.
The craftmanship and detail of the carving on the rides, painted in silvers and golds. The smells and sounds, submerging the fair goer into the excitement of all the fun of the fair.
During the 19th century up until roughly 1914, fair grounds consisted of swings and roundabouts only and a few traders stands. As technology changed so did the variety of rides.
Some of the most famous rides were the Big Wheel, Octopus, The Carousel, The scrambler, Bumper cars/Dodgems. The Water Log. The Ghost trains.
Fred Fowle was known to be the best fairground artist in Europe, carrying out most of his work in an old tram shed. Starting in medieval times fairgrounds have been going many years, some of the first attractions included freak shows and waxworks. Early showmen left the fairs in the eighteenth century as they became extraordinarily rich quickly as the fairs became popular.
Fredrick Savage invented rides that could run off steam engines, later his engines were fixed to the centre of the rides, this made history. He also produced the Gallopers better known today as the Carousel, one of the original fairground rides. In the 12th Century horsemen enjoyed games where they would ride in circles, this inspired the first platform carousel which was created in the 19th century, fixed chariots went round on the moving platform. The Helter-skelter originated in Hull in 1905, fairground goers would climb up the inside of the slide and then slide down the outside on rough fibre mats, or old potato sacks.
The first Ferris wheel dates back to 1893 and was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. Interestingly the word Shy, in the attraction Coconut Shy, means to toss or throw.
Blackpool pleasure beach was formed on the model of Coney Island in New York which was established in the mid 1890s. Coney Island was to be a model considered by many other fairgrounds.
One of the biggest fairs in Europe is Hull fair, it is also Europe’s oldest travelling fair.
When you visit the fairground today you will see great pieces of art on many of the rides, surprisingly most of the artists are unknown. In years gone by the first pieces of Fairground art were fabric banners. Fred Fowle used to draw fabulous 3D images. Carters Steam Fair own some of Fowle’s work, including the lightning skid attraction. Most of the fairground artists worked extremely long hours due to the seasonal nature of their work. Fowle was very much the perfectionist and insisted on his work having 12 coats of paint. People still copy his work today. Often images used were those taken from original sources. Alfred James Smith and his father were well known painters, their work featured banners and scenery. One ride that was up in South Shields had two painted motorbikes on it. After the ride was decommissioned, the family kept the painted board of the motorbikes and another painted board at the park on which the ride operated. The boards later went on loan to a museum.
It is a must you have to go here:
The Fairground Heritage Centre, Milford, Lifton, Devon PL16 0AT • Tel: 01566 783425
The Fairground heritage trust was established in 1988, and since then they have continued to build a very large collection of fairground artefacts, equipment, and memorabilia. Based in Devon at the Dingles steam village which is an attraction of its own, the Fairground Heritage trust attracts many visitors from across the world. A new building is being built which the trust hope to have ready in 2021. Donations can be made to help the trust continue their amazing work in protecting the many amazing rides and attractions.
The Scarborough Fair Collection, Flower of May Holiday Park, Lebberston Cliff, Scarborough YO11 3NU
Plenty of nostalgia, and classic fairground games for you to enjoy. There is also a magnificent collection of mechanical organs from around the world, dating back to the 1900s, come and hear the stories behind the organs.
Please look at our selection of Fairground stalls/carts below, available to hire at extremely competitive rates.
We cater for weddings/christenings/birthdays/commercial events, we also hire the carts out for TV props, and for promotional events. All our carts are fully staffed and insured. We can also work with you on any dietary/menu requirements.
If you would like more information, please email us. Here are our hire terms - Hire_TermsConditions.pdf