Vintage Fairground

Throughout the week | Priced individually on the day.

Roll up. Roll up. There’s a lot of fun to be had on these original vintage rides, including the Big Wheel, Dodgems and Electric Yachts. No funfair would be complete without the coconut shy and swing boats.

Enjoy the ride…

Travelling Funfairs first developed in the US in the second half of the nineteenth century but really began to take off in this country in the late 19th century, developments of travelling fairs that more traditionally toured the country – Salisbury has an annual fair charter, for example, that was awarded to the city by Henry III in 1227 for the third Monday in October, and which is still enjoyed each year.

Dorman’s Electric Yachts

Dorman’s rare Electric Yachts were found in a yard in Glasgow several years ago and have since been carefully restored.  The ride was new back in 1915 for Edmund Holland and travelled in Cheshire and Lancashire.  It was the only set of yachts new with an electric drive, although the system lasted only until 1928 when a steam engine was fitted.  Later owners included Silcock Brothers, Fred Gray, and Harry Parrish, but since 1953 they have worked in Scotland.  In later years they were owned by Robertson Brothers of Glasgow, from whom they were purchased in 2005.  The boats have been given the names Shamrock and Defender, which they carried in the 1920s.  Today, they are one of only two sets still regularly travelling.

Dorman’s Super Dodgems

Dorman’s Dodgems were built in the 1930s by Orton, Sons and Spooner Ltd of Burton on Trent.  For many years they travelled in the Eastern Counties, owned by Bert Stocks of Ipswich.  The ride was later owned by Charltons and acquired by Dorman’s Funfair in the 1980s from the Francis family  and restored to its present state over several years.  The rounding boards were decorated in the 1950s by Hall & Fowle of Balham, London, often regarded as the best in the country.

The Great British Funfair

We are thrilled to welcome The Great British Funfair back to Chalke Valley this year, with their beautifully restored traditional funfair rides – including the oldest travelling big wheel in the UK!  Made by the Eli Bridge Building company in Jacksonville Illinois, the great British Big Wheel, is actually American. It was manufactured in 1920 and imported from the USA in 1922. In its early years, the ride was extensively travelled by prominent showman Pat Collins.  Little is known of its use through the war years, but it remained in Mr Collins’ stable of rides until 1950.  Arthur Barnard took hold of the ride in the early 50s, until it was bought by the Hart family.  The Lancashire based showmen are most associated with this ride, as they used it from 1954 – 2007, 53 years!  It went from the North West to Symonds Yat, but unfortunately was never used, and fell into a state of disrepair.  The Great British Funfair waved its magic wand (or paint brush), and after 3 months of intensive restoration, the wheel was once again fit to grace the fields, and fairs, of this pleasant land.

The Great British Funfair will also be bringing their helter-skelter, one of the finest original ‘lighthouse slips’ in the British Isles.  Like the big wheel, this ride has a fantastic history.  It was totally derelict when it was rescued in 2006 by the Great British Funfair, who took on the mammoth task of restoration.  After several months of extensive work, this rare original example was finished to the high standard that you can enjoy at the festival this year.

Simon Hirst Traditional Fair (weekend only)

Simon will be bringing his traditional fairground attractions from coconut shy to swing boats.  All his attractions are hand-made and painted, showcasing traditional fairground skills and artistry.