UK GALLOPER NEWS
A Visit to Brighton plus Two New Books
| There are now (as at Spring/Summer 1999) two sets of Gallopers
at the Sussex seaside resort of Brighton. The machine built by Rundles
for the Palace Pier company remains in use with their other amusements.
It was originally described in an earlier UK Galloper report soon after
it was first delivered new. Now it has a standard safety-style fence
surround. A notice on the fence, just visible here left of centre, shows
a photo from the Virgin
Records photoshoot of the Spice Girls, which took place on these
gallopers in September 1996.
Rundles-built modern gallopers on Brighton
| The other machine is to be found on the seafront between
the Palace Pier and the old West Pier. But, as is obvious from this
photo, it was not open to the public at the time of my visit in late-April.
In fact, on that day the organ in the ride was receiving attention from
Mark Waltham, who is particularly known for his electronic control systems
for playing fair organs without the need for an operator to feed in
book music. This ride has recently been purchased by showman Owen
Smith from David Corbin, who rebuilt the ride after its repurchase
from the USA, minus its original horses. The ride dates from 1888 and
was originally built by Allchins. David Corbin fitted it out with a
set of quality fibreglass horses and cockerels to traditional carving
designs and added a Dean-built organ plus a steam centre engine. The
organ remains with the gallopers, but the engine was not included in
the Smiths purchase.
Smiths gallopers (1888 origin),
And Now Something Different - Brighton West Pier
The West Pier started life in 1866 as a Victorian parading pier, where people would take the air and enjoy the view, whilst perhaps listening to a band playing on the pier.
Pinkneys Green fair is the Carter familys event of the year where the aim is to power all their rides by electricity generated from steam showmens engines, as well as using their own Galloper and Yacht steam-powered rides. On this occasion a major feature was the large number of traditional showmens living vans in attendance. Anna Carters recently restored Brayshaw-built wagon was there - readers can see several photos of this, as featured in the book, in the Spring 1999 UK Galloper web report.
Front page from the living van hardback book
|This book is the first to cover the subject of traditional showmens living
vans, those bespoke travelling homes which were frequently their owners pride and
joy, but where public gaze on their interiors was to be discouraged. One all-pervading
feature was the Mollycroft roof. The styles of these traditional vans differ
from those of the gypsy community, although several makers took orders from both groups.
This book covers showmens vans manufactured over the timespan from 1860 to 1960 and also
includes descriptions of some twenty traditional vans that have been, and in many cases
still are, travelling with Carters Royal Berkshire Steam Fair.
The Travelling Cinematograph Show
The Travelling Cinematograph Show by English fairground historians Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith is a new and comprehensive book on this relatively overlooked subject. It covers the timespan from the first reported instances of moving pictures on the fairground in 1896 to the end of their era after the First World War, in a handsome black and white book of 180 pages. The social context is suitably covered in earlier chapters and the reasons for demise of this travelling entertainment form as fixed cinemas became established in towns throughout the country, often by entrepreneur showmen themselves, is documented. The book is well illustrated throughout.
Front cover of this softback book, ISBN 0 9535067 0 2
Three-quarters of the book is taken up by comprehensive descriptions of all the English operators with travelling bioscope shows. As is often the case with such treatments, these chapters can be seen as overfilled with historic fact and trivia, but one readers trivia can be anothers content of major interest, especially if related to the family involved.
Some editing down to allow the inclusion of a full index would further improve
this worthwhile publication.
Manders Waxworks Show, opening
|The next issue of the UK Galloper report will be published this summer. It is planned to include a feature on the visit to the United Kingdom of the US National Carousel Association. Close to 100 NCA members will be visiting in mid-June to experience English gallopers and other traditional rides, to hear fairground organs and visit a steam rally.|
Brian's new book Roundabout People is Here!
Read all about the artists and artisans
behind so many wonderful carousels
|© Text and photographs by Brian Steptoe, 1999.
Index of Brian's reports