Men at Work: The fairground artists and artisans of Orton & Spooner
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Below is an extract from Men at Work.

"Harry Shilton was a painter and remembers well what it was like to put a fairground ride together. In the 1930s he was very much involved with the ride of the day, the Noah’s Ark. He recalls: ‘I do not think it would be possible to even guess how long it took to construct an Ark from start to finish, as there were too many different trades involved. For instance, all the ironwork for the sleepers, the platforms, handrails, rounding boards etc., were made in the Blacksmith’s shop at the Princess Street works. It was a kind of ‘closed shop’ to us, a ‘secret unit’ that worked in a dark atmosphere with its glowing coke braziers, anvils, big hammer and heavy machinery. The only blacksmith I ever saw at the Crescent works was Mr Baxter senior, who was also the Crescent caretaker.

The machine that was fixed in the centre of the Ark provided the motive power and was a patented device that came ready made from elsewhere. It never seemed to make an appearance until the Ark was ready for testing. On arrival an electrician would turn up as well and in a day or two the Ark would be put together and run on test for 24 hours. I must say that working in the vicinity of such a test was exceedingly draughty!"

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