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GALLOPERS AT THE AMUSEMENT PARK (PAGE 3)
by Nick Laister
Gallery: From Joyland Books Exhibition Hall, 1 to 30 September 2000


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister

Spanish City, Whitley Bay

Spanish City is a delightful amusement park near Newcastle, sadly now threatened with closure. Gallopers have always played a major part in the line-up at this historic park and, as this aerial photograph of the park taken in 2000 shows, this is still very much the case.

 

 

 

 



Described on the rounding boards as "England's Finest Set of Golden Galloping Horses", this beautiful ride has been based at this north-eastern park for a number of years. Most of its life has, however, been spent travelling, and it even spent 10 years inside the Olympia Funfair inside Blackpool's Winter Gardens building.

 

 

 

 

 


The big set of gallopers is not the only historic ride to catch the eye. There is a large collection of juveniles in this park, some of historic interest. In the attractive line-up of juvenile attractions in the photograph above is a modern junior carousel.



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister
Thorpe Park, Chertsey

One of the UK's most popular theme parks, and now owned by the Tussauds Group, Thorpe Park is home to a massive four-abreast carousel. Besides having the usual complement of carousel horses, this unique ride also has replicas of some of Thorpe Park's most famous rides, including the Flying Fish, Log Flume and Rapids Ride.

 

 

 

 


Whilst lacking the history and character of a traditional set of Gallopers, it is still an attractive ride and undoubtedly popular with Thorpe Park's younger visitors.



Image: Nick Laister

Walton Pier, Walton-on-the-Naze

Built in 1898 by Savages, this ride arrived at Walton Pier in 1948. Since then the ride has been modified extensively. The Pier had a major refurbishment in 1997, but the Gallopers survived, and are still entertaining visitors to Walton Pier over 50 years after they were first presented there. What better tribute could there be to the continuing appeal of the traditional Gallopers?

 

 

 

 



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister
West Midland Safari and Leisure Park, Bewdley

New in 1896, this Tidmans-built set of Gallopers has spent a large proportion of its life in various amusement parks, including New Brighton Pleasure Grounds and Fairground, Colwyn Bay.

 

 

 

 

 


Since 1985, however, it has been resident at the West Midland Safari Park. It was extensively rebuilt in 1991.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The centre of this set of gallopers features a modern Alan Pell showman's organ, similar to the type of organ that would have featured on these rides in the early part of the last century.



Image: Nick Laister
Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth

Britannia Pier, opened in 1858, has always had a range of fun attractions. However, since the Pier's takeover by Family Amusements Limited in 1995, many new rides and attractions have been added, including this attractive European-style carousel.

 
 
 
 


Image: Nick Laister

Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

This Savages 47-foot diameter, 3-abreast Gallopers set arrived on the park with the Botton Brothers in 1954. Built in 1914/15 for Charles Cain of Deptford, it was called the "Colonial Galloping Horses". Many of the horses are reputedly the carved originals, and the centre engine is still in place, although not used to power the ride. This 36 horse set holds pride of place by the entrance to the park.

 

 



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister

The Village Experience, Fleggburgh

Built by Savages in 1897, this ride was travelled for many years before settling down at the Funland indoor amusement park at Mablethorpe. For the past ten years, the ride has operated at The Village, Fleggburgh, also under cover.

 

 

 

 

 

The ride is unusual in that it does not have gallopers-style rounding boards. The rounding boards resemble those on a chairoplane, and were based on a set of 'scenic' rounding boards.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Also at The Village is a small collection of children's amusements set out on a mock village green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Included as part of this line-up is this delightful juvenile dobby set.



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister

Flambards Theme Park, Helston

At Flambards Theme Park, Helston, Cornwall, is a small juvenile European carousel, which travels in a clockwise direction as an English galloper would.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The ride, called the Swiss Steam Carousel, is located in a small tent. Although the ride is dated 1889, it is a relatively modern machine.



Image: Nick Laister

New Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft

Right at the entrance to this East Coast theme park is this stunning modern carousel on two levels. This hand-painted ride, built specially for the park, was new for the 2001 season and cost a reputed 200,000. It replaced the park's previous Zierer platform carousel.

 



Image: Nick Laister

Coney Beach Amusement Park, Porthcawl

Situated at the entrance to this South Wales amusement park is this magnificent modern carousel. Interestingly, the 'galloping' horses are on a completely separate mechanism to the rest of the ride, which results in the slightly odd sight of horses galloping before the ride has started moving!

 

 

 



Image: Nick Laister

Oakwood Leisure Park, Narberth

One for the young ones! Oakwood Park in Pembrokeshire is home to a number of major white knuckle rides, but has an area set aside especially for children. This small carousel has detailing straight out of a comic book! The carousel has a false steam engine in its centre, and a cartoon-like chimney on its top.

 



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister

Symonds Yat West Leisure Park

Symonds Yat West Leisure Park is a permanent amusement park nestling in the hills on the border between England and Wales. The park is run by Henry Danter of the famous Danter fairground family. This set of Gallopers was recently purchased from Butlin's.

 

 

 

 

 

This set was built in approximately 1924 and is the only surviving set built by by John Allen. Much of the ride is still original, but the colourful horses are fibreglass reproductions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 1931, the ride was operated by the Arnold Brothers in the South Coast of England, before passing to Charles Manning in the 1950s. The ride was then moved to Butlin's at Minehead, where it remained for many years. The organ in the centre of the ride, pictured to the left, is a modern replacement.

 

 

 

 

 


Much of the centre pictured here is believed to be original.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other modifications include fibreglass rounding boards and steel steps, although the platform, and much of the rest of the ride's structure, are believed to be original. The ride is still popular with families visiting this beauty spot, and is located next to a vintage set of Hurricane Jets, a Twist and Dodgems.



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister

Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Alton Towers is the UK's largest and most famous theme park. Although there are no traditional English Gallopers at the park, there are two modern carousels. Cred Street Carousel is the unlikely name of this tall two-storey machine, which is located in the Cred Street (yes, really!) area of the park.

 

 

 



Alton Towers' second carousel is located in Adventureland at the opposite end of the park. Called the Gallopers Carousel, this is a colourful modern machine and is a contrast to all the state-of-the-art thrill rides which, after Blackpool Pleasure Beach, are the best in the country.



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister

Folly Farm, Begelly

A happy ending for one of the rides featured earlier in this Exhibition! Folly Farm is a huge indoor funfair, with operating rides including an Ark, Chair-o-planes, Caterpillar, Ghost Train, Dodgems, Skid and numerous juveniles. At the very centre of this vintage collection is this fine set of Gallopers.

 

 

 


 

This was Savages' last set of Gallopers, which had operated at Clarence Pier, Southsea from 1954 until 1997. All of the horses on this ride, except one, are the carved wooden originals.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The ride was purchased by Folly Farm from John H. Rundle Ltd (which had taken the ride in part exchange from Clarence Pier) in 1999, and has been the centrepiece of this excellent Welsh tourist attraction ever since. Here's to its next eighty years!


More on Gallopers
Building up the Gallopers DVD
Gallopers: A survey of all existing sets of British-built Galloping Horses (Fairground Association of Great Britain)
Gallopers by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith
'UK Gallopers' booklet
John Carter's Jubilee Steam Gallopers
 
Acknowledgements
The information in this exhibition comes from a number of sources, but the most notable source of information on gallopers is the book Gallopers: A survey of all existing sets of British-built Galloping Horses by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith and published by the Fairground Association of Great Britain (FAGB).

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