by Nick Laister
Gallery: From Joyland Books Exhibition Hall, 1 October to 31 December 2003


Orton & Spooner was one of Britain's greatest amusement ride manufacturers, formed following the amalgamation of two separate firms in 1925. Orton's produced numerous rides, from early Switchbacks and Bioscopes to Ark/Speedways, Ghost Trains, even Roller Coasters. The Company finally closed for business in 1977, after falling into receivership.

This exhibition of photographs takes visitors on a tour of some of the most popular rides produced by Orton's and is based on photographs from a brand new book, Men at Work, by the late Alan S. Howell, finished shortly before his untimely death. The book focuses on the talents of two of the greatest fairground artists of the Twentieth Century, Albert and Sid Howell (the author's grandfather and father respectively). If you enjoy the Exhibition then why not buy Men at Work and discover the full story of 'the fairground artists and artisans of Orton & Spooner'.

All images are from the book.

Scenic Railways

Albert Holland's Dragons and Peacocks: A fine example of some of Albert Howell's massive jungle scenery rounding boards.








Walter Murphy Dolphin Cars showing clearly Albert Howell's jungle craftsmanship.






John Proctor's Dragon Cars, 1915.





This is a fine example of a 'Spooner' carved Whale car of the early 1920s, shown during the construction of a ride.










An Ark, probably Hibble & Mellor, nears completion in the Orton & Spooner Erecting Sheds. This photograph shows very clearly the paybox and the 'walk around' used by the public to gain access to the rotating platform.





A Noah's Ark (Jungle Ride) during construction in the Orton & Spooner Erecting Sheds some time in the early 1930s. Albert Howell's work is much in evidence here.




This very dramatic interpretation of a 'tiger hunt' was used by Sid Howell for the front of Fred Thompson's Motorcycle Speedway in 1937.



A view of J. Barker's Coronation Speedway in later years when owned by Crow's.







Pat Collins' Super Speedway (Autodrome), 1937. This picture was taken in Burton-on-Trent Market Place during the Statutes Fair in the 1950s. Taken at night, it captures the atmosphere of the fair.



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