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Carters Steam Fair

Wop-babaloo-bop-doo-wop-bam-boom! What an amazing funfair - I felt like I'd been transported into the end scenes from Grease!

Carters Steam Fair came to our town this weekend just gone and we thoroughly enjoyed it! I am a huge fan of anything retro and love the amazing painted signage from old funfairs and circuses.

This beautiful, old-fashioned funfair consists entirely of rare vintage equipment. They even travel and live in vintage showman's wagons and caravans and the rides are transported on highly decorated lorries.

The fair had a great atmosphere in the weekend sunshine - with rock n roll music playing in the background.

Rides are payed for with tokens which you can buy in advance online or pay for at the fair - they work out at 50p per token and rides vary from 4 to 5 tokens per ride.

I have picked a few things that we really enjoyed to share with you.

Here is the background behind some of the rides, information is from Carters website.


The Gallopers are the centrepiece of Carters Steam Fair – they are the first large ride bought by John and Anna Carter. This machine is not a carousel – a carousel is an American ride which turns anti-clockwise, and the horses are often different to one another and prancing.

The Gallopers is a very British ride, born of a time when normal working people couldn't afford their own horse. It provided a much-needed flight of fancy, a break from the drudgery of work, and often they would be highly decorated with exotic scenes, portraits of actors and actresses, of great men and royalty.

In the days before cinema or television, it was transporting people into a gaily-coloured world. They're called Gallopers because the horses speed round, and as they race they're pulled up and down on cams, which gives them a 'galloping' motion. When they were made in about 1895, this would have been the fastest most people had ever travelled.


John and Anna Carter bought the Chair-o-Plane in 1978. The Chair-o-Plane's background is patchy – it's thought that it was built in Germany and imported to Britain in the 1920s as a blank canvas, ready to be painted by British showmen. It's generally the case that British roundabouts run clockwise, whereas their Continental and American counterparts run anti-clockwise. The Chair-o-Plane certainly runs the right direction to be a British-built ride, but it may have been adapted by an early owner.


Swingboats used to be a common sight in small fairs around Britain in the 1800s and first half of the 20th century, up until the desire for 'new' and 'fast' began to take hold after WWII. Before that time, swingboats were so common and popular amongst showfolk that it gave root to a phrase: "The fair is in full swing."

The smaller set, the White Waltham High Flyers, are a juvenile set that has been with the family for years. The larger, adult set – the Park Swings – were found in a showman's yard in Watford, rotting and in terrible condition.


The Dodgem track was built by Supercar of Warwick, and had spent its entire working life in an arcade until it was bought from Messrs Shaws Amusements in 1989, when John and Anna Carter had begun to travel the fair independently from established steam rallies and other events. After a search, this dodgem track was found, and was restored to its former glory and named The Kings of Rock'n'Roll Dodgems.


Carters Steam Fair travels three Strikers – or "test your strength" machines – the Mighty Striker, Mother Striker and Son of Striker.

The Mighty Striker, the largest of the three, dates from around 1948, and is believed to have been built for showman "Chicken Joe" France. He sold it to "The Windsor Lad" Chris Rigden in about 1970, and Carter's bought it in 1975 to use at the rallies and collectors bazaars that John and Anna Carter were running at the time. It was actually the first piece of fairground equipment the Carters owned.

Joby Carter and his wife Georgina now manage the fair, and the family are all involved in the maintenance and restoration of the rides – Joby, Seth, Rosie and Anna all paint. The fair was also used in the film Paddington 2.

Keep a look out for the next venue - Carters travel around London and the home counties.

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