Miami Trip - history
Manufacturer(s): Nottingham UK, Emmett, Fairmatt, Eurofab, FunLight, KMG
Debut year: 1990
First UK produced: 1992
Last UK produced: current
Total UK number: over 100
Summary: Late arriving ride that has proved to be a classic. Simple, easy to manipulate, and proving to be a shot in the arm for some of the best fairground art to be seen.
The Miami Trip history, in terms of the UK, is important
for many reasons, not least since it is a sheer oddity. The ride emerged
in Holland as a series of experimental versions based on previous experimental
rides that failed to perform as necessary. By the time it had had a short
success in its home country the future of the ride type looked bleak.
That was until is was introduced into the UK, and became possibly our
most manufactured ride for many decades.
Atmosphere created: William Percival's Crazy Wave.
The Dutch Beginnings of the Miami
The Scheibenwischer-Welle, or 'windscreen wiper wave',
has its origins in Dutch fairground production. It harks back to 1978
and a sequence of smaller manufacturers trying to establish an original
ride, struggling in the shadows of the German super-manufacturers.
Chris Van Otterloo consulted with the Apeldoorn company
Berends Van Loren to build a novelty ride Draken Whip ('Dragon See-Saw').
This ride worked similar to a Flying Carpet with four arms, offering independent
movement from the front and back sections, allowing the platform to buck
and rise. A minor success, the machine vanished after a year or so. Attention
then switched to build a larger Flying Carpet - or Teppich - with the
German company Zierer getting in on the act to establish a popular version.
The Dutch, however, had created a version by Jan Bakker (also based in
Apeldoorn) called 1001 Nights, using a twin arm and reaching a height
of 24 metres. This 1981 machine had many technical problems, and is rumoured
to have visited only a single fair before being retired. Jan Bakker passed
away the following year, but a company called CAH was formed to continue
his work, and proceeded to build a second 1001 Nights using a single arm
construction and acheiving a slightly lower height. This machine performed
very well, and formed the basis of Huss's successful Rainbow ride.
Observing from the sidelines was Dutch showman Gerrit
Tegelaar, who worked with an idea to build an ultra-compact Teppich ride.
The basic shape and size of the Scheibenwischer-Welle was now emerging,
though Tegelaar's 1982 built 'Topper' experienced many technical problems.
This ride still had the Teppich style seating arrangement, and had a back-flash
made of 1000s of metal discs. Crucially the ride was sold the the Kroon
family from the North of Holland, and had a rebuild that included the
forward facing seats that characterised the Scheibenwischer-Welle. This
ride was renamed 'Disco Swing' and can be classed as the first Scheibenwischer-Welle
or Miami Trip, passing later to the Hank family, then to Portrush Amusement
Park, before heading off to Australia.
Isje Kroon built his own 'Tropical Trip' in 1988, and
established the KMG company. His design was further improved in the following
year with a second ride christened 'Miami Trip', a ride which quickly
came to the UK and established the name Miami over here. In Holland production
continued with both KMG and the Kroon family producing and redesigning
these Scheibenwischer-Welles. Dutch showman Bram Dobbe teamed up with
a manufacturer to form the Sluijs/Smalcor company in 1991, enabling another
stream of rides to emerge. However, by 1993 the craze seemed to have ran
Proposal from Mannings...
The World's Fair newspaper of 20 October 1989 sees the first attempt to bring the Miami craze over to the UK. J.E.A. Manning and Sons International had carved a niche through the 1980s importing new fairground technologies from USA and the Continent. Interestingly the proposed ride (pictured above) is not given a name, reflecting the diversity of developments that we have seen spread across Europe. Mannings describe their ride as being manufactured by Carminitie from Belgium, with a 16-seater 'La Bamba' shown in the photograph. It would appear that Manning's offer to bring the ride to the UK did not take off, and it would be a full year before the UK Miami scene began in earnest.
The UK Miami Scene Begins
Innovator - Hill's original machine in original decor.
Steven Hill's KMG Miami, alongside Melvyn Strand's machine,
were the first machines in the UK. Hill's machine debuted at Manchester's
Picadilly Gardens Christmas Fair in 1990, whilst Strand's machine opened
at the SECC before heading for the family's park at Portobello. A Sluijs/Smalcor
Miami called 'Limbo Dancer' quickly followed for Albert Evans, but by
the following year (1992) production began on UK Miami Trip rides. The
next decade would see an absolute invasion onto the fairground of UK built
Whilst the Dutch Miami scene was stagnated by 1993,
the UK scene was setting off in full force. The rides could not be produced
quickly enough. Tommy Matthews and Pete Smith marketed a prototype ride
as 'Trapeze' with an advertisement in World's Fair, receiving several
orders. The rides were produced under the Fairmatt banner, an existing
company operated by Tommy Matthews and at the time building a steady succession
of Tristar rides. Pete Smith owned Rutland Fabrications, and had been
brought up under the wing of prolific ride builder Ivan Bennett. The initial
machine was built for Robert Birch - the Tropical Trip - and another 8
models followed in the same year. These initial machines utilised a number
of different artists and worked with varying themes (see the second part
of our article on Miami art) but provided the groundwork for both the
success and the dizzying variety of the Miami ride. Success continued
for the company throughout 1993, with the production of the rides split
between Long Eaton and Redhill, and a the production of 2 foreign order
Miamis farmed out to ARM.
UK first - Birch's Tropical Trip.
The company renamed itself Eurofab in 1994 as the allocation
of the workloads began to shift in balance, also allowing Tommy Matthews
to continue with the Fairmatt name for other fairground projects. Much
to the confusion of the many Miami enthusiasts in the UK, the numbering
system of the rides remained erratic, with some machines not numbered,
and others continuing the Fairmatt sequence. However, the first machine
built completely at Long eaton was Brinley Gore's 'Mega Motion'. This
move towards Long Eaton was an indicator of the future production of the
ride. Eurofab continued throughout 1994 and 1995, building approximately
11 rides, including a model to a Swiss operator. The company ceased as
Pete and Tommy went their separate ways.
Built at Long Eaton - Mega Motion.
Another manufacturer was also busy on the scene. Keith
Emmett began production of Miamis in 1992 and maintained a successful
run of production up until 1996. Emmett Miamis are even more difficult
to record in their entirety - with many destined for Scandinavia and others
having a somewhat erratic numbering system. The early Emmett machines
featured imaginative artwork, if somewhat crude at times, and so provide
an important part of the Miami history. Themes varied between surfing
and futurism, even combining the two at times, and a benchmark machine
was produced with Billy Crow's Spritzer (Mark II) in 1992 which saw the
artist Paul Wright introduced to Miamis. Emmett Miamis were produced at
an astonishing rate, and the machines sold to Scandinavia were often re-imported
back to UK and Irish showmen. The company ceased production of the rides
towards the end of 1996 to focus on building other rides, however a further
'dangly feet' ride was produced in 1999 for Joey Manning.
One of the best Miamis... Crow's Spritzer (Mark II).
Emmett's final machine - Deep Impact.
Tommy Matthews also dropped away from building Miamis
around 1996, after forming FGL in 1995 and building a short run of 5 machines
all with a distinctive crest shaped backflash. The only other builder
around at this time was Freddy Mattia, who produced a single Miami in
1996 for Irish showman John Mohan.
The distinctive shape of an FGL machine - Stokes' Hard Rock.
John Mohan's Mattia-built Miami.
The continuation of Miamis was thus maintained by Pete
Smith and his newly formed Nottingham UK (NUK) company. NUK Miamis kept
on coming and coming, as slowly the company garnered a reputation for
the best in presentation, not least by utilising the services of Paul
Wright as the in-house artist. The designers at NUK re-engineered the
ride in 1999 to incorporate 'dangly feet' seating, and the next few years
were spent maximising the visual effects of the ride with added lights
and specialist painted areas. The progressive nature of the company product
ensured that many showmen came back for second and third rides, benefiting
from the ever-evolving visual appearance.
Nottingham UK's second effort - The Insider.
Detail rules - bench ends decorated on Simons' The Buzz.
In 2004 a new import appeared on the scene, with Czech
company Funlight offering a cheaper option tyre-drive Miami. The take
up of these rides has been slow, with showmen waiting to see how they
perform. In 2005 KMG, the originators of the ride, re-introduced the Miami
with added features (not least because of the success of the ride in the
UK and the fact that NUK were starting to have an impact on the European
scene). Whether these new machines will have an impact on the UK scene,
and its passion for home-built Miami rides, remains to be seen.
click here for feature
on the history of airbrush and Miami artwork
click here for a feature on key themes in Miami artworks