Satellite / Trabant
Manufacturer(s): Bennett, Turnagain / ARM, Maxwell, Chance (import)
Debut year: 1965
First UK produced: 1965
Last UK produced: 1983
Total UK number: around 40
Summary: Clever motion of an off-centre counter-rotating base. The ring
of seats tilts drastically and then dives and climbs in a seemingly erratic
fashion. This ride ushered in the era of advanced lighting techniques,
forsaking traditional decor for stunning illumination. The ride became
established as a reliable park attraction.
If any ride adopted a variety of names then this was
the best example travelling under the names Satellite, Trabant,
Mexican Hat, Razzle Dazzle and Hully Gully. An original American design
built by Chance, the ride became popular in Germany and took on the name
Trabant, the German for Satellite. Its introduction into the UK
paved an important part of our fairground heritage in that it helped to
establish the Long Eaton based engineering company set up by Ivan Bennett.
The machine was introduced with a full-page advertisement in World's Fair
(9/1/65) stating that the Trabant (now to be known as Satellite), would
be built by Ivan Bennett under licence from US company Chance. A short
legal battle ran with Frank Codona about the production of the initial
ride, with Frank originally down to receive the first model. Technical
details announced that the machine could sit on a single load, be built
up by 2 men in 3 hours and had 20 seats and a wooden platform. A similar
advertisement in June of that year listed the original list of orders
placed including: Eddie Monte, Teddy Morley, Seldon (Rhyl), Botton Brothers
(Battersea), S. Crow, Porthcawl Recreations, Martland Brothers (Southport),
Margate Dreamland and Reuben Wilson (Great Yarmouth). Frank Codona never
received the original ride, but after resolving his dispute with the company
would later purchase his own machine, designed with a square front for
By October 1965 Ivan Bennett had secured a feature in
the paper giving a potted history of the company, and providing a glimpse
at some of the key players in the next few decades of fairground engineering
(not least a youthful looking Pete Smith, later to develop Nottingham
UK). The feature showed Ivan standing proudly in front of a Satellite
in full flow at Nottingham Goose Fair, whilst his technical crew were
photographed in the factory examining the interior of the recently developed
full hydraulic Satellite this being the UK's first fully hydraulic
ride and unfortunately somewhat ahead of its time. Ivan Bennett, who began
in the textile printing business, proudly proclaims this as
progressive step ever taken in the ride business.
Bennett built around 24 Satellites, including 1 for
Sweden and 1 for Australia, proving the theory that the ride would be
a success. At the same time there was some swift changes of ownership
and this, combined with the fact that the machines were remarkably similar
in appearance, made tracking them an impossible task. The ride was brightly
decorated with plastic panels, their interchangeable nature making any
ride able to look like any other or totally different from itself in a
previous guise! Whereas some rides began to drift on the fringes of the
fairground and spend sporadic amounts of time in various parks, others
became established on the circuit. Norman Print took over the Battersea
machine and travelled this for 15 years before its sale to Ireland, Billy
Crow made successful use of his ex-Porthcawl machine before this went
over to Ireland, whilst S. Crow's 1965 Satellite spent 10 years in the
north east before time with Michael Wallis (who fitted hoods onto the
Norman Print's Satellite, with thematic centre
M. Wallis, rare shot with hoods attached, 1978.
Billy Crow's machine, Hull, 1978.
W.N. Taylor, 1980.
The Oxford based engineering company Turnagain / ARM
took up manufacturing of the Trabant at the end of the 1970s, making a
slightly more modern ride utilising a chequer-plate finish. The first
machine was delivered to Keith James in time for Ilkeston Charter Fair
in 1977, the company organising a coach trip from Oxford to celebrate
this initial acheivement. Turnagain quickly developed an even more futuristic
looking ride by adding a sloping floor and increasing the visual impact
through added lighting. Sloped-floor machines were produced for John Manning,
Billy Crow (Razzle Dazzle), Arthur Stevens (Hully Gully) and George Traylen
(Galaxy). By the early 1980s the ride was starting to appear dated, and
Turnagain focussed their attention on providing standard machines for
a number of Butlins parks.
Scottish company Maxwells also built a single Satellite,
this machine having a long chain of owners before spending a long period
at Mablethorpe amusement park.
Keith James, ARM debutant machine, 1980.
Billy Crow, sloping floor and a name from the past - Razzle Dazzle - 1980.
George Traylen's Galaxy, sloped floor visible, 1986.
Stevens' Hully Gully, debut year 1981.
Satellite variations existed in small amounts. The Gyro
was a novelty travelled by Kenny Raywood and Claude Margett, with at least
juvenile Gyro also in existence. This juvenile machine (pictured
below) was later converted into the 'Turbo' novelty
travelled by the Wilmot family. A homemade
Astronite was travelled
by J. Peters, though this only lasted a short while.
Gyro photographed in Prestatyn, 1979.
Astronite, no date.