News and Updates: 2006 News
Mitchell & Kenyon book out now!
The fullest research on this groundbreaking subject...
The National Fairground Archive is
proud to announce the publication of Electric Edwardians, by NFA director
Dr Vanessa Toulmin. This fully illustrated, 312 page book offers the complete
picture on the legendary Mitchell & Kenyon film-makers.
The NFA has a strictly limited number of copies available
for advance purchase, fully signed by the author. To take advantage of
this perfect offer for Christmas, please click here
to access our publications page.
Handbill for Bostock and Wombwell
We present two new articles on the pioneering menagerie
showmen Bostock and Wombwell. The first is an article contributed by Geoffrey
Younger recalling his great-grandfather's time as an animal trainer and
booking agent for the travelling show, the second is a gallery exhibition
of vintage photographs of the show.
For the history article click here,
for the gallery click here.
the fairground ghost
A very rare handbill for a unique performance of Pepper's Ghost.
Our latest feature article traces the history of the
ghost on the fairground - from the early illusion shows through to the
modern Ghost Train. Lots of pictures to enjoy - click here
for the feature.
NFA on the road in autumn
Three trips to London...
The National Fairground Archive will
be out and about at the following events: 'Thrill Laboratory' (see below)
on Tuesday 17 October presenting the Miami Virus project, on Wednesday
25 October presenting rare material on Ghost Trains, and on Wednesday
1 November presenting a chronology of white knuckle rides along with other
In addition we will present rare Orton and Spooner material
at the Loughborough Fair Social (John Storer House) on Saturday 11 November,
and hope to present an overview of our work with Thrill laboratory for
the huge Long Eaton Model Show (Town Hall) on Saturday 18 November.
fairground thrill laboratory at the science
The NFA are proud to promote the Fairground
Thrill Laboratory at the Dana
Centre (Science Museum) London. The events have been curated by long-standing
NFA-user Brendan Walker, an artist/engineer fascinated by the concepts
of thrill and excitement, and their manifestation on the fairground. Brendan
has worked tirelessly to put together something unique in the fullest
sense of the word and we would recommend booking a ticket for one (or
all three!) of the events.
Images copyright Brendan Walker.
updated gallery section
Blink and you'll miss it - the Cinema 180 at Ilkeston in 1982.
We have updated the gallery
section on the site. The second gallery contains a selection of images
from Ilkeston and a short text on the magic of street fairs. A historical
account of the Ilkeston Charter Fair has also been added here.
fight club / go west
We have added new articles to contribute towards our
history section on fairground shows, including a history of fairground
boxing and an article on wild-west
Out for the count - check our history of fairground boxing.
The National Fairground Archive has contributed to two
exhibitions running throughout Summer 2006, both are free to the public.
Firstly we have added some rare posters and circus materials
to the exhibition 'The Grand Parade - Circus in Art' at Harrogate's Mercer
Art Gallery. The exhibition runs alongside John Goto's work of political
photo-digital artwork entitled 'New World Circus'.
Secondly we have supplied some vintage posters to the
exhibition at the Hampstead Museum
celebrating the tradition of fairgrounds on Hampstead Heath. This exhibition
runs until Sunday 12 November.
important film news
Arrest of a Pickpocket (Birt Acres April 1895).
The National Fairground Archive has discovered the first
British-produced fiction film. The film, which is part of the George Williams
family collection, was donated to the Archive in July last year by members
of the Williams family. After extensive work by a variety of film historians
and archives, including Dr Leo Enticknap at the North East Film Archive,
the films were sent to Prestech
Laboratories in London for immediate preservation by Dr Joao Oliveira.
The cache of films consists of 5 films made by Birt
Acres and 6 films by Thomas Edison, the American inventor of the kinetescope.
The films were dated with the aid of Deac Rossell of Goldsmith College,
University of London, Dr Luke McKernan of the BUFVC and Professor Charles
Musser of Yale University. The films include other titles such as Boxing
Kangaroo, also made by Acres in June 1895, and a previously unknown Acres
title consisting of a dog dancing through a hoop and also a chimpanzee
doing a serpentine dance. A full article on the films can be found in
Mail (19th June).
The films will be premiered this year at the Giornate
Del Cinema Festival in Sacile.
Further information on Birt Acres can be found here.
Film stills from 'Arrest of a Pickpocket'.
calling all teachers...
The NFA will be producing a substantial body of 'e-learning'
material over the summer period. E-learning material is a web-based resource
structured to operate in an interactive educational environment. The richness
and vitality of the fairground makes it an ideal subject to add an exciting
edge to learning, and we intend to provide material for all areas of the
curriculum by adding a fairground flavour to the classroom. Over the next
few months we will be actively developing two pilot projects:
The first pilot is a complete on-line resource for the
QCA scheme of work for Design and Technology (Key Stage II) - Unit 6C
- The Fairground. This unit is potentially a very exciting unit for both
teachers and students, but experience has shown that it can be a daunting
task to deliver successfully. The NFA will develop a complete resource
illustrating all the fairground aspects with film and images, this will
then move on to the 'model making' aspect of the unit, where the NFA (in
collaboration with a fairground model engineering company) will provide
blue-prints and instructions for a selection of models. Further material
will be included to allow students to decorate models in the vivid fairground
style, as well as create a vibrant fairground atmosphere with a selection
of sound samples.
The second pilot will be directed towards GCSE and possibly
A-level Physics, and will cover the 'science of the fairground' with interactive
work on centripetal force, circular motion, magnetism and energy transfer.
We are looking for any teachers who wish to contribute
to developing these resources - by assessing content or presentation.
Please contact the NFA if you are able to help.
Looks like fun on the Rotor - but this is a scientific thrill.
out and about - Newcastle Town Moor
The NFA will be presenting a photographic exhibition
as part of the FAGB model show at Newcastle Town Moor 'Hoppings' Fair.
The venue is the showman's bar, behind the rides, alongside the central
Forsyth Path. The date is Saturday 24th June.
The exhibition will feature a selection of Rowland Scott
1950s pull-on pictures, a selection of John Gale's personal images from
the Northern Section, and a new batch of pictures taken in 1938. These
images have been printed in a large format to reflect their incredible
detail and atmosphere - we have added a gallery on-line to support these
pictures. Please click here.
Crowds and performers at Pinder's Big Zoo Circus Show, Newcastle, 1938.
Mitchell & Kenyon - football fever
June will see three specialist film presentations from
the Mitchell & Kenyon
collection focussing on the football aspects of their work. For the 2006
diary click here.
Dr Vanessa Toulmin has also provided an article for
the journal 'Sport in History' (volume 26 number 1) which covers the sporting
aspects of the Mitchell & Kenyon collection.
generous donation to conserve important
Orton and Spooner carved work.
The Fairground Association
of Great Britain has made a sizeable donation to cover the costs of
conserving and digitising the Orton and Spooner material within the David
Braithwaite collection. David
Braithwaite was one of the first 'enthusiasts' to develop and take
the seriousness of his research into new academic fields, publishing the
pivotal books 'Savages of Kings Lynn' and 'Fairground Architecture'. His
acquisition of a large amount of material from Burton-upon-Trent company
Orton and Spooner was to form the groundwork of his next publication,
a project which was never completed.
Thanks to the FAGB we can now make this material available
to a larger audience, with plans to catalogue and digitise the material
which covers artwork, carving, rides in construction form, and some plans.
The images will be available later this year with a new series of dedicated
image-portals. The conservation of this collection will also allow originals
to be viewed more easily within the archive.
Oral History Society - NFA to deliver keynote
Saturday 17 June sees the annual conference of the Oral
History Society. This year Dr Vanessa Toulmin will deliver the keynote
speech and talk about the history of the National Fairground Archive.
new galleries on line
Jones Waltzer at Stratford-upon-Avon - part of the Ron Kinder gallery.
We have added a substantial number of galleries to our
from the archives
section - these include the first look at Ron Kinder's incredible slides
from the 1960s, a Jack Leeson recorded pull-on of Nottingham Goose Fair
in 1962, the photograph diary of Jack Leeson and Philip Bradley touring
the London fairs in 1960, and finally three galleries created from the
photographs used for our recent exhibition at Kirkcaldy giving a glimpse
of the Scottish scene in the 1940s and 1950s.
acquisition of Ron Kinder collection
1960s enjoyment - part of the Ron Kinder slide collection.
The NFA is delighted to announce the recent acquisition
of the Ron Kinder collection. Ron was a fairground enthusiast based in
Ripley, active in this hobby through photography and research. His own
photographs begin in the late 1960s with high quality slide images taken
around Derbyshire, plus Ron's own views of the various steam rallies.
Ron later worked with standard printed photographs, being a meticulous
attender of the Goose Fair pull-on, and a keen documenter of Ripley Charter
We are extremely grateful to Ron's daughters, particularly
Vivienne Morley, who were instrumental in the donation of this collection.
The cataloguing and digitisation of Ron's collection is planned for later
this year - a dedicated gallery of images will be added when this commences.
Joe Williams' Looper at Loughborough in the 1960s - the sign says 'the
only one of its kind'.
We have completed a small project of research into the
history of the Looper ride, a novelty machine introduced in 1947. New,
and more accurate, information is now recorded. There will an article
in the Fairground Mercury (Volume 29 Number 1) as well as an update here
on the website. Research into other machine histories is underway, with
more articles planned. Email us if you want any further information, or
wish to contribute in any way.
exhibition at Kirkcaldy
Codona's Moonrocket - a famous machine that had many Scottish owners.
The NFA will be exhibiting work at the Kirkcaldy Links
Market exhibition, in association with the famous fair. The venue is the
Linktown Church Hall, Nicol Street, just a short walk from the fair. The
exhibition and model show is a one day event, on Saturday 22 April.
We will be showing a large selection of photographs
from the Arthur Jones collection, specifically an album compiled by Scottish
enthusiast William Cross. The pictures are very special, since William
Cross images are not common, and the subject matter of 1940s and 1950s
Scottish fairs is very much an untouched area. Each picture will be captioned
with research completed so far.
in the media...
Peter Mount's new Miami - seen on our recent trip to Ireland.
The NFA contributed to the successful 'Radio Ballads'
series for BBC Radio 2 - details can be found here.
In addition we completed a successful short trip to
Ireland (North and South) to catch up with some of our showmen friends
across the water. As well as updating all the news into our rides history
pages, we have completed some articles for Worlds Fair newspaper.
rides index expanded with new design and
A detail from our new Twist history.
Throughout the past month we have redesigned and expanded
our modern rides section to
include a larger selection of pictures displayed at a larger size. In
addition we have added a 'quick facts' box for each ride type.
Behind the scenes at Smart's Circus, as photographed by Lionel Bathe.
We are releasing a further selection of Lionel Bathe
images onto our website. This latest batch is a selection of Lionel's
circus images, showing his classic behind the scenes views.
To access this new section please click here.
Maisemore Steam Fair with the ex-Harry Gray Ark seen in the background.
We have added a new gallery of images showing the 1970s
preservation scene. This material came from the recently catalogued Ron
To access this new section please click here.
history and development of rides - revamped
with full images
The famous Rodeo Switchback - see how it fits in with the development
of fairground technology.
We have fully rewritten and extended our chronology
of the history and development of
fairground rides - and included over 20 new images on this section.
We have changed the signposting around this part of the site, with the
new chronology providing an 'at a glance' guide to fairground history,
set alongside our dedicated machine histories for modern
rides and our expanding section on Miami
Irish Octopus - picture special
Tractor power on Brendan McCormick's Octopus.
The second of our articles resulting from our extensive
research into Irish fairground history is now on-line, with a photo-survey
of all recent Irish
Octopus rides. These machines were very popular over in Ireland, and
we indicate where each machine travelled whilst in the UK.
NFA to present Lionel Bathe slide show at
A Gloucestershire Gallopers by Lionel Bathe.
Ian Trowell will be giving a slide presentation on Lionel
Bathe's images of Gloucestershire fairs and show families. This is a rare
opportunity to see some of the Archive's finest images taken from this
collection - indicative of the hotbed of activity around fairground enthusiasm
in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
The presentation is part of the fairground enthusiasts
social afternoon, Saturday 21st January 2006, Churchdown Community Centre,
Parton Road, Churchdown, Gloucester.
exciting new articles now on site...
Harry Lee's Steam Yachts arrive for build up.
We are pleased to announce an exciting new section on
our website. Our 'from the archives' section will allow us to promote
and present both current research within the NFA and also delve further
into some of our collections. Initial articles include a comprehensive
piece of research into Irish platform rides, a portfolio of Galloper images
from the Lionel Bathe collection, a photo survey of Scenic Switchbacks
during their last days, an insight into the workings of a dedicated 1950s
enthusiast, and photo galleries of a Steam Yachts build-up and a Canadian
1950s fair. Future articles include an extensive history of fairground
manufacturing in the Erewash Valley, a history of fairground support and
enthusiasm in the UK, a gallery of rare 1950s Scottish images, and a tribute
to King Kong from a fairground perspective.
To access this new section please click here.
Hal Fisher and Harder Jonsson - new publication
The Archive has collaborated on a project with the Circus
Friends Association to produce a King Pole Extra featuring Hal Fisher's
collections and Harder Jonsson's breathtaking photograph album.
The magazine is a 40 page special with many illustrations. Copies
available through the Circus Friends
Association. Our own section on Harder Jonsson is included here.
Tom Norman - aka The Silver King
Our article on showman Tom Norman - aka The Silver
King is now online in our newly arranged 'history/shows'
section of the database. The article was originally written for the website
archive publications and sales
The Archive is proud to announce two new publications:
A reproduced 'Paragraph Book' from 19th century illusionist Francis Testo(t),
and the second volume of Visual Delights.
We now have a dedicated sales page for all our stock
- please click here
fairground art / miami database - now on
Modern fairground art as seen on 'Limbo Dancer' Miami.
Our 'machine history' page on the Miami Trip is now
added to the site, though we have used this opportunity to develop an
index to the modern airbrush art era that was ushered in by the astronomical
rise of the Miami Trip. The dedicated section is split into three pages
A contextual history that charts the success of the
Miami Trip, click here.
A detailed analysis of the broad themes of airbrush
art can be found here.
An indexed system to all the UK Miami Trips, classified
by artwork, click here.
This section is an expanding area and we will strive
to complete this through the next few months. In addition we will be adding
new pages that document more traditional forms of fairground art.
family history page added
Following the second article prepared for a specialist
family history magazine, the NFA has prepared its own page for those approaching
the archive with a possible family history enquiry. This should indicate
whether we can help you, how we can help you, and other online resources
that might be of use.
To access this page click here.