which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

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Savage is most notable as a chief innovator in the field of steam powered fairground machinery and later as mayor of Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He was the inventor of a system for running fairground carousels using a horizontally-mounted steam engine at its centre. His carousels were exported all over the world.

 

biography of Frederick Savage

Frederick Savage (3 March 1828 – 27 April 1897) was an English engineer and inventor.

Savage is most notable as a chief innovator in the field of steam powered fairground machinery and later as mayor of Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He was the inventor of a system for running fairground carousels using a horizontally-mounted steam engine at its centre. His carousels were exported all over the world. By 1870, he was manufacturing carousels with velocipedes (an early type of bicycle) and he soon began experimenting with other possibilities, including a roundabout with boats that would pitch and roll on cranks with a circular motion, a ride he called ‘Sea-on-Land.

which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?
which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

Savage applied a similar innovation to the more traditional mount of the horse; he installed gears and offset cranks on the platform carousels, thus giving the animals their well-known up-and-down motion as they travelled around the center pole – the “galloping horse”. The platform served as a position guide for the bottom of the pole and as a place for people to walk or other stationary animals or chariots to be placed. He called this ride the ‘Platform Gallopers’. He also developed the ‘platform-slide’ which allowed the mounts to swing out concentrically as the carousel built up speed.

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frederick savage life

Savage was born in Hevingham, Norfolk, during the reign of George IV, a period in which agriculture in the UK was at a low ebb. His early years provided him with a patchy education and he remained only semi-literate throughout his life. When his father, William Savage, was found guilty of poaching (a serious matter at that time), resulting in a sentence of 14 years penal servitude in Tasmania, Frederick’s work as a hurdle-maker on a local country estate proved inadequate to feed the family. In search of a better way of life, Savage entered the service of Thomas Cooper, Whitesmith and Machine Maker.

 

Savage married Susannah Bloyce in 1850. He also sought employment with Charles Willett of Kings Lynn, credited as a brazier, tinplate worker, ironmonger, wholesale and retail dealer, whitesmith and bell hanger. In 1851, Savage move to King’s Lynn on the west Norfolk coast with his wife.

History of Fairground Rides

Shortly after this, Willet retired, allowing Savage to begin his own operations. His new company produced engines to power agricultural machinery, as well as engines for carousels and merry-go-rounds. In 1872, Savage moved the business to St Nicholas Ironworks in King’s Lynn.

The spark that created the original idea for rides of this type has been puzzling historians for years, although the first machine emerged from the workshops of Frederick Savage in 1885, a year after American inventor La Marcus Thompson installed something called a Switchback gravity ride (an early form of roller coaster) at Coney Island (USA).

which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?
which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

It’s all toastracks and steam power!

The development of the Switchback begins with the advent of steam power on the fairground and the idea of mounting an engine on a “centre truck” to provide the motive power.

The novelty of the Switchback guaranteed its success with the public. Passengers rode in “cars” often referred to as “toastracks” on account of their minimalist construction.

Public success sparked competition among showmen, who did everything they could to make their machine stand out. The Switchback began a

trend for conspicuous opulence at a time when the British Empire was all pervading and Britain’s industrial power had no equal.

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While fairground has always been about escapism the evolution of the Switchback embodied a fantasy element that was skillfully employed in

enhancing the fairground experience of the public.

Elaborate chariots produced by Savage at Norwich, and embellished by the handiwork of Charles Spooner’s Burton-on-Trent workshop,

began to emerge. The introduction of “Venetian Gondolas” to ride in offered working people the opportunity to dream dreams of luxury

in a far away place that was a long way from the reality of their everyday lives. In time Gondolas would give way to replica Motor Cars and

other manifestations of the “chariot” idea – but fantasy remained the underlying Switchback theme.

The feeling of luxury and opulence wasn’t restricted to the chariots and it quickly spread to the rest of the ride. Scenic artists created huge great canvas

drapes that were hung around the base of the rides, hiding the ugly underworks. Portraits appeared on every available panel and board while carved

mythical figures gazed down on riders and spectators alike.

The spinning frame that drove the cars was raised to form a very visible spinning top that was elaborately embellished with carvings and other artwork. Handrails were introduced around the ride’s perimeter and even the central mechanism employed to connect the cars to the spinning frame was festooned with ornamental brass and carved shuttering.

A “standing top” design was also introduced with pillars at intervals around the ride supporting a set of highly elaborate rounding boards. The whole

was topped with a canvas cover (or tilt) that created an enclosed effect.

One peculiar footnote in the history of the Switchback was the Switchback Galloper, upon which Gondolas or Motors were replaced by horses. Quite

why some felt the need to combine both rides is unclear.

Switchbacks were more than just rides, they were travelling works of art that became popular all over Europe. But all novelty has a shelf-life and few

survived beyond the 1920s, as Scenic Railways took control on the fairground.

which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?
which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

Steam-Powered Roundabouts

According to Thomas Hurst, the eminent Lancashire roundabout proprietor, it was Thomas Bradshaw who first presented a steam powered fairground

ride in public. The boiler for the engine was constructed at Pollit’s Boiler Yard in Lever Street, Bolton, while the engine was the work of Messrs Rogerson and Brimelow of Deansgate. Bradshaw

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who made the horses himself, patented his idea in 1863.
It is quite likely that it was this same merry-go-round which visited the Midsummer Fair in Halifax in 1863 being reported by the Halifax Courier as:
‘… roundabout of huge proportions, driven by a steam engine which whirled around with such impetuosity, that the wonder is the daring riders are

not shot off like cannon- ball, and driven half into the middle of next month.’
The impact of the addition of steam power to fairground rides at the time cannot be underestimated, although the above seems an unlikely and rather

exaggerated account of events. It matches the concerns raised by contemporary gentlemen of the medical profession on the dangers of travelling at speeds of over 30 mph on the railways.

Concern was also raised by a local resident worried by the risk of explosion. ‘It endangers the lives of scores of children’, he claimed, ‘considering

the state of pressure at which it is worked’.

The introduction of steam and faster rides was received with a certain degree of apprehension. However, these anxieties were obviously not shared

by all, for in 1865 another innovator, Sidney Soames, demonstrated his version of the steam roundabout at Aylsham Fair.

The same year the best known of all fairground engineers, Frederick Savage of King’s Lynn, constructed his first steam-driven ride and Uriah

Cheeseman was reported to receive a set of steam Velocipedes. A Report in the Lynn News suggests that this ride was present at King’s Lynn

Mart and Oxford St Giles in 1866. The evidence suggests that this was Savage’s first such ride.

which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?
which carnival ride did english inventor frederick savage develop?

Unfortunately, the company’s records for these early years are incomplete and this cannot be verified with total certainty. The next record of another

steam roundabout built at King’s Lynn dates to 1868. and This time it was a set of steam Dobby horses which were built for George Twigdon, an

East Midland traveller who already operated a Dobby set.

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