Merry-go-round marvel: Victorian fairground carousel from 1895 could send bidders into a spin to make £100,000 at auction

Posted on 16/03/2018 in Press Coverage

Magnificent Victorian fairground magic has come back to life thanks to the discovery of a unique, hand-carved merry-go-round dating back to 1895.

The hand-turned ride, which delighted old and young alike at fairs across the Midlands and beyond for decades, is coming up for sale at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers on April 5 and, due to its rarity, could fetch up to £100,000.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “It’s an important, very early and unique carousel which captures the essence of the Victorian fairground. For that reason, the price could skyrocket.

“It was made in Burton-on-Trent in 1895 and was last used at Nottingham Goose Fair in 1979. It features individually-carved ponies and peacocks plus two peacock chariots and comes with full provenance.

“It’s so extraordinary it deserves to be in a museum. American buyers may go into a spin in a bid to acquire this marvellous piece of fairground history.”

The merry-go-round was made in Burton, a town famous for its beer, by George Orton, Sons and Spooner of Swan Works for Fred Westrope in 1895.

According to historical documents found with the item, it’s the only 10-section, three-abreast carousel ever built and, apart from redecoration, is exactly as it was back in the days when Queen Victoria was on the English throne.

The ride is 18ft in diameter and features 12 ponies and six peacocks along with the peacock chariots, which can carry nine children in each. No two carved figures are the same and they are all suspended on twisted, brass-covered iron rods. It also features mirrored ceilings and a mirrored centre.

Mr Hanson said: “When Fred Westrope owned the ride it was taken to fairs around the Midlands by the Meakin family and was a regular visitor at Burton’s statutes fair every October.

“It was later bought by a Mrs West and taken to fairs in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Later it passed to Jimmy Fantom and travelled with the Fantom family for 46 years.

“After its final appearance at Nottingham Goose Fair, it passed to Burton couple George and Joyce Mander who restored it to its former glory and took it along to steam rallies and vintage fairs. The historical notes tell us that every effort was made to retain its Victorian authenticity during the painstaking restoration.

“Rides such as this demanded ornate carving, decorative brackets and other embellishments made with great skill.In time, the demand for speedier, more thrilling rides heralded their demise and yet there is nothing nicer than a ride in a gentle carousel to introduce a young child to the joys of a fair.

“What really brings this wonderful item to life are many archive images which show it being enjoyed by children and families for generations. This carousel deserves a special home, not only because of its historical significance but to honour the skills of those who made it more than 120 years ago.”

“We plan to set the ride up in Hansons’ saleroom in Etwall and it will be a memorable and magnificent sight.”

The Victorian merry-go-round will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, on April 5. Estimate on application. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.