|A Venetian gondola on the 'scenic railway'|
The Thursford Collection is the world's largest collection of steam powered machines, including farm equipment, showman's engines, mechanical organs, and amazing fairground rides. It's all set in a magical world that looks like Christmas all year long.
Of course, the ornate decoration, intense colours and bright lights are all part of the fairground atmosphere, and Thursford emphasises all of that. It talks about the history of travelling fairs and shows off its selection of wooden pillars and carved swags that were made in the great Victorian showman's workshops in Kings Lynn and Burton on Trent. It discusses the families who ran their fairs around the country throughout the showman's season, starting with the Kings Lynn Mart in February, all the way through to the famous Nottingham Goose Fair in October.
|Ned and Jane - our Galloper mounts|
We had a go on the 'scenic railway' which is also known as the Venetian Gondola. It's a switchback ride that goes at a stately pace but rises up and slides down two rolling slopes during each rotation - all the while playing the grand, exciting fairground organ music. We also had a go on the Gallopers - the familiar up and down horse figures of the traditional carousel. My photos do neither of them justice.
I was in my element at Thursford, descended as I am from carnies and circus folk. This was my history. But I suspect anyone with a sense of fun would have loved it. There's lots more to Thursford too - and I'll probably tell you more in later posts.