One of my friends once joked, that I was born in the wrong century and I should have been born in the nineteenth century. I’m not entirely sure it was actually a joke and probably not far from the truth. Although I embrace modern technology, I’m a firm fan of anything vintage.
So when I first discovered Carters Steam fair on Hersham Green in Surrey when I was about 14 I was in heaven. This was my kind of fair. Over 20 years later I’m still enjoying it but now taking my 3 year old with me and he LOVES it. He hasn’t stopped talking about our visit at the beginning of October when it was at Englefield Green. Even to the point that he wants to be measured every week so he can make sure he’s the right height for the planes and dodgems when they come back.
Carters Steam fair is completely unique – it is a travelling funfair which consists entirely of vintage fun fair rides. Every aspect of the fair reminds me of scenes from Worzel Gummidge as a child when the wooden Aunt Sally came to life and left for her tea and cake. They live in the vintage showmans wagons and caravans, and the whole fair travels around the country with the most beautiful decorated lorries you have ever seen. It is thought to be the largest vintage fair in the world now. The artwork is just as impressive as the rides and stalls, and its incredible to see this wonderful part of our English heritage still alive and that traditions do continue. Not everything needs to be so modern and high tech these days, and I actually think its beneficial for us to pause and take a step into the past for a bit.
The fair is in action from Easter to November every year and William has not stopped talking about it – hes so looking forward to it coming back and him being big enough to ride the rides he couldn’t this year. There’s a real buzz from the kids and the parents as you walk around the fair and come rain or shine, there’s a wonderful atmosphere here and the magical smell of oil and steam, which reminds me of my own dads attempts at running small steam engines.
Carters Steam Fair was begun in 1977 by John and Anna Carter. Their first purchase was the Steam Gallopers which still run today and is always my first port of call. They travelled these Gallopers, after a lot of renovation with varying steam rallies and fairs. From here they bought more rides and a few vintage side stalls. It just kept growing with the addition of showmans wagons, more rides, steam yachts, and soon the whole family became involved and indeed still are to this day.
The whole fair is a massive labour of love and passion and drive and must take so much work and restoration to keep them all looking so incredible and in working order. Although the fair might stop travelling after Bonfire Night, the winter months are spent repairing, repainting and renovating and getting ready for the following season. They also run courses and workshops throughout the year where you can learn to do the fairground sign painting – this looks amazing and well worth doing, and certainly has been added to my wish list!
They also hire the fair out for TV and Film and I’m sure you will recognise them in a few things! In 2014, they featured in the Khaisher Chiefs video for Meanwhile Up In Heaven, and also films such as The Theory of Everything, The Krays, 28 Weeks Later, The End Of The Affair, Hugo and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Endeavour and Midsommer Murders.
There are a large number of rides and side stalls to suit everyone’s tastes and ages. They operate on a token system which you can purchase from the box office or machines around the fair. For small children there are lovely little boat rides, the planes, gallopers, jungle thriller ark, Austin Cars, Toytown, Train Ride, Autodrone.
And for the older kids the Dodgems, Ghost Train, Steam Yachts plus all the great side stalls – coconut shy, darts, hook a duck, mirror gallery and strikers. For more information on all their rides visit their site which shows all the pictures of them too Rides.
I particularity enjoyed watching a succession of men trying their hands at the strikers, only to be beaten by their wives and girlfriends! Sadly I couldn’t persuade my other half to have a go. There’s always next year.
Carters Steam Fair is a really good afternoon out for the whole family. Their tour dates are not yet up for 2018 on the website, but they will be soon. So keep a look out!Meanwhile if you want to have a sneak peak before the new season, then you can see them in the new Paddington Movie, out at Cinemas.
Carters Steam Fair – http://www.carterssteamfair.co.uk/