Golden Gallopers Carousel

This gallery of photographs shows a snapshot of the massive job of constructing the Carousel at the beginning of the season. Click on a photograph to open a large version in a new window.

History of the carousel

Dating back to the fifth century AD, the carousel has a long and interesting history.  A Byzantine etching depicting riders swinging in baskets tied to a central pole is one of the earliest records known. The word ‘Carousel’ is believed to originate from the time of the Crusades and was derived from the Spanish carosella which means “little war” and was probably named after a Turkish game played by soldiers on horseback. By the late 17th century, the game had developed into a fixed structure with legless wooden horses hung from arms attached to a central pole. 

Revolutionised by Frederick Savage

In 1870 the carousel was revolutionised by Frederick Savage, an English engineer who designed one of the first up-and-down cranking machines that gave the horses their galloping motion. Ornate panels and trimmings were then added, which not only gave the carousel a grand appearance, but also helped to hide the mechanics. Today’s carousels take many forms but all still remain a fairground favourite. 

Built by Savage in 1888

The ‘Golden Gallopers’ on Brighton seafront was built in 1888 by Frederick Savage at his workshop in Kings Lynn. At the beginning of its life it toured the North of England for over twenty years before being bought by an American enthusiast who shipped it to the USA.  It was returned to England in 1990, when it was bought and restored by Mr Corbin of Wiltshire.

Essential repair and renovation

Owen Smith, the current owner, bought the carousel in 1997, and it has been on Brighton seafront from Easter to September every year since then. At the end of each season the carousel is de-constructed to facilitate an essential programme of six months renovation and repair. All parts are inspected for safety and repainting and re-varnishing carried is out.

A Brighton seafront icon

The ‘Golden Gallopers’ carousel is certainly a very popular seafront attraction – whatever the weather. It is much photographed and has been featured in many films. The father and son team of Owen and his son, also named Owen, hope that the carousel will be around to entertain visitors for many years to come.

Comments about this page

  • As this is My B&H someone will know the correct answer here but I heard on Radio 4 (where else?) that US and UK ’roundabouts’ have different names and go in different directions. One is a ‘carousel’ (USA I think), the other is a ‘galloper’. However I can never remember which one goes which way which as this Brighton example has crossed the Atlantic at least twice, is rather confusing.

    By Geoffrey Mead (04/07/2012)
  • Owen – your business is just the job for our seafront – a tonic for the town and the fish n chips are the biz. We had a fabulous event at the Carousel. Many thanks. Geoff (Ex Mayor of Brighton and Hove)

    By Geoff Wells (06/07/2012)
  • Hi Geoff, in reply to your question Owen Smith tells me that you are quite right-the carousels in America do revolve opposite to our Gallopers. Also the Horses in America are carved trotting not galloping as ours.

    By Tony Mould (08/07/2012)
  • Hi Geoff, Sorry I forgot to say the American Carousels revolve anti-clockwise and the English Gallopers clockwise. Apparently it is a very simple operation to change the direction.

    By Tony Mould (08/07/2012)
  • I was wondering if you could tell me how many horses your gallops have and their names please as I am looking to put together an activity book for our next family day trip? Thank you.

    By Fiona (18/10/2012)
  • Hi Fiona, I have spoken to Owen the proprietor of the “Golden Gallopers” and he tells me the Horses names are as follows. Terry,Kinsey,John,Sarah,Marie,Gerald,Gemma,Kelly,Carol, Rene,Janie,Judy,Lydia,Max,Laura,Rebecca,Malcolm,Ann,Kim,Neil,Ken,Michelle,Max,Brian,Claire,
    David,Mark,Jamie,Josie,Megan,Reiss,Dion,Owen,Bill,Patricia,and Flo. In case you have lost count there are 36 Horses on the Galloper.

    By Tony Mould (20/10/2012)
  • I was just wondering if anyone had contact details for Owen Smith assuming he is still the owner – I wanted to find out pricing options for bulk buying tickets (for a wedding party). Unfortunately I’m not down in Brighton to go in person for a few weeks.

    By Laura (20/08/2014)
  • Hello, I also wanted contact details for my April wedding. It would be amazing if someone could help me track down a number or email. Please please please xxx 

    By Helen (18/01/2015)

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