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.