Following on with this topic, I can recall not only operating an organ
on a carousel (called gallopers by showmen in the UK), but helping to
"pull-down" the ride when the fair closed, in the early 1980s.
The ride in question was the Irvin Gallopers, operated by the late
Benny Irvin. This well-known show family had operated the ride since
1914 in the traditional way. The ride was built-up in an open-air
fairground, whether it be a field or in a town centre on the street.
There was no building around it, so the sound of the organ (89-key
Marenghi) carried far and wide. Of course, this was the intention,
as it should be heard by anyone in the area as an invitation to come
and spend their money -- the louder the organ the better! At the Derby
Fair on Epsom Downs, the Irvin gallopers was situated close to the
Noyce gallopers (89-key Gavioli), with both organs playing continuously
As far as I know, traditionally organs were operated continually
throughout the opening hours of the fair, often for ten hours each
day. I remember Benny Irvin calling me one day asking me to come
and attend to a fault with the organ which he had had to turn off
altogether. He said people were not coming up to ride, as they were
under the impression it wasn't operating as the organ was off. He
was simply losing money. The fault turned out to be heat related,
as it was an unusually hot day, for England.
On the subject of carousel buildings, here in the UK I know of no
building actually dedicated to a carousel, only in a few large enclosed
fairs, mainly in seaside towns. Only one I know had fencing around the
ride itself, and that was Botton Bros. beach fair at Great Yarmouth
(87-key Gavioli). The fence was erected for safety. Everywhere else,
the public can stand close to the revolving ride completely unhindered.
It is even common for people to jump onto a still-revolving ride just
before it stopped, simply to secure a seat for the next ride. One
machine in particular, the steam-powered carousel in Carter's
travelling fair (65-key Gavioli) slowed but never actually stopped
turning, while there was a rush for seats.
John Page (UK)