The fabulous showman’s engine line up at the Great Dorset Steam Fair is World renown. For many visitors, these wonderful engines with their gleaming, twisted brass, really are the stars of our show standing proudly in front of the Old Time fairground rides and majestically lighting up the Great Dorset Steam Fair sky line.
It is indeed at night when the Showman’s Engines are really working hard generating power for the old rides and roundabouts to operate that the showground transforms into a magical electric city of lights and sounds. With the authentically re-created Victorian and 1920’s variety stage shows fronting the large fairground organs, it all makes for a fascinating spectacle which is widely recognised as unique in steam preservation circles.
The Old Time steam funfair at the Great Dorset Steam Fair includes two sets of Gallopers (carousels), Steam Yachts, Chair-o-Planes, Noah’s Ark, Skid, Cakewalk, Big Wheel and a Light House Slip.
Showman’s Engines are a variation of steam engine, adapted for showman’s use by the fitting of a dynamo on the front perch bracket; this is operated by a flat belt from the engine’s flywheel. The power is then used to drive and light up the old time fairground.
In commercial use, the larger Showman’s Engines (the Showman’s Road Locomotive) would have hauled the heavily laden trailers from show to show and some, fitted with crane jibs, would have been used to erect the rides. The smaller counterpart to these locomotives, known as Showman’s Tractors were useful for hauling support vehicles out on the road and powering lights in the fairground.
Over 60 Showman’s Engines appear at the Great Dorset Steam Fair each year.