Carters Steam Fair


Carters Steam Fair (no apostrophe is used in the name) is a travelling vintage fair. Founded in 1977[1] by John Carter (1942–2000), this family business is now managed by the second generation of Carters.

Carters Steam Fair
Home base / winter quartersAdjacent to White Waltham Airfield, near Maidenhead, Berkshire
CountryUnited Kingdom
FoundersJohn and Anna Carter
OperatorsThe Carter Family and associates
Number of ridesAround 19 (dependent on site/ location)
John Carter

Carters operate and maintain a large collection of vintage rides and sidestalls, ranging in date from the 1870s to the 1960s, and every season they are travelled with vintage heavy lorries and traditional showmen's living wagons. The fair provides an opportunity to enjoy historic equipment and artwork.[2]

Their operating base and restoration workshops are immediately adjacent to White Waltham Airfield, near Maidenhead, in Berkshire.

Steam-powered gallopers (left); steam yachts (right)

Carters is now on its last season as a travelling funfair and is for sale, they are now looking for a new custodian to continue their work.[citation needed]

Rides and attractionsEdit

201604101256 Chelmsford Central Park Carters Steam Fair Swingboats
Steam Boats aka Steam Yachts at Prospect Park

Carters Steam Fair is a travelling collection of rare working funfair rides, As at April 2016, currently touring rides with the Fair are:

Ride Height Restriction
Austin Cars Suitable for pre-school children up to the age of about 6 or 7 only
Train Ride There are no height restrictions, so adults may travel with younger children, if required
Toytown Suitable for toddlers and pre-school children up to the age of 5 or 6
Mini Octopus Suitable for toddlers and pre-school children up to the age of 5 or 6
Scenic Dobbies Suitable for toddlers and pre-school children up to the age of 5 or 6
Big Swingboats Must be over 1.1 metres (3.6 feet) tall to ride
Little Swingboats No
Jubilee Steam Gallopers No
Jungle Thriller Ark No
Chair-o-Plane Must be over 1.1 metres (3.6 feet) tall to ride
Steam Yachts Must be over 1.05 metres (3.4 feet) tall to ride middle yellow seats, all other seats may be ridden by anyone over 1.2 metres (3.9 feet)
Dive-Bomber Must be over 1.1 metres (3.6 feet) tall only when accompanied by an adult, or those over 1.3 meters (4.2 feet) unaccompanied
Giant Octopus Must be over 1.1 metres (3.6 feet) tall to ride
Dodgems Must be over 1.1 metres (3.6 feet) tall to ride
Autodrome No

Switch from cash to tokensEdit

Harry Hill, as depicted on the Carters Steam Fair 2015 issue coin token

In 2014, Carters Steam Fair moved from taking cash payments at each attraction to a token coin system. As at April 2016, there have been two distinct minting productions featuring different designs. Both designs feature the representation of a Galloper ride horse on the reverse, along with the texts "Carters Steam Fair", "No cash value", and "No refund value" around the image on the coin's edge. Additionally, the text "1 Token" appears across the horse's neck horizontally in a rectangular box. All text is presented in block letters.

2014 Token ObverseEdit

The obverse of the 2014 coin token features a representation of the comedian Harry Hill, wearing a paper Christmas cracker hat. Originally Hill was going to design an image himself for this first minting, but in the event he was also about to put on a stage show and was too busy to fit it in and so with his blessing, Carters put his portrait on the coin instead.

2015 Token ObverseEdit

The obverse of the 2015 coin token features a representation of the late John Carter, who in 1977, along with his wife Anna, purchased the Steam Gallopers, and thus started what was to become Carters Steam Fair.[1]

In popular cultureEdit


A number of die-cast models featuring the name of and / or reproducing vehicles used by Carters Steam Fair have been produced;

  • Corgi Toys released a limited edition Morris 1000 in 1995 as part of their Corgi Classics range, named "Advanced Publicity Van Set: Carters Steam Fair", in 1:43 scale. 14,300 were produced and distributed worldwide. This model came with a ‘Seafood Stall Kit’.[3][4]
  • Oxford Diecast released a Morris J San Remo Ice Cream Van during 2014, registration "WLD 759", based on the Carters full-size vehicle, and in 1:76 scale.[5][6]
A line-up of showman's engines, Pinkney's Green (May 2007)


  • Antiques Roadshow, Series 29, Episode 2 (BBC, 2006)[7]
  • Fairground Attractions (Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd, 2014)[8][9]
  • Midsomer Murders (ITV, 2015)[10]
  • Great British Railway Journeys, Series 7, Episode 20
  • Wurzal Gummidge, BBC Series, 2019[10]


External audio
Audio soundscape of Carters Steam Fair
  Carters Steam Fair visits Hersham in Surrey: among the general background hubbub, rock'n'roll plays on a waltzer ride while a barrel organ plays in front of a dive-bomber ride.
From here retrieved 23 June 2010

The Fair has been featured in many films[10] including;


The Kaiser Chiefs' Meanwhile Up in Heaven music video was filmed on the fair in 2014.[10]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

Bartrip, P.W.J., The state and the steam boiler in Britain International review of social history 25, 1980, 77–105, Government intervention and the role of interest groups in 19th Century Britain in regard to stationary boilers.

David Whyley Austin automobiles, 1998, Volume looks at Austin children's pedal cars of the 1950s, including the Pathfinder racing model, illustrated with manufacturer's photographs.

Adrian G. Shaw with Anna Carter, A season with Carters Steam Fair, words by Anna Carter, soft-cover book of black and white photography by Adrian G Shaw, documenting a season on the road with Carters Steam Fair, 60 pages, paperback, illustrated throughout.

Paul Braithwaite, Arcades and slot machines: with an A-Z of British manufacturers, 1870–1970; edited by John Carter; photography by Brian Steptoe., White Waltham:Carters Books 1997, Lists known makers between 1870 and 1970 and describes particular models, features photographs from Carters Steam Fair's arcade machine collection, 105 pages, paperback, illustrated throughout.

Paul Braithwaite, John Carter's Jubilee Steam Gallopers: a souvenir of one hundred years of riding for pleasure!, With John Carter. The story of Carters Jubilee Steam Gallopers, from manufacture to the present day, including detailed information and illustrations of its restoration and history, Maidenhead:J. Carter and Sons, 1995, 64 pages, paperback, illustrated throughout, ISBN (pbk.) BNB GB9589409.

Paul Braithwaite, Swings, Park Swings, Overboats and Over The Tops, Edited by John Carter. Covers the style and manufacture of these types of fairground rides, Maidenhead:J. Carter and Sons, 1996, 28 pages, paperback, illustrated throughout, ISBN (pbk.) BNB GBA336684.

Kevin Scrivens, Carters Jungle Thriller: The lost ark / compiled by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith, The story of Carters Jungle Thriller Ark, illustrated with clear photographs of the restoration process and the build-up of the ride, Maidenhead: Carters Books, 2006, 37 pages, paperback, illustrated throughout, ISBN (pbk.) BNB GBA907362

Anna Carter, Carters: No 1 For Family Fun, Introducing Carters Steam Fair, from its history to its rides. 40 pages, paperback, illustrated throughout.

John Carter and Anna Carter, Putting fun back into funfair, Maidenhead: Carters Steam Fair, 1994?


  1. ^ a b "About Carters Steam Fair". Carters Steam Fair Official Site.
  2. ^ "Carters Rides & Attractions". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Corgi 06601 1/43 Morris 1000 Carters". Osborn's Models. 5 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Corgi 06601 Carters Morris Minor Van – Diecast Devon". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Oxford Diecast Morris J Ice Cream San Remo Carters Steam Fair – 1:76 S". OxfordDiecast. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  6. ^ "More J-type model news : J-Type Van". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Carters Steam Fair, Series 29, Antiques Roadshow – BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Fairground Attractions". Channel 5. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  9. ^ "rare-pedal-cars-join-superb-steam-fair-fleet". Classic and Sportscar.
  10. ^ a b c d "Carters Ride and Fair Hire". Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Elton John's World Was Built From the Ground Up for Rocketman". Retrieved 13 February 2021.

External linksEdit

  • Carters Steam Fair official website
  • Joby Carter's official website
  • Signwriting courses by Joby Carter
  • [Reader's Digest] Article on Carters Steam Fair
  • [BBC] Article on Carters Steam Fair and the term "freak" 27 September 2005
  • [BBC] Incredible skill of old-fashioned fairground signwriter (BBC 17 July 2013) – featuring the work of Joby Carter as a signwriter.
  • The Society of Independent Roundabout Proprietors Official website
  • National Fairground Archive page for Fairground Art
  • Entertainment of Yesteryear website page for Chair-o-Plane ride

External links – VideoEdit

  • [YouTube] Video: Carters Steam Fair YouTube Channel
  • [YouTube] Video of Carters Steam Fair @ Alton Towers Feb 2007
  • [YouTube] Video: White knuckle Chair-o-Planes
  • [YouTube] Video of a Chair-O-Plane Ride (Ground View)
  • [YouTube] Video: Restoring the Lightning Skid – Behind the Scenes at Carters Yard