Image by James F Clay
Carters Steam Fair at Weston-super-Mare in August 2009.
This ride is one of the original white-knuckle thrill rides, and definately worth a ride if you like the more modern extreme rides of today.
The steam yachts were built by Savages of Kings Ling in 1921. The original boats were named Shamrock and Valerie. When the ride was first built it was travelled by Yorkshire showman Joe Ling, until his death in 1957. It was then purchased in 1958 by G & H Thompson of New Brighton, and then passed to Lancashire showman Walter Hackett by 1960. Mr Hackett removed the steam engine within the ride and converted the ride to diesel drive. In 1961 it was sold to the Scottish family Gamble, who travelled it until 1969 when it was scrapped and laid up in a Glasgow scrapyard until we purchased it in 1975. All of the essential parts were stored until 1982 and the fate of the original centre engine was unknown and presumed scrapped.
The engine currently in the yachts was originally built in 1901 for Waddingtons. The engine was put out of use in 1948 by Harry Lee after 47 years of continuous work. We purchased it in 1982. The Dean organ on the ride was commisioned by us as we wanted a strident organ for work on the fair. It was delivered in 1984 and has always been a good reliable organ.
We restored the yachts over the winters of 1982-1984. The engine had new tubes, new stays, rebuilt mudhole areas, and an extensive mechanical overhaul including new big ends, slides, and rabbit gear rebuild. A new chassis was also included in the restoration work, along with new chains, pins and underworks (ex WD). We built new legs and stays with wood imported from Canada. New trams, hills, steps and spindle turned gates were also made. The boats were built entirely by Chalkie White. The were many other new pieces of the ride made including front boards, pillars, nameboards, organ front and paydesk. The signwriting on the ride was completed by Chris Hopes, the decoration by John Pockett and the scenic paintings by Anna Carter. The whole machine was faithfully renewed by using the remaining patterns on the ride or by measuring Harry Lee’s Yachts. Mr Lee used to come down south to drive our machine for the first few seasons and he taught the young Carter boys how to drive it too.
It is now transported on 2 WW2 Eagle trailers. Work has continued on the ride over the years and these improvements include having the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes US flags being painted on the bottom of the boats by Joby Carter in 1996. Joby Carter operates this ride.