Gallopers were a gift for Flora
Whilst researching the steam locomotive Oliver Cromwell and her time at Bressingham Steam Museum, coupled with a memorable family visit in August 1969, another fascinating story emerged about their magnificent set of Victorian Gallopers.
I learned that steam museum creator, the late Alan Bloom, acquired the set to fulfil a longstanding wish of his spouse Flora.
His cursory glance of Worlds Fair magazine in 1967 revealed a set for sale, in of all places, Fifeshire in Scotland, 435 miles distant.
The long trip was made, whereby the fairground owners had decided to sell, believing a more modern day ride with canned music would pay them better.
So with a deal done, they were delivered back to Bressingham.
To everyone’s surprise, historic research revealed the Gallopers were made locally by Frederick Savage of King’s Lynn in 1897, a company of worldwide repute for its fairground machinery and a mere 45 miles from Bressingham.
Originally owned by Norfolk’s Thurston family until 1934, the Gallopers found their way to Scotland via the famed Whitley Bay ( Tyne and Wear) Funfair, dubbed ‘The Spanish City’ in ‘Dire Straits’ hit classic, Tunnel of Love.
Back in their home county, several months of intricate restoration work followed to return the Gallopers to their original glory.
By the summer of 1968 they were again up and running. The Tidman centre engine, already at Bressingham, was their driving force and music was provided by the German-built Bruder organ.
As a testimonial to their local makers, the legend proudly displayed on the running board read: “The Bressingham Steam Roundabouts, Built by Norfolk Craftsmen when Victoria was Queen.”
Writing this piece 50 years on since the Gallopers came home to Norfolk, is done with admiration, reflecting how this magnificent ride has given so much pleasure to thousands of visiting families over the years. Long may it continue.
The Victorian Gallopers at Bressingham.