Sunday, 6 October 2013

Carter's Steam Fair and the Wall of Death.


Saturday night and I paid a visit to Carter’s Steam fair. Lots of stalls and rides powered by steam engines. Dodgems and a fine roundabout, it's a lot of fun.
It’s a unique collection from the 19th and early 20th centuries, lovingly saved from the scrap heap; restored, preserved and operated by the wonderful Carter family.

But the real reason I went was to see ‘Messhams Wall of Death’, which may well be the only one left in Britain.  It's over 80 years old and came over from America when the carnivals were at their peak of popularity. It's been operated by 5 generations of the same Messham family and it is not to be missed.

Here’s an 80 year old ‘Indian’ motorbike, brought over with the attraction when it was imported from America in the 1920’s. This one is just for show, but in the act the riders use an 'Indian' from 1929.


 And here they are getting set up. The white line is the cable that stops the bikes flying out of the ring and into the crowd and they need it:

After that my hands went all trembly and the bikes went too fast for a photo on my poor old camera. This is the best I could do;


 Mind you I just wanted to watch and the blur does give you an idea of how fast they go to stay up on the ‘wall’.

The three lads went round, trying to outdo each other with more and more daring and flash.

‘Look, no hands’

‘Look, no feet’

‘Look, no hands and no feet’

‘Look, no hands, no feet and I’m sitting sideways’

'Hey, I'm waving at you'

‘Look there are three of us at the same time , racing each other’.

It’s not an easy way to make a living – 2 years ago I saw them and the riders were a generation older with only one youngster starting things off. This time it’s all twenty somethings.

Phew, that was good.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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