Carters Steam Fair Maidenhead – Where it all Began [AD]
The Carters Steam Fair is a traditional fair that travels around the country. In fact, most people who I speak to have either heard of it or have been themselves.
It’s so unique and differs from your usual fair that has loud ‘booming’ music and scary ride attendants. No, this is a lovely family run fairground with vibrant original rides. They have been lovingly rescued and restored and kept in good working order to this day.
The Carters are a family local to the Maidenhead area. Back in the 1970’s, John Carter and his wife Anna bought the gallopers. These beautiful jubilee steam gallopers are quite different to a carousel as we know it. These are British horses that turn clockwise (where a carousel turns anti-clockwise). The ladies sit side saddle on the left, facing outwards. Perhaps thought because the British drive on the left hand side.
John Carter was a collector, loving old slot machines classic American cars, motorbikes and interesting vintage artefacts. When they had enough money saved he asked Anna if they should buy a house or the gallopers – and they chose to buy the gallopers, back in 1976.
That’s where it all began!
Disclaimer: I was gifted tokens to enjoy the rides for myself and my family. All the opinions and photos in this post are my own.
Family Run Carters Steam Fair
John and Anna took the steam fair on the road as they added more rides and games to their collection. They bought original classic and rare rides such as the Swing Boats and Dodgems which ranged from the 1890’s to the 1970’s. Anna restored the artwork.
Sadly John passed away from Hodgkins Lymphoma in December 2000, but Anna, their children and families kept the Carters Steam Fair going. Son Joby and his wife Georgina now manage the fair. Joby has also been responsible for some of the artwork on the rides and trucks, and runs sign writing courses at the yard in White Waltham, Maidenhead.
Joby also does talks about the history and artwork of the Carters Steam Fair before the weekend starts. He asks for a small donation which he donates to charity – the local Thames Hospice. He then takes you around the fair explaining how each ride has been restored and painted – all free hand. Once you see the details up close, you feel a great appreciation for this family run business.
The Greatest Showmen
The Carters Steam Fair travels around the South of England and other locations throughout the year. You’ll find the fair mainly in the summer months, but every November, close to Bonfire Night, the fair is in Maidenhead, Berks. There is always a fireworks display too.
In May, it is held at Pinkney’s Green, Maidenhead where the fair is launched by a morning parade. The vintage vehicles, traction engine and rare London bus parade around Maidenhead – known as the ‘Steam Spectacular’. Then finish on the Green where the weekend of fairground family fun begins – also with a fireworks display on the Saturday night.
The steam fair has also been featured in many films including Paddington 2, The Krays and The Theory of Everything. Plus muliple pop videos and the TV show Call The Midwife.
What Rides and Attractions are at the Fair?
Some of the rides include:
- Steam Gallopers
- Chair O Plane
- Jungle Thriller Ark
- Steam Yachts
- Lightning Skid (not to be mistaken for the Waltzers)
- Austin Cars
- Mini Octopus
- Ghost Train
- Hurricane Jets
- Whirl A-Round Twist
- Boat Ride
- Swing Boats
- Toy Town
- Train Ride
Then of course, all your classic games such as Hook a duck, shooting saloon and coconut shy to name a few. Plus all the foodie stalls you expect to find – hot dogs and candyfloss!
All the vehicles that pull the living wagons (that original showman lived in) have been restored and painted and proudly put on show.
Get Your Tokens
If you go online to the Carters Steam Fair website you can buy your tokens. If you get them before midnight (the day before the fair starts) you can get discounts.
However, entry is free and tokens can also be bought while you are there.