Children’s Rides

Arthur Swift’s Children’s Roundabout

Arthur Swift’s children’s ride possibly dates from before the First World War, and was probably new as a dobby set, with little wooden horses for children to sit on.

It was built in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire, by William Henry Halstead, who claimed to be the “originator of the juvenile novelty and machine roundabouts.” He was also the dealer who supplied Robert Edwards with his fullsize Galloping Horses in 1916.

The exact age of the ride is not known, but it travelled in Lancashire and West Yorkshire for many years owned by Arthur Swift. Many of the toys on it, such as the rocket and the liner Queen Elizabeth were built by Arthur himself.

The ride was placed in store when Arthur Swift died in the 1970s and remained in a yard at Farnworth, near Bolton, until it was acquired by Michael Smith in 1998.

Walter Shaw’s Happy Caterpillar

The Happy Caterpillar was built in 1968 by George Maxwell & Son, one of the best known ride builders of the post-war period. It was travelled for many years by Walter Shaw, who was based in Lancashire, but whose family travelled on both sides of the Pennines. Walter’s father and grandfather were both travelling showmen, originally based in Sheffield.

It was often looked after by Walter’s daughter, Christina Shaw, and later passed to her husband, Anthony Harris, Past-President of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain.

Very few of these rides were built, but they were always popular with young children, and this example has been at the museum since 2012.