Edwards’ Super Chariot Racer

It is hard to believe that this ride was built over seventy years ago. It was one of the first generation of white knuckle rides and proved very popular back in the 1930s.

Robert Edwards ordered the ride new in 1934 at a cost of £1,750. It was delivered to Cheltenham railway station but to raise enough money to pay for its freight Robert Edwards had to open the ride in nearby St. Paul’s Street until he could pay the bill.

It was built in Burton on Trent by Messrs. Orton, Sons and Spooner, who were one of the country’s most prodigious roundabout manufacturers. The ride is 42 feet in diameter, plus the porch and steps, and was decorated in art deco ‘jazz’ style, popular in the 1930s.

R. Edwards’ Noah’s Ark before it was rebuilt as the Chariot Racer

Sid and Albert Howell painting the Chariot Racer in 1946.

After the war the ride was rebuilt with the massive Chariot Racer scene on the front boards. This was constructed at Ortons and painted by their artists, Sid and Albert Howell. Originally from Bristol, Howell senior was trained by William Spilsbury, one of the best known fairground scenery painters of his time.

The breathtaking Roman chariot racing scene was a popular image on these rides. This was one of the best examples ever executed and the only one of its kind to survive still in use.

The Chariot Racer was travelled by the Edwards family until 1991 when it was placed in store in Swindon until acquired by the Fairground Heritage Trust. It arrived at the site in 2006 and with the help of Frank Edwards, it was assembled within a fortnight of arriving at its new home, and opened to the public later that year.

R. Edwards & Sons’ Super Chariot Racer with the exciting Roman chariot racing scene painted by Sid Howell.