The Fairground Heritage Trust, operators of Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre, are delighted to announce it has been awarded £90,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) to help safeguard Shaw’s Moonrocket, the only historic thrill ride of its kind still fully intact and functioning.
The money from NHMF launches the Trust’s fundraising appeal to raise the final £17000 to secure this unique piece of fairground heritage.
Built in the 1930s, the Moonrocket was the ground-breaking forerunner to the white knuckle rides now a staple of theme parks and fairgrounds across the world. It represents an era when speed, thrills and excitement were the height of fashion. Streamlined excitement for a streamlined age
The 1930’s saw rapid advances in the field of technology and, together with the record breaking exploits of Amy Johnson, Captain George Eyston, John Cobb and Sir Malcolm Campbell, these advances excited a general appetite for speed, travel and ‘the future’.
At the same time the UK was experiencing the effects of a prolonged global economic depression and suffering mass unemployment. The Moonrocket was a response to this and the need for escapism.
Riders sit in rocket shaped cars rotated at 12rpm on a sloped base. At the same time the centre, which had a carved figure riding a rocket, rotated the opposite way at 6rpm, giving an illusion of a dizzying 24rpm to the riders.
Shaw’s Moonrocket was ordered by showman John Shaw in 1938 and built by Robert Lakin and Co Ltd of Streatham, London, with Maxwells of Musselburgh supplying various engineering parts. The Moonrocket as a ride type had almost vanished from fairgrounds by the 1960s, but Shaw’s carried on operating until 1984.
It was purchased by the late Howard Maden and what followed was one of the most comprehensive restoration jobs ever undertaken, with retention of the 1960s decoration. It stands as a lasting tribute to Howard, who passed away in 2012.
Currently for sale on the open market, the Trust needs to raise a further £17,000 to secure this iconic and unique thrill ride. As with all items of this kind that go on sale, there is the potential that it could be lost to the nation forever. If the Trust is successful, the ride will be open to the public at Dingles Fairground Centre, Devon next year.
The public can help save the Moonrocket by texting RCKT10 £10 to 70070 or by visiting the crowdfunding page at www.justgiving.com/fairgroundheritage.