Monday, 15 March 2010

Steam Yachts and Mystic Swings

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Steam Yachts

Steam Yachts (1888)

An inventive collaboration between an engineer and musician, the Steam Yachts were part of the great 'industrial revolution' on the English fairground. The ride is also credited as being the first 'white knuckle' experience, since the theory goes that as the boat swings through the 180 degree points you have to hold on or fall off. A few examples survive as vintage (though still frightening) experiences.

Mystic Swing

Mystic Swing (1930s)

An illusion ride that played with the senses, particularly the fear of going upside down. The hexagonal structure rocked from side to side, however the external 'skin' of the ride spun through complete circles. The riders were enclosed in a darkened space on sedate seats, with living room style accompaniments set in place. The rotating external structure was painted with luminous symbols, giving the impression that the passengers were going up the wall and over the ceiling.

Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

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