Just three miles south of Devon’s Roadford Lake is Dingles, a complete working fairground with rides dating from the 1920s to the 1970s and housed in two giant hangers. Never was a heritage centre so much fun. Music and coloured lights set the atmosphere as the riders scream on Moon Rocket, the ultimate 1930s white-knuckle ride, while Harry Tuby’s Victory Horses roundabout is a little more sedate – built in 1920, it is resplendent in its original colours and wooden horses.
Every ride has its own history, explained on an information board. The Ghost Train was built in 1947 and owned by Joe Stevens, son-in-law of Billy Smart of circus fame; it has its original decoration which contains some fantastic and amusing cartoon scenes. The Super Chariot Racer was one of the first white-knuckle rides and proved very popular in the 1930s, costing £1,750 to build. Decorated with a Roman chariot theme, it is as scary today as it was nearly a hundred years ago. Then there are the Super Dodgems which date from 1932 and toured England until 1980. A contemporary newspaper described the dodgems as ‘A game of indoor motoring, in which collisions call forth no bad language’.
There are so many rides, as well as traditional sideshows and even the caravans used by the showmen as they toured the country. In 2021 a new shop and café were added, much of the work being carried out by passionate volunteers. It is a wonderful place, we loved our time there and will be back; don’t miss it.