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Swingboats used to be a common sight in small fairs around Britain in the 1800s and first half of the 20th century, up until the desire for 'new' and 'fast' began to take hold after WWII. Before that time, swingboats were so common and popular amongst showfolk that it gave root to a phrase: "The fair is in full swing." Ambitious showmen often bought a set of swings as a stepping-stone towards owning a large ride. Nowadays there are only a few working examples left.

A gentle swing for two, operated by the riders pulling ropes, they are surprisingly popular at Carters Steam Fair, which has an adult and a juvenile example. As with all traditional fairs, Carters Steam Fair had always travelled with a set of swingboats. They're the most modest rides we operate. They're not the biggest earner, but they're popular… and what could be greener than a ride you operate yourself?

The smaller set, the White Waltham High Flyers, are a juvenile set that has been with the family for years. We found the larger, adult set – the Park Swings – in a showman's yard in Watford, rotting and in terrible condition.

Made by Thomas of Chertsey, the Park Swings are a very fine example, with beautiful chamfered legs. They build up similar to building a barn, and they're about as heavy. The boats were rotten, so a whole new set were made using the originals as patterns. Joby Carter painted them as close to the original paintwork as he could, with handsome scrolls and lining reminscent of carriage decoration (Thomas of Chertsey also built carriages and living wagons as well as a number of fairground devices).

We also have an even smaller set for young children with 8' legs that is available to hire for children's parties and events.

Want to know more about swingboats? Buy the book here

Who can ride, and what does it cost?
The swings travelling with the fair come in two sizes: the Park Swings (adult swingboats suitable for riders over 1.1m tall) and the White Waltham High Flyers (juvenile swingboats suitable for any age so adults can ride with children). They cost 4 tokens per person. Prices may be subject to change.

Buy tokens in advance online, and get FREE RIDES!

Hire the Swingboats
If you are interested in hiring the Swingboats, we have a variety of options - adult swings (the Park Swings), and two sets of juvenile swings (the White Waltham High Flyers and our set of four-bay swings). Please click here for more information. The Swingboats take about 2-3 hours to build up. The juvenile swings have a footprint of approximately 43 x 13 feet and a height of about 17 feet; the adult swings have a footprint of about 49 x 19 feet and a height of approximately 21 feet. Please be aware that you will need a good level ground and clear enough access to get a lorry on to the site (any gate must be minimum of 10 feet wide).


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