Anderton & Rowland Collection
George DeVey with his wagon in the 1900s.
Albert Haslam was an illusionist who travelled under the stage name of Professor Anderton, and his son, Arthur, became an intrepid lion tamer known as Captain Rowland. Together they travelled a show presenting magic and animal acts.
Later they founded the firm of Anderton & Rowland which still presents fairs in the West Country today. One of the directors of the firm, Simon DeVey, has served as a trustee of the F.H.T.
His family’s collection includes his greatgrandfather’s living wagon, built before the Great War by Orton, Sons and Spooner for George DeVey Snr, who married Martha Haslam, Professor Anderton’s daughter in 1902. The address given on their marriage certificate is the house in Picton Street, Bristol, where Cary Grant later grew up.
The living wagon was passed down the generations and is no owned by Simon’s aunt, Delcia Phipps.
The Grand Organ from the Scenic Dragons was built in Paris by the organ-builders Charles Marenghi et Cie and brought over to Britain by George DeVey in 1911, originally for the Gondola Switchback, a ride similar to our own Rodeo Switchback, and later used in their Golden Dragon Scenic Railway. It is still in an original truck, built by Orton, Sons & Spooner.
In the 1940s Anderton & Rowland bought four special ‘Showtrac’ vehicles brand new from Scammells of Watford. Three of them are still owned by members of the DeVey family. Gladiator and Dragon are both in working condition, whilst John Bull awaits restoration.
In 2008, with the full support of the family, the Trust published the history of Anderton & Rowland: Illusion and Reality, which has helped raise funds towards the restoration of exhibits at the Centre.
When Anderton & Rowland first had the organ it was used in their
Gondola Switchback, as shown here
When they took delivery of the Golden Dragons it was placed in a
larger truck to be used in the centre of the new ride.
After the Scenic Railway went off the road it was put in store but
during the war it was moved to a safer location and after the war
brought back into use briefly with their Dodgems
Anderton & Rowland’s Grand Organ is still owned by the family and
is played on special occasions at the Centre. It still has much or its
original music, and the original switchboard, seen on the right.
Charles Heal’s Collection
If an Englishman’s home was his castle, then he showman’s home was a Palace on Wheels. This living wagon was built for Bristol showman Charles Heal by Orton and Spooner.
One of Bristol’s best-known showman was Charles Heal. He was born in Glastonbury in 1879, and by 1908 was the proprietor of a steam roundabout.
Mr and Mrs Charles Heal outside their living wagon.
Charles Heal married Agnes Young in Bristol in 1899, and together built up a good business, travelling one of the most biggest and most splendid sets of Galloping Horses in the country. It travelled until the 1930s to be followed by a number of modern rides, including a Noah’s Ark, Skid and Moonrocket.
Charles’ living wagon was built by Orton, Sons and Spooner, and was one of the best of its type. It is said that the firm would only make wagons for their regular customers as there was no profit margin on them. This is easy to see when you inspect the detail in the workmanship and the delicate paintings inside the wagon. Outside they were finished in a minimum of nine coats of Burton lake, made specially by Bergers.
The living wagon is on loan from the Heal family along with their early Scammell ‘The Rocket’ which worked with Heal’s rides. They are both a fitting tribute to one of the biggest fairground concerns in the country.
Inside Charles Heal’s sumptuous living wagon.
Charles Heal’s Scammell ‘The Rocket’.