Ian Waller and his family enjoy a visit to the wonderfully traditional Carters Steam Fair, now visiting Victoria Park in Bath
Soaring above Victoria Park in a jet plane piloted by my seven year old son to a back drop of the rock n roll music of Jerry Lee Lewis wasn’t what I was expecting on this glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, but there was no denying it was a huge amount of fun.
The backdrop to this family treat was a visit to Carters Steam Fair, an incredibly popular attraction bringing historic and traditional fair ground rides to Bath and offering a great family experience in the process.
OK, if the truth be told, I’m not a great fan of fun fairs, the modern versions at least – I generally find them loud, garish and just not a lot of, well, fun. How different it was this time. Carters is a far more welcoming, traditional and just generally enjoyable experience, with none of the sense of neon, booming bass madness, and instead a friendly team running the attractions and a real sense of tradition throughout. Surrounding the wonderfully painted rides is a backdrop of period caravans, lorries and even a real steam engine at the very heart of the fun to power the elegant steam yachts.
Having purchased our tokens, which are used instead of cash to pay for each ride, we left it up to our seven year old to pick the first ride. He headed straight for the Hurricane Jets which dates back to 1955 and allows pilots of all ages to soar up and down in the two seater aeroplanes, giving us a great view of the rest of the fair and surrounding park. Joe and I loved this most gentle of thrill rides, with the music of the rocker Jerry Lee selected for the inflight entertainment.
Back on the ground, it was time for a quick visit to the candy floss stand, before our next ride, this time with Joe’s mum joining in the fun. The Lightning Skid might have dated from 1965, but it soon had all three of us laughing and shouting out as we whizzed and spun around, with a pedal – quickly commandeered by Joe – adding a small of control to the madness.
We were all loving the visit. In between rides we had the chance to just wander around and soak up the atmosphere, checking out the historic rides in the process. At the centre is the still steam-driven Steam Yachts, dating back to the 1920s, while around it you’ll find dodgems from the 1980s, an Austin Cars from the 1940s, a good old ghost train from the 1960s and wonderful Jubilee Steam Gallopers, complete with carved horses from way back in 1910.
Our next stop was a chance for Joe to ride the Chairoplane, which was thought to have been imported from Germany in the 1920s. While Joe wished around in his chair, swinging further and further out as the ride speeded up, his mum and I sat on the grass snapping away for the precious family memories.
With a coconut shy still waiting, ice creams to try and a temptation to try our luck on the ‘test your strength’ machine, as well as loads more rides, we were already planning a return visit later this week. And perhaps that might just mean another candy floss treat all around.
If you are planning a visit, you can claim two free rides with the exclusive readers offer on page 33 of the July/August issue of The Bath & Wiltshire Parent.
Carters Steam Fair will be in Victoria Park Bath until 19 August.