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Amusement Parks

What date was the Merry-Go-Round invented?


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October 20, 2012 5:49PM

The first example of the Merry-Go-Round, or Carousel was in Paris in 1605. They were developed in Italy though. These usually took place in squares or large courtyards, and consisted of elaborately costumed riders and horses (usually from the cavalry) performing choreographed routines such as forming shapes together, riding in lines criss-cross against each other. They often took place at night, with riders carrying torches, and were accompanied by music. for more info go here:

The fairground machine called a Merry-go-Round or (in America) Carousel was developed in the 19C when practical power-units made them viable. Merry-Go-Round is generally the public's, not trade's, name.

In the UK fair trade at least, they were and are known generically as "rides", and more specifically by a descriptive or trade-name. The traditional ride with horse and cockerel "sculptures" as seats arranged to rise and fall as the machine rotates, is called a "Galloper".

Initially they were driven by a small steam "centre-engine" on the truck that forms the machine's base on the fairground, and the transport trailer for travelling between fairs. Later rides became powered electrically, from a generator first on the steam "Showman's Road Locomotive" (large, powerful traction-engine) that towed the ride from town to town; then on lorries that performed, and still perform, the same duty.

Typically they were fitted with a "self-playing" organ - using mechanical perforated-card readers to control the stops and notes - for the role now taken by the disco sound-system on modern rides. However the name "steam organ" for these instruments is a complete misnomer, for although they may have been powered by an auxiliary steam-engine the pipes always used only air.

British rides always run from right to left as you watch them. American (& I think Continental European) rides traditionally go from left to right.