Christmas carousel from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang returns to Norwich

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Felix aged 4, Kimberley, Ted aged 6, Tom and Milo aged 2. Pictures: B

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Felix aged 4, Kimberley, Ted aged 6, Tom and Milo aged 2. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

Hundreds of people have clambered aboard a magical ride this Christmas, courtesy of one of the oldest surviving carousels in the country. 

The 40ft diameter Pride of the South Gallopers, best known for appearing in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, has been stationed outside the Forum in Norwich for weeks. 

And visitors have come in their droves to the delight of its owner - who was holding his breath after only being able to open for six days last year. 

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Amelia and Imogen Knee with Mum Lois Knee. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Amelia and Imogen Knee with Mum Lois Knee. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

John Downs, who owns and operates the 19th century ride, said: "Last year we were open for less than a week and then we got shut down because of Covid. 

"Coming back this year we didn't know what to expect but it's been brilliant. I can't give an exact number on how many people we've had but it's been really busy - especially before Christmas. 

"We travel around the country with the ride but what's lovely is that this year we've seen people who rode the ride as children coming back with their grandkids."

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Debbie Hare, enjoying the carousel. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Debbie Hare, enjoying the carousel. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

He added: "Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia. We've had some people asking us if it's for children only but everyone's invited to join us. 

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"Anyone who wants to have a bit of fun is more than welcome."

The merry go 'round hosts 36 horses suspended on polished, twisted brass poles, and was built by Frederick Savage of King's Lynn in the 1890s.

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

Each horse is named and people tend to gravitate towards moniker's they recognise, Mr Downs added. 

He explained: "There's not one particularly popular horse but people tend to spot a name they recognise, perhaps it's theirs or someone they know, and that's why they pick it. 

"I haven't got a favourite horse - there is one with my name on it though so I'm a bit biased towards that."

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Nick Knoble, Finley Knoble and Kelly Knoble. Pictures: Brittany Woodm

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Nick Knoble, Finley Knoble and Kelly Knoble. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

On whether the attraction will return next year, Mr Downs said: "I'd love to come back. This spot has been really brilliant for us - both because shoppers wander past and people come down from the theatre too - so we'll have to see what the plan for next year is."

The carousel will move on Sunday.

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Troy McKechnie and son Xavia. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Carousel fun at Norwich Forum. Troy McKechnie and son Xavia. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

- Who was Frederick Savage?

Frederick Savage of King's Lynn made this carousel in 1893.

Savage was born in Hevingham in 1828 and was the son of hand-loom weavers who later fell on hard times. 

Carousel.

The Pride of the South Gallopers carousel dates back to 1893. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

When steam power came to the county engineer-minded Frederick turned his attention to building carts, steam threshing machines and hoes.

From these he then graduated to self-moving engines. 

The statue of Frederick Savage on London Road in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The statue of Frederick Savage on London Road in King's Lynn. - Credit: Ian Burt

After working on many agricultural inventions Savage then moved onto engines for "pleasure" such as the Platform Gallopers - now known as a carousel. 

Hugely popular, the launch of this merry-go-round propelled him to create further rides such as Racing Peacocks, Jumping Cats and Flying Pigs. 

Such feats made Savage a household name - and he even has a statue in King's Lynn which was the only statue to a public man at the time.