Fair play;Discovery series;Discover fairs

3rd September 1999 at 01:00
(Photograph) - Ups and downs on the roller-coaster of time

c500 A Byzantine bas-relief depicts acrobats, jugglers, bears and spectators watching two riders suspended in baskets from a centre pole in what may be the earliest example of a roundabout.

1284 Edward I grants Nottingham Goose Fair a royal charter.

1849 Eleven-year-old Tom Thumb (real name Charles Sherwood Stratton) is brought to Britain by PT Barnum, the great American impresario. He is two feet one inch tall.

1861 Thomas Bradshaw opens first steam merry-go-round on the old Pot Market in Bolton, on New Year's Day.

1887 The first of three Buffalo Bill "Wild West" shows appears at Earl's Court in London. Buffalo Bill (real name William Cody) was a former Indian fighter, buffalo hunter and US army scout. The show includes sharp shooting displays, a Pony Express ride and a re-enactment of the capture of the Deadwood Stagecoach.

1929 The first Wall of Death ride appears in Britain. A popular feature in fairgrounds, this featured motorcyclists driving round the inside walls of a vertical cylinder. The biggest crowds were drawn to displays that featured full-grown animals (for instance, lions) riding in a sidecar.

1933 RJ Lakin of Streatham builds the first British Waltzer.

1955 Walt Disney opens the world's first theme park, Disneyland. Most of the amusements are based on Disney films and characters.

1994 Richard Rodriguez enters the record books after spending 549 hours non stop on the Big Dipper, the roller-coaster ride at the Pleasure Beach amusement park in Blackpool. During his 23-day marathon, he slept under a tarpaulin and covered more than 11,265km.

2000 Millennium Wheel opens in London. The wheel will turn at 26cm per second and take 30 minutes to rotate fully.

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