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Vast collection of fairground memorabilia to be sold at auction

Auctioneers were ‘shocked at the scale’ of the collection of fairground memorabilia going under the hammer (Cheffins/PA)
Auctioneers were ‘shocked at the scale’ of the collection of fairground memorabilia going under the hammer (Cheffins/PA)

The family of a prolific collector of vintage fairground memorabilia are to sell his lorryloads of items, including galloper horses, wooden swing boats and pedal cars, at auction.

The late Roger Austin, of Raunds in Northamptonshire, started buying pieces in the 1980s and had amassed more than 750 by the peak of his collection.

Mr Austin, who ran a car salvage business, started by collecting Scammell lorries and then progressed to collecting fairground rides to go with them.

His son, Robert Austin, 42, said: “Dad came from a council house estate, brought up by his grandparents, and there were no trips to the English seaside for the family, so when the fair came to town it was the closest thing he ever got to a holiday.

“For lots of children in those days, when the fair rolled in that was the most exciting few days of the year, and it was his nostalgia from these happiest moments of his childhood which really drove him to start collecting items from the golden days of the fairground.”

He said the fairground has been a “massive part of our lives and we now feel it’s right to pass the custodianship of these pieces to others than can get as much joy from them as my family and I have”.

Auctioneers were 'shocked at the scale' of the collection of fairground memorabilia to be sold at auction. (Cheffins/ PA)
The vast collection of fairground memorabilia includes galloper horses (Cheffins/PA)

Mr Austin said some of the bigger rides have already been sold and the family will be keeping two fibreglass horses that his father made.

More than 100 lots of vintage fairground memorabilia will go under the hammer at Cheffins in Cambridgeshire on July 22 and 23, and they are anticipated to fetch £20,000 in total.

The auctioneers will be selling more than 300 pieces in total, and have split them across three separate sales, with the first having taken place last year.

Jeremy Curzon, a consultant at Cheffins, said: “Roger Austin would buy lorry loads of fairground memorabilia at a time.

“He would load up lorry bodies with the pieces, which he bought from fellow enthusiasts, fairgrounds which were updating rides, or fairgrounds which were closing down.

“He would scour the country for the best in vintage fairground items, and quite frequently not even unpack the lorries.

“Rather, the lorry bodies were left in the barn, packed with wooden gallopers or rounding boards, dating from the 1930s to the 1970s and 1980s.

“When we came across the collection, we were shocked at the scale of it.

“This has got to be the biggest sale of its type in recent memory.

“In fact, the collection is so enormous, we are offering it over three different sales, 100 lots at a time, so as not to flood the market.

“These types of items don’t often become available for sale, and I would expect some of the rarer pieces to reach well into four figures.

“There may in fact be further discoveries to be made in the barns.”

– The auction will take place at Cheffins Machinery Sale Ground in Sutton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire.