Conservation grant for National Fairground and Circus Archive

The National Fairground and Circus Archive (NFCA) has been awarded a conservation grant by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT) to conserve over 500 original fairground ride plans and drawings from the Orton and Spooner Collection.

Orton and Spooner were a British engineering company, which produced some of the most sophisticated and sought after rides, wagons and show fronts in the fairgrounds at the turn of the 19th century. The company gained an unrivalled reputation, making products of superior quality, finished by some of the best artists and carvers in the trade. Their work spanned from the 1890s to the 1950s and is at the heart of British fairground history.

Original Orton and Spooner rides surviving today are rare, and the drawings in the NFCA are the only remaining record of their existence.

We are very grateful to NMCT for investing on the future of the Orton and Spooner archive through this grant. The conservation of these works will ensure their survival for future generations.

ARANTZA BARRUTIA WOOD, NFCA COLLECTIONS MANAGER

The collection is a much sought after resource by researchers, however some sections of the collection have been inaccessible due to their fragility, which has prevented us from using it to its full potential.

The NMCT was established in 1990 by the British Library and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. Grants received go towards the cost of repair, binding and conservation and preservation of manuscripts which in the opinion of the Trustees are of historic or educational value.

As part of this project, the NCFA will be carrying out a digitisation exercise, which will enable worldwide online access to the collection. They are also planning a series of exhibitions and events involving researchers, peer heritage organisations and the Sheffield community.

Arantza Barrutia Wood, NFCA Collections Manager, said: “This collection has an extremely powerful potential to create connections with the community, the creative sector and scholars. Investing in its conservation and digitisation has always been a high priority for the NFCA and the generosity of NMCT is making possible to take the next step.

"We are very grateful to NMCT for investing on the future of the Orton and Spooner archive through this grant. The conservation of these works will ensure their survival for future generations. We look forward to embarking on this exciting project and exploring future opportunities.”

Orton and Spooner fairground ride drawing

The Orton and Spooner Collection

For more information about the collection, contact nfa@sheffield.ac.uk

Orton and Spooner Collection

Orton & Spooner ride design

Orton & Spooner ride plan drawing