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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Top Scan

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Top Scan


Top Scan (2000)


The first 'million pound' ride caused a huge queue on the M1 as drivers stopped to look at it during a night-time test run in Derbyshire. Considered the most progressive and aggressive thrill on the fairground, the Top Scan launches and twists its riders in every direction. This ride emerged at the end of the quest to start sending the 'spin and spew' rides from the 1980s into an upside down orbit. The question remains... what next?


That concludes our walk through the history of fairground rides to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week. If you are interested in learning more about roller coaster engineering stop by the National Fairground Archive at Western Bank Library where the staff are happy to help.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Booster

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Booster


Booster (2001)


The modern propeller ride - evolving higher and faster - born on the European fairgrounds with Italian and Dutch companies pushing the envelope. The rotating gondola makes an axis-based g-force calculation less than straightforward, though the passengers can certainly feel the forces as the speed of the ride increase. This ride is an indication of the shape of things to come...






Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Super Loops and the Top Spin

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Super Loop


Super Loop (1981)


This ride was a continuous track portable Roller Coaster - simply a circular loop with a train that gained momentum up and down the track in the same way that a skateboarder 'carves' a half-pipe. The motion was gained by masses of plastic rollers which had a habit of coming loose and cascading down. Experimental from the word go, the ride had a poor record in the UK and quickly disappeared from the scene.


Top Spin


Terminator / Top Spin (1994)


The Top Spin was a quantum leap forward in styling, with a 'Terminator' version holding the ground at Hull fair in 1994. The machine resembled a huge robot and was drenched in smoke and strobes - the riders seemed to be in the grip of a wild machine with its own mind rather than a showman pressing program buttons. Part of the ride pattern involved leaving riders suspended upside down as long as possible - the chequer plate platforms getting spraying with falling coins.


Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Enterprise and Pirate Ships

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Enterprise


Enterprise (1979)


A classic ride developed in a superb aesthetic style, and indicative of the high-level of competition between German manufacturers at the end of the 1970s. The Enterprise, themed on the TV series 'Star Trek', was a good example of a looping ride that used the forces generated by centripetal acceleration to allow the passengers to loop without the need for heavy lap-bar or shoulder-harness restraints. The speed and diameter was just enough to allow this to happen, giving the rider an exciting and almost surreal experience.


Pirate Ship


Pirate Ship (1980)


The Pirate Ship was again a result of the competition between German engineers to create a large-scale dynamically-appearing attraction that went through a 360 degree loop - essentially rebuilding of the 1930s Looper ride. The antique theming provided a clash of time-zones, but the ride was a huge success.


Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Roller Coasters - Simple and Complex

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Roller Coaster - Simple Loop


Roller Coasters - Simple Loop (1979)


Blackpool Pleasure Beach installed the first looping coaster in the UK, using the teardrop shaped elliptical loop developed for parks in the US. The installation of this ride was a landmark in the UK, paving the way for Corkscrew rides the following year, then a whole thrill network of floorless coasters, standing coasters, launched coasters, etc.


Roller Coaster - Complex


Roller Coasters - Complex (post 1990)


The current terrain of roller coasters is hard to quantify - process on a world-wide scale occurs literally monthly, with whatever seemed impossible quickly coming into fruition. Current trends are for 'linear induction motors' which provide a lightning fast acceleration (or braking), minimised restraints, and gruelling, twisting track layouts.


Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Loopers and Dive Bombers

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Looper


Looper (1937)


The Looper (or Loop-o-plane) used a clutch and friction method to gain a swinging motion towards and through 360 degrees. This was the ultimate playground thrill, the myth of going over the top, here for everyone to experience. The slow speed of performing the loop meant that the riders had to be secured with a good belting system – as the ride painstakingly crawled towards the vertical you were literally strung upside down. This ride paved the way for the generation of looping 'Pirate Ships' that emerged in the 1980s.


Dive Bomber


Dive Bomber (1939)


The first truly frightening machine? The Dive Bomber was invented in the US by flight engineers Eyerly, and came to the UK for a debut at Blackpool. The Second World War curtailed production and effectively put people off the ride for the immediate years after the war, since no-one wanted to be reminded of the blitz. However, the ride slowly gained a reputation as a classic thriller, and paved the way for the modern-day Booster.


Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Steam Yachts and Mystic Swings

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is part of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Steam Yachts






Steam Yachts (1888)



An inventive collaboration between an engineer and musician, the Steam Yachts were part of the great 'industrial revolution' on the English fairground. The ride is also credited as being the first 'white knuckle' experience, since the theory goes that as the boat swings through the 180 degree points you have to hold on or fall off. A few examples survive as vintage (though still frightening) experiences.

Mystic Swing


Mystic Swing (1930s)


An illusion ride that played with the senses, particularly the fear of going upside down. The hexagonal structure rocked from side to side, however the external 'skin' of the ride spun through complete circles. The riders were enclosed in a darkened space on sedate seats, with living room style accompaniments set in place. The rotating external structure was painted with luminous symbols, giving the impression that the passengers were going up the wall and over the ceiling.


Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.



Sunday, 14 March 2010

Upside-Down Entertainment - Part 3

As part of 2010’s National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is Part 3 (Part 1 and Part 2) of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Bomber Mark 2



The looping roller coaster originated as a bold experimental device in 1846 at Frascati Gardens, running as an isolated example for a few seasons. A follow-up device had an accident on its trial run, and so the concept was put on ice. It took until 1975 for the loop to re-enter the roller coaster equation, with Swiss company Intamin joining forces with Germany's Schwarzkopf to build a coaster for the US Six Flags theme Park. The UK joined the craze with Blackpool's Arrow-built 'Revolution' in 1979 – these machines utilising an elliptical 'tear-drop' shaped loop. The Corkscrew provided another method for looping, with 1980 examples at Alton Towers and Whitley Bay.

The 1980s onwards has seen huge developments in both looping fairground rides and looping roller coasters. G-forces are calculated in both the negative and positive, for a combination of all the axes through the body (head to toe, front to back, side to side), with thresholds touched for sustained and instant forces. The fears of this unknown have been banished, the only remaining doubt existing in the mind of the onlooker on whether to take a ride, and the gentle reminder to secure all loose change and valuables. Meanwhile the engineers search for the next thrill…

Check back tomorrow for more and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Upside-Down Entertainment - Part 2

As part of 2010's National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is Part 2 (see Part 1) of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

The Revolution



Braithwaite's "Fairground Architecture" defines the origins of 'joy-riding' in terms of the replication of machines designed for resolving industrial problems and applying them to general amusement. This is seen as a dynamic expressing both the experimental joy of the technological engineer, and the desire of the 'riding public' to be entertained. However, development tended to be towards roundabouts rather than aerial devices.

The Steam Yachts were patented in 1888, the first large-scale ride based on a swinging mechanism, and generally considered as the first 'white knuckle' experience (based on the fact that you have to grip with all your strength). The Steam Yachts heaved slowly back and forth, tipping to the sideways point, and the rider had no choice other than to grip tightly.

US company Eyerly, who traded in pilot-training devices and utopian visions of flight-for-all, developed the next stage of looping. Their 'Loop-o-Plane' was patented in 1935 and their 'Roll-o-Plane' a few years later. The Loop-o-Plane utilised a swinging mechanism, as the transition to a 360 degree swing is realised slowly through friction and clutches. The Roll-o-Plane (or Dive Bomber) was an instant motorised drive through the full circle, though the cars ingeniously rotated on their own axis to avoid a prolonged upside down state. Groundbreaking, but terrifying, experiences.

Neither of these rides were updated until the late 1970s, when German engineers took on the challenge. Bremen based company Huss manufactured the large-scale looping Pirate Ship, effectively opening the floodgates for the genre. The 1980s and 1990s saw large amounts of these rides on the fairgrounds and parks.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3 and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Upside-Down Entertainment - Part 1

As part of 2010's National Science and Engineering Week the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive are celebrating the engineering feats of roller coasters and theme park rides. The following abstract is Part 1 of a mini-series on the history of going upside-down, compiled by Ian Trowell of the National Fairground Archive.

Victorian Fair



In much the same way that sceptics forecast an imminent death due to suffocation during the development of the open-topped motor vehicle approaching minor speeds in excess of 20mph, going 'upside down' has always been fraught with fears of what might actually happen when a person is projected and/or suspended upside down by a mechanical device.

As a counteraction to this, there has always been the nagging curiosity of whether it is possible to swing with such a force as to go 'completely over the top', and urban myths remain pervasive about the 'friend of a friend of a friend' who swung on the park swings with such furiousness (and the help of some strong pushers) that he (or she) actually went over the axle bar and survived to tell the tale.

At the turn of the 19th Century the fairground was taking on a new shape to express its reason for being in the provision of something new and exciting. Agricultural engineers had turned their hand to building vast mechanical devices and these whirring and clanking machines became the centre-piece of the fair. The world of the ever-opportunistic showmen, and the always ambitious ride engineers, began a heady process of thrill development increasing the speed and intensity of the experience, and soon provided the public with the first real chances to explore and enjoy the overcoming of this great fear – swinging through 360 degrees.

Early sketches suggest swings were a vital part of the pre-mechanical fairground, and even though such sketches suggest an over-abundance of festivity and freshly-nurtured thrill-seeking, there are no explicit reports of attempting (or indeed achieving) a swing through a complete circle.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 and remember that the NFA is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30 for anyone interested in seeing more of our NSEW activities.

Friday, 5 March 2010

National Science and Engineering Week

Infusion - Blackpool Pleasure BeachFor this year's National Science and Engineering Week (March 12th-21st) the University Library in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive (NFA) will be celebrating the engineering feats of fairgrounds and Roller Coasters with a very special display.

The display of material will be housed in the NFA Reading Room at Western Bank Library, open Monday to Friday 9:30 - 16:30 for the duration of NSEW. It includes a collection of:

  • Books and journals exploring the history and technology of roller coasters, giant ferris wheels and theme parks;

  • A photographic database of fairground machinery and amusement park history;

  • Original plans and blueprints of roller coasters (circa 1920) and the Battersea 'London Water Chute' (1951);

  • Trade ephemera from fairground and amusement park manufacturing.


Staff will be on hand to guide you through further resources and discuss your particular areas of interest.

We're also running a mini-series, right here on the blog, exploring the history of going upside down (compiled by Ian Trowell of the NFA). This will include a three part introduction to going upside down followed by a run of theme-park examples:

  • Steam Yachts (1888);

  • Mystic Swing (1930s);

  • Looper (1937);

  • Dive Bomber (1939);

  • Roller Coasters - simple loop (1979);

  • Roller Coasters - complex (post 1990);

  • Enterprise (1979);

  • Pirate Ship (1980);

  • Super Loop (1981);

  • Terminator/Top Spin (1994);

  • Booster (2001);

  • Top Scan (2000).


Also see the NFA news pages for more.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Etheses Session for new PhD Students

The University Library has arranged a further session for newly-registered research students on copyright clearance and the avoidance of unfair means. It's compulsory for all research students to attend one of these sessions and further information can be found on the use of copyright material website.

This repeat session will be held on Thursday 11 March from 10-11am in the North Campus Graduate Research Centre seminar room. There's no need to book in advance, just turn up on the day.