There has been a connection between fairgrounds and motorcycles almost as long as motorcycles have existed themselves. Derived directly from United States motorcycle boardtrack (motordrome) racing in the early 1900s, the first carnival motordrome appeared at Coney Island amusement park, New York, in 1911. The following year portable tracks began to appear on travelling carnivals, and in 1915 the first ‘silodromes’ with vertical walls appeared and were soon dubbed the ‘Wall of Death.’ The carnival attraction became a staple in the United States outdoor entertainment industry with the phenomenon reaching its zenith in the 1930s, with more than 100 motordromes on travelling shows and in amusement parks.
Motorcycles featured at British fairgrounds from the late twenties, when the first wall-of-death was introduced at the Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend in the summer of 1929. In the UK, Kursaal and George ‘Tornado’ Smith – seen below posting a letter and advertising his show – became synonymous with the sideshow. By the mid-1930s, there were fifty shows touring the country and stunts included riding sidecars with animals on board – including a lioness. WWII put a temporary end to of the shows; a few were restarted after the war, and the Todd Family Wall of Death was featured at the 1951 Festival of Britain, with Frank Senior, George, Jack, Bob and Frank Junior riding. Women riders often performed on them, and continue to do so until this day.
With adults entertained by the Wall of Death, younger kids had to content themselves with fairground motorcycle rides. Growing up in the fifties, a trip to a fairground was a very special rare treat and, before graduating to the dodgem cars, a ride on a fairground motorcycle was my ultimate ambition.
1950s Motobecane Carousel Motorcycle
THIS IS NOT A REAL MOTORCYCLE!
I advertised it for sale last year, and was inundated with replies from blokes asking me if it is MOT tested 🙂
This is a toy 1950s Motobecane motorcycle from a 1960s fairground roundabout. It was restored by a French enthusiast and is in very good condition.
It would look beautiful in the house, and is ideal for grandkids to play on when they come to visit.
My daughter is six years old, and she enjoys playing on it. It would suit a child up to ten years old.
Please bear in mind that this a large, exclusive toy motorcycle. They are very collectible in France, where they were made.