1950s Coin Operated Rocket Kiddie Ride

April 29, 2019 - 220 views

Filmed at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay in 1965. Released in January 1954, "Dan Dare's Spaceship" was Edwin Hall & Co.'s fourth ride. It would be one of Hall's most popular rides, manufactured for well over a decade.

The original version, "Dan Dare's Spaceship" or "Spaceship Mk III" was released on a high box, which was painted with an ornate fairground-style space scene with the words, "Fly the Spaceship" written across it. "To start the booster motors, put 6d in slot and pull control rod slowly back...", read a sign beneath the spaceship.

It was painted in red and white stripes with yellow and black wings and tail fins by default, but could be customised to the buyer's requirements. This was the first British ride to incorporate lights in the form of two flashing red bulbs on rockets either side of the central tail fin as well as smaller red and white bulbs around the tail fin which flashed throughout the duration of the ride.

It was also (according to reports of the time) the first British ride to have a push button-activated sound effect. The button, located on top of the joystick (which activated the ride after the coin was inserted), caused a firing sound as well as making lights flash on the front gun. I am still confused as to how this sound effect might have worked, considering the soundtrack was provided by a standard record player inside the base.

Having said that, the reports of the general soundtrack itself are a little confusing. Once the coin was inserted (but while the ride was still stationary), the machine apparently "gave off a sound like the soft purring of a motor boat engine". Once the joystick was pulled and the ride set in action, "the sound effect gets louder and more exciting". I would love to know more about the technology behind this if anybody has any idea how it might have worked! The coin slot meter was conveniently located on the side of the ship within easy reach of the rider. As is typical with Edwin Hall rides, the spaceship was updated many times over the years so there were several different versions.

Some versions had the name "S.S. Saturn" written on the side, others seem to have had no specific name other than a generic "Spaceship". Many thanks to Ian Stones, the original uploader, for allowing me to use this clip. The full cine film can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cyzup... I am currently working on a website about coin operated rides, particularly those made (or at least commonly distributed) in the UK during the 1950s-90s. Please visit http://www.coinoperatedrides.weebly.com!

If anybody has old photos/video footage that they wouldn't mind sharing with me, please e-mail me at coinoperatedrides@hotmail.com or leave a comment below. I would be eternally grateful. Thank you! :)

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