In pictures: The Norfolk town where fairground rides changed forever

Market Place, King's Lynn

Market Place, King's Lynn - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

Let’s take a look at life in the capital of west Norfolk many years ago when messages and greetings came with glorious old picture postcards.

They are a window on another world and as time marches on become more precious than ever. A portrait of the way we were.

King's Lynn

King's Lynn - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

It is not just the buildings but the people they show which bring them alive.

And one of those people from King’s Lynn, the historic hub of west Norfolk, was a man called Frederick who put the fun into funfairs.

South Gate, King's Lynn

South Gate, King's Lynn - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

When the author and traveller Daniel Defoe visited Lynn back in 1722 he described it as a “rich and populous port-town.”


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Today it offers a fine mixture of old and new. With an ancient port dating back to the 12th century, the town has a proud maritime history.

West Lynn Ferry

West Lynn Ferry - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

One of its great seafarers and most famous sons was Captain George Vancouver, whose statue stands proud outside the Customs House – surrounded by an ocean of history.

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But there is another man who is also remembered by a statue in King’s Lynn and his name is Frederick Savage who died in 1897… he helped transform funfair rides for generations to come.

Frederick Savage, mayor of Kings Lynn in the 1890s

Frederick Savage, mayor of Kings Lynn in the 1890s. Accessed via Local Recall. Search the entire EDP archives from 1870 to the present moment on your computers or tablets at localrecall.co.uk. - Credit: Archant Library

It seemed most people knew Frederick who ran the big St Nicholas Iron Works at Bentwick Dock. It covered six acres and the sidings of the Great Eastern Railway ran right into the works.

Frederick was the inventor of steam-powered fairground rides. His carousels were used across this country and sent all over the world.

King's Lynn High Street

King's Lynn High Street. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

A generation of fun-seekers were spinning around and up-and-down on the fantastic and colourful rides thanks to Frederick. He patented the “galloping horses”.

For these “ingenious contrivances” he received medals at exhibitions across Europe.

High Street King's Lynn

High Street, King's Lynn - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

There was a huge range of equipment made at the Lynn ironworks… from ploughing and traction engines to thrashing and winnowing machines and more. They won prizes and awards at shows and displays far and wide.

For example at Dumfries in 1873 he received the silver and first-class gold medals.

The Greenland Fishery, King's Lynn

The Greenland Fishery, King's Lynn - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

Born at Hevingham in Norfolk in 1828, Frederick’s father William was found guilty of poaching and sentenced to 14 years penal servitude in Tasmania.

Times were hard but this young man went from being a hurdle-maker on a country estate to one of the best-loved and successful businessmen in King’s Lynn where he was much admired.

The old gateway on Broadwalk, King's Lynn. 

The old gateway on Broadwalk, King's Lynn. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection

Frederick became a justice of the peace and was appointed Mayor from 1899 to 1890 - the first industrialist to hold the position. He did much to raise money and support a local hospital and a statue was erected four years before his death in 1897.

The statue of Frederick Savage on London Road in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The statue of Frederick Savage on London Road in King's Lynn. - Credit: Ian Burt

The people, the place, the history, ancient and modern… King’s Lynn has great stories to tell.

With thanks to Michael and Frances Holmes of the Norwich Heritage Products who are sharing the collection of pictures and postcards left by the late Michael Adcock with our readers.

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