The ‘Magic Roundabout’ is having its last spin this week.
The children’s carousel which has been a permanent feature of life in the town centre for eight years will be dismantled after school half-term and put into storage.
It’s the end of a chapter of entertainment by London-born showman Michael Hill who brought the vintage merry-go-round to the town after it spent the best part of 60 years travelling the country in touring fairs.
Michael said: “It has been a wonderful privilege to work with all the children and their parents over the years and to have their complete trust. I have seen many little ones grow up and it has been like being part of a massive extended family.”
He first saw a roundabout being operated 35 years ago when he was a market trader and always dreamed of owning one. His dream came true when he bought the 1955 Coulson Toy Set. In a high-speed, electronic download age, his ride – complete with a red double-decker bus, a twin deck showboat, horses, old fashioned cars, motorbikes, performing seal and donkey – has been a hit with countless children through the years.
“I am amazed to think how many local children must have been on the ride, but it has to be in the tens of thousands and over its lifetime that figure would be incredible,” said Michael.
“These rides were built by craftsmen back in the day and built to last. This set is still running on its original engine and there has been an unseen team of engineers and electricians who have kept it going so well for so long.
“I will be sad to take it down for the last time.”
So what’s in store for Michael and his partner Tina?
He added: “Tina has been my rock over the years – you can’t run a ride like this single handed and we are both looking forward to a proper retirement; touring in our new caravan, reading and listening to music in front of our log burning fire and just having time to think.”
And the ride? It is up for sale to a good home and there has been interest from some museums who might like the roundabout as an exhibition of what travelling fairs were like back in their heyday.
Michael said: “When it was launched in the mid-50s it cost thruppence a ride and whole families earned a living from it. It has been my life for the past eight years and I will be sad to go, but would like to thank the thousands of families who have supported us over the years in Hastings.”