John Collins has a rich fairground history, and can trace his links in the business, back to his late Great Granddad John Collins.
The Collins’s have been providing funfair entertainment since the 19th Century, travelling widely between Manchester & Liverpool and beyond.
In 1889 John’s Great Granddad attended a meeting at the Black lion Hotel in Salford. This meeting saw the formation of the Van Dwellers Protection Association, a forerunner of today’s “Showmen’s” Guild. The body, that looks after the interests of travelling showmen who attend and operate funfairs. Recognised by, both national and local government.
Today, John Collins is a committee member serving on Lancashire Section of the “Showmen’s” Guild of Great Britain, and has also held the post of Chairman.
Johns Great Granddad, travelled a Savage built set of 4 abreast Gallopers and the first set of Steam Yachts to be built by Savage’s, called “lion” and “Tiger”.
In 1898 it recorded that he attended the World Famous “Nottingham Goose fair” with the 4 abreast Gallopers and Steam Yachts. Where, they regularly attended. In those day’s the fair was held on the towns famous Market square up until 1927, before moving to the Forest Recreation Ground..
Of course such a long journey was carried out by rail, as this was well before the petrol engine.
On the passing of John’s Great Granddad, the business was carried on by his son’s John jnr, Michael Albert and James Patrick.
James (J.P) took over his dads Gallopers and travelled a small ark. Oldest son, John had the Steam Yachts. While Michael travelled a “Dragon” scenic railway which had been given to him as a wedding present from his dad. This featured a large extension front depicting St George slaying the dragon. Michael and James traded as Collins Bros.
The Collins’s, invested in new rides to keep up with the demand of the public who wanted bigger and faster thrills. In 1934, they were among the first showmen to order and operate a Waltzer, the 5th to be built by R.J.Lakin Company. Waltzer’s still remain one of the favourite funfair rides of all time, with all ages.
For the Coronation of the then Duke & Duchess of York in 1937, the Collin’s Bros provided a Funfair at Sefton Park, Liverpool. Featuring there Waltzer, “Dragon” Scenic, Swoop and Swirl. The Swoop was later to be converted to a Motorcycle speedway.
Oldest son John passed away after a period of illness in 1940, which was the early part of the World War 2.
Many of the Bros’ Steam engines were commandeered to help clear demolished buildings, damaged in air raid attacks, around the Northwest.
Like everyone else, the family saw service in the forces, but the rides still opened providing entertainment, and light relieve from the horror of war.
The “Grand National Steeple Chasers” and Swirl were damaged by incendiaries, during the blitz.
Following the cessation of hostilities a new era dawned, the old Steam
engines disappeared, there place to be taken by ex Army Lorries.
More new rides were acquired including a new Waltzer and Mont Blanc for J.P Collins.
Whilst M.A.Collins invested in a Looper after the “Dragon” Scenic was destroyed by fire,and an Autodrome.
In 1956 a set of Dodgems was acquired by Michael Albert, this was then given as a wedding present to his youngest son John, in 1957.
There were two other sons Albert, who left the business to work for Congleton Council, a town, where the family still present two annual funfairs. And Michael, who carried on his dads business.
When Michael retired John Collins took over the business from his uncle, which had just got one of the last Maxwell Waltzer’s, to be built.
John has continued the family business, presenting funfairs at towns in the 21st Century that his Great Granddad attended in the 19th Century.
He has also moved with the times, investing in new attractions, which have included a Lifting-paratrooper, Tri-Star, Miami, Superstar, Superbowl and Jump & smile. In recent years continued investment has seen the purchase of the Frisbee and the replacement of the dodgem cars with a modern high tech version.