Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre is an attraction I had heard lots about and had been keen to visit for a while. I loved fairground rides when I was younger, and I love museums, so I was really intrigued to see traditional fairground rides from years gone by and hear about their history.
Nathan and I went to Dingles on a Sunday back in May. We got there shortly after opening time and it was relatively quiet which we liked. We had brought our entry tickets online the night before as they were slightly cheaper (15% discount) and included some tokens for the rides. The tickets are valid for 12 months for a return visit so I’m sure we will be back soon!
First off, we went around the museum part of the attraction. Being home to the National Fairground Collection and the Fairground Heritage Trust it was full of if interesting information relating to the birth of fairground rides and a cool timeline detailing the development of rides through the ages.
I really liked seeing the old fairground horses from the carousels and seeing how intricately made and beautifully painted they were. There were some interactive displays for the little ones and even some wartime themed rides!
We then moved on to the fairground ride part of the museum. It was really cool walking around and seeing all the heritage rides in full swing – the lights and noise transported us back to the past and we were keen to spend our tokens and get riding! There was also lots of vintage stalls offering prizes and guaranteed fun!
We opted to go on the moon rocket ride first which was so much fun! It basically just went around and round until we were dizzy and giggling in hysterics! Nathan was holding on for dear life and wouldn’t put his hands up in the air which I found super funny. Check out videos of the rides of Dingles Instagram page.
Next, we tried out the traditional carousel and rode around on horses – when as the last time you went on one of these?!
We also went on the ghost train which was funny as we went one at a time and one of the ticket people jumped out at me as the ride ended (which was probably the scariest bit!). It made Nathan laugh a lot as you can imagine. The ghost train reminded me of being a kid and my big sister and I going on the ghost train at Dymchurch Fairground in Hythe where my Nan used to have a caravan – good times!
The dodgems were next – this was fun and a chance to be a big kid again. There were quite a few other people on at the same time which added to the fun of trying dodge people and chase Nathan round the track.
We tried our hands at some shooting too – I have never done this before but I was actually better than Nathan, much to his dismay! Neither of us were good enough to win anything though, never mind!
At times we had to wait a while for staff to come over and let us on the rides – I think because it wasn’t busy they didn’t have many staff working and so not all of the rides or stalls were manned. As it got busier it meant there were quite a lot of people walking around and waiting, which may have bothered some people. I can imagine they have more staff working during the summer holidays when it’s likely to be busier.
Dingles also houses a large collection of old-fashioned antique arcade games. We enjoyed playing on the heritage 2p slot machines and trying our hand at table football. Unfortunately, quite a lot of the machines weren’t working and swallowed some of our pennies which was a shame and a little frustrating.
After this we moved to have a look at the transport and living wagon collection. There were old-fashioned caravans and trucks. It was interesting to imagine them touring round, pulling along all the old rides so many years ago. I’m not sure what the darlek was all about though! Check out the DinglesTwittter page for more information and pictures!
The centre often puts on events during school holidays and as it was the end of half term when we visited, we saw some of the ‘dragons and unicorns’ event that had been running. We saw a unicorn (horse!) and lots of face painting and mythical activities for children. You can check out upcoming events on the Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre’s what’s on website page and follow them on Facebook.
After all that fun we needed some refreshments. We visited the onsite café and got ourselves some lunch. This consisted of a brie and bacon panini for me and a burger and chips for Nathan. It was priced as we expected (slightly more than we would have liked to pay) and could have been a bit tastier. We sat outside in the picnic area and enjoyed the Spring sunshine.
There’s a small gift and souvenir shop which sells books, memorabilia merchandise and the all-important postcard!
We really enjoyed our visit to Dingles and spent a good few hours there experiencing the fun of the vintage rides and learning about the heritage of fairground traditions. All of the memorabilia and historic collections are really interesting and there’s plenty of information for people to read. The centre is not far from Okehampton and located just off the A30. With plenty of free parking, a café and small shop there’s something for everyone and a really fun family day out!
Do you like fairground rides? Let me know in the comments below!