The Edwin Hall Dalek ride

Edwin Hall Dalek ride at Bonhams in May 2006

A well-preserved Edwin Hall Dalek ride that was offered for auction at Bonhams in May 2006.

If you grew up in the 60s and 70s, maybe you'll remember the coin-operated Dalek rides that used to sit on seafronts and in amusement arcades across the UK.

The Dalek ride was manufactured by Edwin Hall & Co and distributed by Edward Saville Amusements during the 1960s. The Edwin Hall company are better known for having manufactured larger fairground rides, the most famous being the Cyclone Twist. Edwin Hall himself, seems to have started out as a fairground artist, expanding into ride manufacture later on. How this led to the production of a Dalek ride is anybody's guess! There is very little specific information available on Edwin Hall & Co. If you know anything of their history, please get in touch.

The dates of manufacture of these units is pretty vague, though it is likely that they were produced between 1964 and 1967.

The ride has an access hole on its right hand side, through which the child can enter. A small seat faces the controls for the appendages. When a coin is inserted, the Dalek begins to move, rotating 360 degrees, while also moving in a lateral 'figure-of-eight' motion. During operation the lights flash and a suitable soundtrack plays..

By today's standards, these rides are a heath-and-safety nightmare. Children's fingers could easily become trapped (or worse) as the unit operates. The way they move means you can't stand too close, unless you want scraped shins.


Photo album...

AndyL in Dalek

Andy Loring:
This would be me in 1966 at Belle Vue, Manchester.

RobertK in Dalek

Robert Kew:
Me (at rear) and my cousin, 1968 at Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey.

RayP in Dalek

Ray Phillips:
Me (in the Dalek) and my brother, circa 1969 in Cleethorpes.

Do you have a photo like the ones above? If so contact me if you wish to add it to the album.

Inside...

The sound is provided by a tape deck situated inside the dome (which also contains the circuitry for the timer and lights). The design seems to vary from ride to ride. Some (presumably earlier) models have cut down reel-to-reel tape decks while others have eight track cassette players fitted. It is more than likely that many of these have since been replaced by more modern alternatives.

The circuitry housed in the dome became very hot and this seems to have caused a number domes to become brittle, crack and shatter - leaving a hole in the top, exposing the electrics. This hole was often hidden by the creative addition of a flashing beacon. It is possible that later models had a beacon fitted as standard.

The soundtracks also varied. Some have sound effects taken from the Dalek movies, while others play the Doctor Who TV theme and/or produce a ranting Dalek voice. What the 'factory standard' tape was is unknown.

The original colour scheme is consistently red (pigmented fibreglass gel coat). However, may hours in the sunshine often bleached the colour to a mild pink, at which point the rides were often repainted in any of a multitude of colour schemes.

In collecting terms, these rides aren't for the feint-hearted. The cast metal frame/base that carries the motor takes two men to lift. The main carcase is 'all in one' from below the neck, down to and including the fender. The floor is reinforced, and the carcase is thickly laid up in fibreglass.

The basic GRP hemispheres are integral to the skirt but are then enhanced with spun aluminium covers (in two different sizes). Many of these covers have succumbed to small prying fingers as they are only held on with contact adhesive, which would have become soft under the warm summer sun. The slats are thick aluminium, but still managed to become snapped on some units.

Exactly how many of these rides were made is a matter of debate, though it is believed that they numbered between 35 and 50, manufactured in the UK somewhere between 1964 and 1967.

Under the dome

Bare dome, awaiting refurbishment.

Coin-op section

Underneath.


HELP!

Were you involved with the Edwin Hall company in the 1960s? Did you help manufacture or distribute these rides? Were you responsible for their removal, at the end of their working lives? If you have any information on the Edwin Hall company or these coin-operated Daleks, or if you have photographs of these Daleks, please get in touch so that the information can be documented for posterity.