J.Rowland & Sons

Published: Wednesday, 02 September 2020

The early history of this company is a bit of mystery to all as the Rowland family is one of the oldest showland families, but unlike the De-Vey family of Anderton and Rowland, there is very little early published history of the company.



Image: Transport Fleet - Early 1970's: Richard Adams Collection

The Rowland family are no relation to the Company of Anderton and Rowland, although one could be forgiven for thinking there was. True, Thomas Rowland married a lady who's is one of the De-Vey family, but as has been quoted "Same name - no relation".

Francis Brown has written a book entitled "Fairfield Folk A history of the British fairground and it's people" in it there is a tale of one one Tom Smith or Tom Bushnell who fell foul of the law on a trivial (today) charge and while awaiting trial, he slipped his guard in Surrey County Gaol and fled over the wall. At the age of 16, Tom was effectively on the run but changed his name to Rowland and quickly set up a lawful business as a 'Hawker'. He married Betsy Smith and they had eight children including Amy, Thomas, Billy,Priscilla and Albert. Amy married Joe Mathews and features prominently in the rest of Francis's book. The interesting thing is that it describes how Tom and Betsy Rowland travelled further and further west from Surrey until their run of places took in the far west Cornwall fairs at Penzance.

There then follows a gap, in published knowledge but the firm of J.Rowlands and Sons started from these humble beginnings and post World War two had a sizable run of places with Dodgems, Wheel and Ark and carried on to the mid 2000s.


Image: Scammell Towing Box Truck: Richard Adams Collection

Image: AEC Towing Dodgem Loads: Richard Adams Collection

The firm used to start the year with a fair at their own yard in St.Blazey and their run of places takes them from Penzance to St Ives and Perranporth and on into South Devon through Torrington in North Devon back to Summercourt, Perranporth and the Ark used to appear in the Great Dorset Steam Fair during the early 2000's.




Image: The late Joey Rowland painting the Ark boards.

Image: J.Rowland's Ark Summercourt 2006 (C) Simon Reed

Link here to Rowland's family tree, as it covers Tommy Rowland, Joey Rowland Maurice and David Rowland.



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