Anderton & Rowlands

Published: Wednesday, 02 September 2020

The company started when in 1854 Albert H. Haslam, a variety artist, set up on his own giving magic exhibitions. His tutor was one Professor Anderson and upon his death Albert assumed the name of Anderton.

The business grew in the North of England until by 1888 it was "Anderton's Anchor Show" and was a large double-fronted outfit. Later this show became "The home of Mysteries."

Later Professor Anderson was assisted by four sons one of who became known as Captain Rowland and two daughters, one called Martha.

The show developed to become "Anderton & Haslams No 1 Royal Managerie" and in 1896, they teamed up with the Ginnett circus family to become "Fourpawrs Circus and Managerie."

By 1900 the company were travelling as "Professor Anderton and Captain Rowlands Combined show." This was a performing animal and living picture variety show with an 87 key Gaviolli organ and a Savage Brothers steam engine incorporated into it.

In 1903, the variety show first travelled under the name of Anderton and Rowland the name that has been in existence ever since.

Professor Anderton

Image: Professor Anderton who died in Sidmouth in 1909 (C) Stephen Smith Collection

Meanwhile a certain George De-Vey had been born in France on 10th December 1867 and had come to England with his parents shortly after he was born. He met and fell in love with Martha and they were married in 1902. George De-Vey was a visionary and persuaded Professor Anderton to invest in a riding machine.

In 1905 a set of Savage Gondolas with a spinning top was purchased. The Anderton boys and George De-Vey developed the business into four cinemas and the travelling amusements the travelling shows being run by George De-Vey, Albert Anderton Jnr (his farther died in 1909) and Arthur Anderton (Captain Rowland).

The firm continued to expand with a base being opened in Bristol and when the Hancock fairground operation ended a second base opened in Plymouth.

The firm ran two separate sections (as they still do today) one from Bristol to Plymouth and the Regatta fairs of Devon and the other run by Captain Rowland running Plymouth and Cornwall. Even today the firm still has the number one and two sections who only join up for their largest fairs.

In 1912 a set of Savage Steam motors was acquired and the organ moved from the theatre to take it's place in the centre of the ride.

In 1921, one of the firms most famous rides the Orton and Spooner Super Scenic the "Golden Dragons" was delivered. This replaced the steam motors which (I believe) were sold on. A Mountain Glide and a set of four-a-breast gallopers followed until by the 1920's the firm travelled a great number of novelty rides and attractions.

In 1929 the scenic cars were changed to Dolphins and two dodgem tracks and an Ark was acquired.

Showmanship is based on giving the public novelty, something new, something exciting. Each generation has had to face new difficulties from the last. When George De-Vey Snr. Died in 1931, the next generation, George a, Ernest and Nelson De-Vey, were more than ready to take over the firm and face those challenges. They replaced the old Gondolas and Motor Switchback with a series of fast, novelty rides which appealed to the tastes of people who saw the pace of life ever increasing. In 1931 the company bought a new Ark from Orton and Spooner. The machine was a five hill model that was subsequently re-built as a four hill one and is still owned by members of the De-Vey family.

In 1933 a swirl was delivered but replaced by a Mont Blanc in 1934. A large dodgem track was purchased and in 1936 the Dolphins were modernised to try and compete with the newer rides. Now known as the Brookland racer it was a great attempt to add life to a machine that was no longer popular and although the firm kept operating the machine until 1938 it's Golden days were past and it was packed away forever at the end of the season.

During the Second World War, George, Ernest and Nelson De-Vey served their country whilst most of the firm’s equipment remained packed away except for the Dodgems which George De-Vey’s wife kept working for the duration. The old Scenic Railway was left in store and moved out of Bristol only just in time to escape the Blitz. Despite this it was never to be used again and was eventually scrapped.

The post-war years saw even more investment, with the old steam engines replaced by brand new Scammell Showtrac lorries. New rides also appeared; an Autodrome and a Skid were amongst the first to travel the West in the 1940s. 

 In 1947 the company purchased an Autodrome with a typical post war modernist front. This ride still exists but is now owned by a member or the Ayre's family and opens as a Waltzer.

Image: Anderton and Rowland Autodrome, (C) Unknown

In 1954, the company's centenary, they purchased an American Whip making 31 machines since the purchase of the Gondolas.  Throughout this time the firm were well-represented at all the major Devon fairs such as Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay and Barnstaple. 

While I would not even attempt to provide a family tree  but it is difficult to go forward without outlining that  Nelson was married to Madeline De-Vey and their son, Colin came formally into the business on his 21st Birthday when he also received the Scammell "The Lion".  Ernest and Ivy De-Vey had a daughter, Jane and Michael, Ernie and Rowland De-Vey while George and Sophie had a son called George.

By the early 1970's Nelson and Colin were running the Ark, Ernie was running the Orton & Spooner Dodgems, Michael his Twist and George the Supercar Dodgems.

In 1973, Nelson DeVey purchased a new Waltzer from Maxwell's, a 10 car machine with no rounding boards but a fan-light on the front beam, and a flat roof with yellow perspex panels.

Image: The Lion of Colin DeVey towing his Ark into Penzance (C) Richard Adams collection.

Image: The Lion of Colin DeVey towing his Ark into Redruth (C) Richard Adams collection.


The 1981 season marked the arrival of Maxwell Skyrider lifting Paratrooper from Cadonna's and this came under George De-Vey, managed by his son, Simon. In the same year, Rowland purchased a Satellite/Trabant known as the Hully Gully. In 1984 an upright paratrooper was purchased by Rowland from C.Whitelegg, but this was sold on by 1986 when the Ski-Jump flying coaster was purchased. In this same year Colin purchased a Meteorite. At the start of the 1987 season the Ark was retired and Colin De-Vey replaced it with an Orbiter. 

Image: Colin De-Vey Orbiter @ Torquay 2004 ; (C) Simon Reed


Image: Colin De-Vey Orbiter @ Torquay 2004 ; (C) Simon Reed

The 1990's see the sons and daughters of Colin, Rowland, George and Michael coming into the business. To start with there were a couple of collective arrangements. One saw the company have an arrangement with an enthusiast to have their name on another set of Gallopers. They also purchased a Big Wheel that folded onto a single load.  These two rides enabled a service for 'old time' events. 

Image: Mick Goodings Gallopers under the arrangement with Anderton & Rowland: Photographed at Dingles Fairground Centre 2006

Ben De-Vey, George's younger son, purchased what was known as the Mega City Matterhorn in 1994 and this stayed with him until the year 2000 when it was sold and then Ben replaced it with 'Jumpin' a set of Comdefer jumping frogs for the 2001 season.

Image: Ben De-Vey Jumpin at Torquay 2004 ; (C) Simon Reed

1995 - saw Rowland De-Vey purchase a Miami and this is now run by his son Rowland jnr.  

In 1996 Simon De-Vey purchased the ex-T. Whitelegg Speedway that had been converted into a Waltzer by Henry James and had this rebranded as the City of Plymouth Waltzer. This machine was much loved by enthusiasts and the public and stayed with Simon until the late twenty-tens when it was laid-up and it was sold in 2017.

Image: The City of Plymouth Waltzer @ Redruth (C) Simon Reed

The new millennium, saw a number of new purchases: Michael De-Vey took delivery of a new Twist, Rowland purchased a Superstar (now run by his son, Jonathan) and retired the coaster. During the same time, following a major road accident, Colin had the firms Maxwell Waltzer rebuilt on one load and now known as the Number 1.

In 2007, Simon's son George purchased a KMG Freak-Out and in the same year Colin and Rowland purchased a Zamperla Wild mouse coaster for their larger fairs.

Wild Mouse Coaster

Image: Colin & Rowland De-vey Wild Mouse Coaster - further information and picture from here

Colin's son (also called Colin) took on a Matterhorn with the name of Thriller in 2009.

Colin Snr passed away in 2018 and his wife, Vicky now travels with their son.

Simon and Ben De-Vey, Colin Jnr, Rowland and Jonathan are the forth generation of De-Veys to travel the Duchy from their basis in Cullompton and West Point. 

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