Ark Centre and Guy eight Wheeler. Taken around 1976.

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 DeVey family of Anderton and Rowland, there is very little published history of the company.


Transport Fleet - Early 1970's

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.

Scammell Towing Dodgem Loads

There then follows a gap, in published knowledge but the firm of J.Rowlands and Sons started from these humble beginnings. I became aware of them in the early 1970's as they were one of the companies that travelled an Ark , a ride that has opened under Joey and then Jonathan Rowland until being sold on in 2011.

The Ark at West oF England Steam Rally

The firm folded in <<xx>> with an Ark, Dodgems, Ski-Jump, Big Wheel and Juvenile rides. Members of the family have set up in their own right including Maurice Rowland, David Rowland, Thomas Rowland etc.

The Ark at Summercourt 2001

The firm used to start the year with a fair at their own yard in St.Blazey and their run of places took them from Penzance to St Ives and Perranporth and on into South Devon. The company has a long run of places from their yard in St.Blazey, through Torrington in North Devon, Summercourt, Perranporth and the Ark was a regular at the Great Dorset Steam Fair.

The Ark with painted Rounding Boards 2005


The Coaster 2005