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FUNFAIR JARGON A-Z...
Brand new to Fair-Pix, showmen, workers and enthusiasts alike commonly use jargon when talking about the fairground scene Some of it is slang, some could also be also be borderline to offend the snowflakes! Here is a self-created guide to the terms used on the fun fairs scene - additions, amendments of course welcome by contacting me on top right link.

TERM DESCRIPTION
Back-End The busy part of the fairground calendar that normally covers September and October.
Belly Box The lower compartment of the trailer which the packing is contained.
Big Hitter Novelty crowd attraction ride or attraction which appears at the larger fairs & events only.
Birdcage Roof A platform fairground ride with a sloped roof.
Boarded On/Off Fairground attraction arrives or departments from a soft ground by moving along boards to protect the ground.
Bonfires Period between late October and mid-November where showmen are attending events to support fireworks events to mark Guy Fawkes Night which is traditionally held on 5th November.
Box truck Enclosed trailer for storing packed fairground equipment.
Bubble Spirit Level
Build-Up Erection of fairground equipment.
Burster Busy period on fairground.
Canopy Some Waltzers have porch-like entrances fitted to the front of the ride to enhance it's look.
Cap Screwed on plastic light covers for modern fairground lighting.
Car Gondola (except on Dodgems when cars are literally cars!)
Casual Part-time worker on a fairground.
Centre-Truck Wheeled trailer which forms the centre-piece of a round ride such as the older Waltzer & Ark rides.
Cheesewheel The component centrally located for rotating a fairground ride which meets the cog of the motor.
Cleans-Up Either "cleans-up the ground" or "shuts up the ground" a fairground ride which attracts the most riders.
Convertible Usually applies to Waltzers & Ark rides, a particular ride which can operate under more than time type of guise.
Cummings Cummings manufactured engine.
Dancer Floor around a Waltzer or Ark control box where the gaff lads hand in the money or tokens to the ride operator.
Decor Decoration on fairground attraction.
Dolly Removable two or four wheel axle which fits to a lorry's tow-bar to tow a trailer.
Droppers Component on the Gallopers which are hung from the swift.
Feast Name of a chartered fair which was held on the feast day of the patron saint to whom the church was dedicated.
Click here for more chartered fairs.
Fish Plates The heavy metal platform plates on Skids which the cars spin on.
Flash A wall made out of (normally aluminium) panels fitted behind a ride with decorated themed artwork. Backflash - flash behind ride, Centreflash - flash in centre.
Flat ride American/theme park lingo for a fairground ride.
Flattie Any individual who is not a showperson. Also known as joskin which can be looked upon as offensive.
Fold-Out A ride which the floor folds down or away during build-up or pull-down respectively.
Front Board Large panel (either wood or aluminium) located above the entrance to a ride like a Waltzer.
Gaff Fairground
Gaff Lad/Lass Male or female full-time worker on the fairground.
Gaff-Catcher Hard seasoned enthusiast.
Gates Wooden/metal brackets underneath a platform ride which hold the tram tracks & gratings.
Gratings Platform sheets on fairground rides, material range from wooden to chequerplate or throughplate aluminium on modern rides.
Handrails Fencing fitted around a ride for customer's safety.
Hoopla Round stall at fairground.
Hoover Fairground ride (normally) that cleans-up the ground.
Joint Side stall at a fairground.
Kickers Vertically fitted panels fitted to steps on entrance/exit to rides.
Kip Truck Workers living quarters built by showmen on the main lorry for transporting attractions.
Knock Out Removable wheels on an arcticulated trailer to lower it's height.
Lessee The person or organisation with the lease to organise & operate a fairground. Some councils are lessees directly.
Load Fairground equipment packed on artic or drawbar transport.
Livery Uniform colour scheme for fairground firm transport.
Machine A mechanically operated fairground ride.
Miami Type of fairground ride which evolved in the 1990's which spins sideways across its trailer, named after the very first UK machine Miami Trip.
Mop Short for Mop Fairs also called Statute or Hiring fairs, were regular events in pre-modern Great Britain and Ireland where labourers were hired for fixed terms.
Click here for more about Mop Fairs.
Net The mesh fitted under the Dodgem roof used to conducting one end of the Dodgem pole to allow them to move.
Night Attack When a showman moves from a ground to another ground overnight especially during the bonfire period with events held on consecutive days.
Novelty Fairground attraction not often seen at fairs.
Odeon Big lavish front for a platform ride, was more popular in the 50s & 60s.
Packing Normally made of wood, blocks used to level fairground rides when set on positions. More uneven the ground, more packing required.
Paint Job Paint work or hand decoration done to fairground attraction or transport.
Paybox The control or pay booth of an attraction.
Pillar Also known as False Pillar: Decorative items fitted to uprights to enhance a platform ride (particularly a Waltzer).
Pins Components used to hold parts in place.
Pitch The place on the fair where an attraction stands (similar to position or plot).
Platform Moving boards on a fairground ride such as an Ark or Waltzer.
Platform ride Basically a fairground ride which spins using a platform e.g. Ark, Skid or Waltzer.
Position The part of the fair where a particular piece of equipment is located.
Preservation of Rights Showmen's Guild offer priviledges to members allowing them to protect their positions when they are unable to use them and can sublet with prior permission.
Pull-Down Dismantling of fairground equipment.
Pull-Off The departure of a fairground from its location.
Pull-On The arrival of a fairground to its location.
Raker A busy day for business on the fairground.
Riding Master Owner of the fairground company.
Rode Black Fairground ride experienced very busy period.
Rounding Boards Top panels (either wood or aluminium) which fit around normally a platform ride. Some Dodgems also have them.
Season Opener The start of the fairground season, traditionally is Kings Lynn Mart but now various events are held over February school half-term period.
Section One of 10 regional departments of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain.
Set Generator for powering fairground equipment.
Setting-Out The lessee's job is to mark out the fair before the first loads arrive.
Shutters Panels fitted around the bottom of some machines to cover the mechanisms.
Slip Helter Skelter
Skipper A loose taboo definition of a young woman who dates a male worker from the fair.
Spider The skeleton shaped polygon that a platform ride builds about the centre truck.
Sublet The owner of a particular position can let another operator (with lessee's prior permission) to open paying the ground owner the rent.
Substitution Replacing one type of ride with another on the same position.
Swag Any items given away as prizes on a fairground stall.
Swifts Column components fitted from the centre that creates the shape of the ride.
Switch-Ons Period of the season from mid-Novembe to early-December where showmen attend events to mark the switching on of the Christmas Lights in towns and cities.
Tan or tanned Slang used for beating another attraction - "the Superstar tanned the Round-Up"
Tenant The operator at the fair who pays rent to the lessee to open.
Tilt Cover for ride or transport.
Time & Distance Showmen's Guild rule which forbids a new fair being held before an established fair within set time & length of distance.
Tober Slang word for fairground site.
Tram The small wheels that transverse along the track of a ride (e.g. rides include Ark, Waltzer, Matterhorn).
Tram Track Circular moving track which often feature hills which the trams of a ride transverse along.
Truck Trailer for transporting equipment.
Tubs Cars for Waltzer rides.
Unit Lorry cab.
Upright Vertical column for holding parts of a fairground ride.
Wagon Mobile living quarters for the fairground operators.
Winched On/Off A fairground ride is carefully placed or removed off a position using a winch pulley.



UPDATED: 26/04/2020



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