Isle of Man highlights – (5) The magic roundabout

Well, not magic really, but definitely quirky. The roundabout on the children’s playground at the Isle of Man’s Silverdale Glen is powered by water flowing from the nearby boating lake. Shifting the lever releases water which drives a waterwheel, which in turn powers the carousel. The roundabout is the only working example of its kind in the British Isles.

Silverdale Glen was developed as a visitor attraction in the last years of the 19th century. The site included a boating lake, café and a park for games and walking as well as roundabouts, and is a legacy of the Isle of Man’s growth as a tourist destination.

The waterwheel that drives the carousel originally came from the nearby lead / silver / zinc mines at Foxdale. When the mines were closed in 1911 the wheel was transported to Silverdale and reinstalled near the lake to provide the power needed to drive the ride-on horses. The link below will take you to my short YouTube video of the roundabout in action.

The roundabout has undergone numerous renovations in the century since it began operations. In 2007 the wooden horses – which were acquired second-hand from a steam-driven funfair in England – were removed and replaced with fibreglass gallopers and rowboats. One of the originals has been restored and deposited at the excellent Manx Museum. You can view the catalogue image here.

Postscript – while researching the history of Silverdale Glen’s magic roundabout I came across this fascinating post by WordPress blogger Pat English. Written way back in 2010, when we were younger, more innocent and had never heard of Coronavirus, Pat’s post explores the history of roundabouts. It includes lots of colourful carousel horse designs, one inspired by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Definitely worth a look.

12 comments

  1. nationalparkswitht · July 29

    How nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. Carousels are fun. I was on one (on Cape Cod) about five years ago. Enjoyed your essay. See you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · July 30

      Hi, my friend. Yes, carousels are one of life’s simple pleasures, a welcome throwback to a more innocent and less complicated age, the days before Facebook! Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Powell · July 29

    That is so cool. Thanks for including the video–it is so much fun to see it in action.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · July 30

      🙂 I’m accustomed to think of water power in terms of the big things in life, particularly hydro, so it was a welcome surprise to stumble across this example of using it for pure, unadulterated fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. tanjabrittonwriter · August 3

    How very nice. And it turns at a pace that won’t make me dizzy (long gone are the days of repeated roller-coaster rides). 🎠

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · August 4

      Yes, very sedate. Life was more innocent and pleasures so much simpler when this carousel was built. Those were the days!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tanjabrittonwriter · August 4

        I also love the fact that anybody can operate the carousel by flipping the switch and making the water flow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Platypus Man · August 6

        Yes, an early example of putting power in the hands of the consumer. I don’t imagine it would be legal to build one of these in mainland UK today – our Health and Safety laws are draconian, and I imagine someone would argue there was a potential risk of injury. Don’t know what sort of legislation you have in the US, but here the system is bureaucratic and takes risk aversion to extraordinary extremes. One of the joys of retirement is that I no longer have to write – or read – risk assessments!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tanjabrittonwriter · August 6

        Yes, to Hades with risk assessments. 😊
        As far as the US is concerned, you know that this is likely the most litigious society ever, so everything comes with disclaimers, and common sense no longer seems to factor into anything. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Platypus Man · August 7

        I’ve heard rumours of this thing called “common sense” but, as in the US, it’s about as rare as hen’s teeth here in connection with Health and Safety. But never mind, this crazy legislation keeps the lawyers fully occupied, and we all know what trouble we’d be in if lawyers had more free time to interfere in other aspects of our lives 😂.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tanjabrittonwriter · August 7

        As (sadly) true here as there, Mr. P!
        I hope you and Mrs. P will have a pleasant weekend nonetheless.

        Liked by 1 person

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