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Major Refurbishment of the Silverdale Victorian Water-powered Roundabout 5 November 2007

DAFF has undertaken extensive refurbishment works on the Silverdale Glen Victorian Water-powered Roundabout recently in partnership with Booth W Kelly of Ramsey who co-ordinated the works. The roundabout was built in approximately 1911 and it is considered to be unique and is the only working example of its kind in the British Isles.

The roundabout consists of a central upright centre column and eight horizontal arms which carry four pairs of horses and four boats. The horses were replaced in the 1980’s with modern wooden versions of the original designs but unfortunately in recent years the horses’ condition has badly deteriorated due to vandalism and the effects of water ingress. Because of this The Department took the decision to refurbish the carousel and review the design of the attraction.

The Department sought the advice of a retired independent engineer with experience of working with water powered equipment before awarding the management of the project to Booth W Kelly of Ramsey. They were chosen as they possessed the skills to take on such a traditional piece of engineering and due to the fact that they had already worked on the roundabout in the past.

Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne said: ‘Difficult decisions had to be made during the refurbishment of the roundabout but the Department has endeavoured to incorporate an authentic design wherever possible and the original Victorian workings that drive the roundabout were not altered during the works. The new horses and boats are made from fibreglass and have been cast from the originals and painted to resemble the original designs as closely as possible.’

As the roundabout is operated without formal supervision, it was important for the Department to ensure that it was as safe as possible for children using it. This is reflected in the new design which incorporates a lower platform with the horses and boats being attached at the top and bottom rather than suspended freely from radial arms. The inner diameter of the platform has been fitted with an upstand to prevent any contact between passengers and the central structure. The Department has also endeavoured to improve playground security by installing 24 hour CCTV and incorporating a timer switch onto the carousel so it cannot be operated at night.

Kelvin Keightly Director of Booth W Kelly said: ‘When we at BWK were asked by DAFF if we could refurbish the Silverdale roundabout we were only too pleased to be invited. We enjoy working on the Island’s heritage projects and have been involved with several amongst which, the Snaefell Waterwheel. The roundabout was in a bad condition and needed a complete overhaul to comply with modern health and safety standards and to restore it to its former glory.

‘The main objective for the restoration was to retain as much as possible of the original Victorian character and features. It was decided to mould the horses and boats from fibre glass matching the originals closely. We were able to retain the original drive mechanism and all the parts were designed and built in-house.

‘Booth W Kelly worked closely with Chris Machin who looked after the moulding of the fibre glass whilst, Cyril the Sign-Mann of Laxey, hand-painted the roundabout’s horses and boats. Design work was undertaken by Managing Director Chris Baker and head fitter Gary Harrison was put in charge of the overall project. R.G.W. Limited were responsible for the ground works.’

The roundabout will be reopened in time for next week’s school half term holidays.

Brenda Cannell MHK, Member for Forestry, added: ‘We hope that now all the works have been completed, visitors to Silverdale Glen will appreciate the work that has been undertaken by Booth W Kelly and once again enjoy the delights of riding on one of the Island’s national treasures.’

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