Birthplace of Frederick Savage
Hevingham, Norfolk, UK
date 3rd March 1828
era Georgian |
category Birthplace of Engineer |
Fredrick Savage, inventor of a system for running fairground carousels using a horizontally-mounted steam engine at its centre, was born in the Norfolk village of Hevingham.
Savage's steam engine configuration dates from 1868. It enabled the construction of much larger carousel rides, carrying more people than had been possible before. This resulted in the development of what we now think of as a traditional carousel, with carved 'galloping horses' suspended on twisted brass rods in rows of three or four abreast. To make the horses rise and fall, a multi-cranked driveshift was provided for each row. These carousels became known as 'Gallopers' and were painted brightly.
Savage was born during the reign of George IV, a period in which agriculture in the UK was at a low ebb. The Stockton & Darlington Railway had just opened, and seaside piers were under construction at Margate and Brighton. His early years provided him with a patchy education and he remained only semi-literate throughout his life. Later, he would sketch his instructions on the cinder ash floor of his workshops using a stick.
When his father, William Savage, was found guilty of poaching (a serious matter at that time), resulting in a sentence of 14 years penal servitude in Tasmania, Frederick’s work as a hurdle-maker on a local country estate proved inadequate to feed the family. In search of a better way of life, Savage entered the service of Thomas Cooper, Whitesmith and Machine Maker.
Savage married Susannah Bloyce in 1850. He also sought employment with Charles Willett of Lynn, credited as a brazier, tinplate worker, ironmonger, wholesale and retail dealer, whitesmith and bell hanger. In 1851, Savage move to King’s Lynn on the north Norfolk coast with his wife.
Shortly after this, Willet retired, allowing Savage to begin his own operations. His new company produced engines to power agricultural machinery, as well as engines for carousels and merry-go-rounds. In 1872, Savage moved the business to St Nicholas Ironworks in King’s Lynn. He became a Justice of the Peace and was elected Mayor in 1889-90.
Savage died in 1897 aged 69. A statue celebrating his life and achievements was erected in Kings Lynn.
"The Engine Builders of Norfolk" by Ronald H Clark, Faulis Haynes Publishing Group ,Yeovil, 1988
"Savage of King's Lynn, Inventor of machines & merry-go-rounds", by David Braithwaite, Patrick Stephens Limited, 1975