DailyHum Logo
This British University Has an Archive of Ye Olde Haunted Houses
Oct 21, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
Picture - This British University Has an Archive of Ye Olde Haunted Houses

The photographs housed at the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground and Circus Archive aren’t really meant to be spooky, but there’s just something about a vintage snapshot of a vacant carnival ride or empty sideshow stage that feels like a peek onto a horror movie set.

That makes sense to collections manager Arantza Barrutia. She points out that, for many, fear is integral to the experience of a fair of any sort. The draw is “the thrill experience, the feeling of fear you get when you go on a ride or into a funhouse.” In the heyday of Britain’s fairgrounds, from the Victorian era and into the early 20th century, the country’s showmen were savvy businessmen, Barrutia says, who played with this idea of titillating audiences with fear. “Anything that entertained the public, the showmen would have been there, developing that idea,” she says. By the early 20th century, that often included the haunted house and the ghost train, in which fairgoers rode through dark tunnels inhabited by mechanized ghouls (commonly known in the amusement world as a “dark ride”). Barrutia speculates that widespread interest in spiritualism and communicating with those in the great beyond were responsible for these carnival mainstays.

Sponsored
Nov 27, 2021 | Nomadic Matt Blog
NM+ Weekly Update: Spain Edition
Nov 26, 2021 | A Luxury Travel Blog
10 of the most luxurious villas in the Seychelles
Nov 26, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
'Provost of Ceres' in Ceres, Scotland
Nov 26, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
Shiojiri Garden in Mishawaka, Indiana
Nov 26, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
The Star Pyramid in Stirling, Scotland
Nov 25, 2021 | A Luxury Travel Blog
Top 5 après ski bars in Val d’Isere
Nov 25, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
Tchorek Plaques in Warsaw, Poland
Nov 25, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
Speakers' Corner in Melbourne, Australia
Nov 25, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
Dering Wood in Pluckley, England
Nov 25, 2021 | Atlas Obscura
Shurijo Castle in Naha, Japan