‘Tom’ Tuby and his wife Maria, had six sons and four daughters. The eldest was George then there was Harry. However both of these youngsters died. But they then had Thomas followed by Arthur, Harry and George Edgar and all but Thomas were to remain with their father and mother as managers for many years.
However, when Thomas married Annie Rhodes, with the approval of his father he began in his own right as a showman with a set of Gotha built chairoplanes that came into the country new from Germany, arriving on the fairground at Worksop. His son, George Rhodes Tuby, who had three brothers and a sister, remembers that when the 48 seat set arrived, it had a 48 key book music organ fitted. However, they soon got fed up with feeding the music books into the organ, for as George Rhodes added, it could tie up a man feeding the music books in, so they had it changed to a barrel organ. They had two barrels, each with eight tunes pinned on them, so that once the barrel had been fitted, eight tunes would play without any need for human attention and continue through the music again so it could be left running during the time the chairs were open. He remembers that these barrels were as long as the organ and they were sent to Manchester periodically to be re-pinned with the latest tunes so that the chairs were up to date with the tunes of the time. And he also remembers that if the organ got damp it was necessary to call out the experts to set it up before it could be used on the fairs. The chairs were worked through until after the Second World War. And George Rhodes Tuby remembers the position just after the war with a shortage of materials. However, there was firm of builders in Retford who were able to get hold of the scarce timber needed by showmen. So George Rhodes, whose father had suffered from tuberculosis and died of T.B. when young George was eight years of age, pulled onto the then Retford Common where the showmen used to stay for Retford Fair, and which was close to the builder’s premises and had the chairs reconditioned. New legs of hard timber were built, then new swifts were put in where the old ones had suffered from exposure to the weather. New quarterings were fitted and the firm made all new rounding boards for the ride as well as new droppers. And such was the toughness of the wood that George remembers that it was impossible to knock a nail into it. And all this was done on Retford Common. In the builder’s sheds they were also making a ‘box truck’ for his mother, Annie Tuby and her family. It had a sleeping compartment with three bunks for the workmen in the front. There was room for packing at the back and the pole of the chairs went on the top. When it was loaded the trailer weighed twelve tons. And it speaks volumes for the British motor industry that it was pulled by a Leyland Bull, a four wheel lorry being used as a tractor by the family. And this also towed the families living van.
The lorry was obtained from Pelicans, the diesel people at Leeds, the same year as George Rhodes bought a Gardner engine lighting set from the company.
This was in 1938, when George was 21 years of age, and the lighting set cost £618, a lot of money at the time, and money that he had to borrow from one of his mother’s relations.This was for a Pelican showman’s generator-set, fitted with a reconditioned Gardner 6LW high speed oil engine, Mather and Platt type R.102 dc generator, complete with all necessary materials, switchboard etc. George Rhodes remembers that Pelican, who were the main Gardner agents in Leeds used to build generator sets for showmen. There were three built in the years George got his and they were all delivered in the same week, one went to Annie Tuby’s family, one to Jim Roots, and one to Whitings of Sheffield. But it was only George Rhodes who got one with the superior Mather and Platt dynamo on it. One of the directors of Pelicans told young George that if he did as he told him and did not touch the governors on the engine, it would last him a life time. And today that same Gardner is with son Charles Tuby, the main generator working with the dodgems, another tribute to British workmanship in those pre-war days. Up to this time, the Burrell No 3372, Norah had been working with the chairs. The chairs were in two trucks so the engine had a road train of three, the two chairs trucks and the living van. But George wanted to do away with steam and use the internal combustion engine instead. Pelican had for sale a second hand Leyland, one which had been used by John Smith’s brewery, or it would be more correct to say they had two, both with six cylinder petrol engines and double reduction back axles. The first trip was from Rossington to Lincoln for the spring fair and George was very anxious as he had not used the lorry before. The question in his mind was would the lorry get up Gringley hill with its three trailers. So he approached an AA man and asked if he could get to Lincoln and avoid the gill. The answer was yes, go by Gainsborough where it will all be level road. Although the roads were narrow, George easily got to Lincoln. In fact he got there before some others moving with just one wagon. And when they asked him how he had done it, with a straight face he asked just one question ‘Didn’t you see me pass you on Gringley Hill?’ It has to be remembered that even after the Second World War, some showmen were using Peerless and F.W.D. lorries that had seen service in the First War.
One of the lorries that Pelican had for sale was a Leyland Bull and the other a Leyland Buffalo. They were each priced at £71 second hand, but the trouble was that George could only afford one.
However, as he had bought the Gardner and could afford to pay for one Leyland, he was allowed to take both and settle up after the run of Easter fairs. He kept the lorries for 12 years and spent nothing them except for plugs, oil filters etc. George drove one lorry and Harry Leslie, his brother, the other. At this time they bought a set of Lakin dodgems from their uncle, Enoch Farrar at Hull Fair. And these needed plenty of work doing on them as they were in a rather run down condition. So, in 1937 they had the chairs and the dodgems. With no fairs of their own, the chairs were travelling the Tuby fair run, with Annie Tuby paying rent for her position. However the rest of the Tuby family were not too keen on the dodgems also standing on their fairs as they could see them taking the largest share of the money. So while Annie and her other sons continued with the Tuby fairs with the chairs, George Rhodes set out to build up a run with the dodgems they had bought. He used to travel a lot with John North, the man who bought the ex-Tuby Burrell, The Councillor. However, when the family sold it, it was to a scrap dealer. For while ‘Tom’ Tuby had let his son have The Councillor when he began to travel the chairs, George Edgar had occasion to borrow it, and the engine ran away with him and was severely damaged. And it was said that this incident destroyed George Edgar’s nerve, for he never drove one of the engines after this. And brother George Rhodes can understand that fear. For he had that experience when a driver missed a gear through not putting a block down and the engine, with George Rhodes the steersman, went with all the loads of. This happened in the Yorkshire village of Hickleton and as George puts it today, “We were off like hell there and went right through Goldthorpe before we stopped”. George Rhodes recalls that The Councillor was a two speed engine with small belly tanks so that it had to be filled up more often than the other family Burrells. So, with The Councillor gone, ‘Tom’ Tuby offered his son Norah and this engine was used until they acquired the Leylands.
Norah was stored in a pub yard down the Wakefield Road at Barnsley during the Second World War, and young George used to go to grease it and wrap all the brass work up when he was home.
Then it was suggested that the family took Norah back and young George lost all interest in it.If George Rhodes had been a steam man, it is possible that the engine would have cost his mother, brothers and himself £800. But he was looking forward to the end of hostilities when possible something like a tank transporter, which he believed could do more that steam engines, would become available. But with Norah seemingly destined to rejoin the other Tuby engines, George Rhodes turned his back on it and it stood, neglected and unwanted, and as Arthur Tuby recalls, no one remembered to go to pay for its storage, and when they did eventually arrive at the pub at Barnsley, the publican had sold it for £10 for scrap as payments of what he believed he was owed. While they had the two Leylands, George was looking to ex-Army transport for the dodgem in particular. The ride bought from Enoch Farrar was a Lakin steel dodgem, something that weighed about sixty tons. George Rhodes remembers that it had great wooden sills and was longer than the dodgems seen on the fairground today, a real one hundred footer. While he was at the fairground at Goole, during the dodgem restoration period, he made all the packing trucks for it. And these skills acquired on the fairs, were to stand him in good stead in the future. There was a two year period when Norah provided the power for the dodgem, George driving the engine. Then war was declared. The family were at Barnsley. Enoch Farrar was there and as George said he did a rather daft trick. He had a lighting set, a Fowler Sanders from Leeds, and he loaned it to the army, to illuminate a barracks. George remembers that there was a fair on Barnsley market place all through the war. The Tuby dodgems were there as was Enoch Farrar’s Waltzer and the Robinson’s Noahs Ark and Speedway. He bought an old quarry engine out of a quarry. But Enoch Farrar had nothing so Annie Tuby and her family helped out using the Gardner engine, which was mounted on one of the Leylands to run Enoch Farrar’s Waltzer and the Dodgem.
As George said, Enoch Farrar did all the spade work with the council for Annie Tuby to remain open on the market place during the war, so the least they could do was the spade work to help Mr Farrar to run. An, as George added, Enoch Farrar, whose wife was George Rhodes sister, had always been a good friend to his family
. When George bought the dodgems he offered to lend him an engine, but George only used it for getting the dodgems from Hull to Goole. Then he returned it and the packing trucks and made his own trucks at Goole. So, with the dodgems and the need for another run, his brother Harry Leslie and the others, stayed with their mother on the Tuby run with the Chairs and Harry Leslie’s own slot machines, and George Rhodes had to get out with the newly acquired ride and find a run of his own, looking after himself as he was not married then. Here he spent a lot of time travelling with John North. George Rhodes did two seasons with the sixty ton dodgems before the war using both Norah and one of the lorries, driving both himself before he could get a driver. The arrangement was that Mrs Tuby, George’s mother received half of what each of her sons took. And at one time they had four machines, the chairs, two sets of dodgems and an Ark. When Tom Harniess went to Canvey Island, George Rhodes went to London and bought a set of dodgems from a traveller called Pelham. He gave £500 for the dodgems, three trucks and a lorry which he now says was definitely not in first class condition. However, he was never destined to travel the ride. It was pulled into a farm at Bourne, Lincolnshire. There it stayed until it was sold to a friend of his, a member of the Bradford travelling family of Hursts. Scott Pullen now has the dodgem that changed hands because of another case of fairground loyalty. George Rhodes got blown down with Lakin dodgem at Rye Hill. It was one of those freak storms that you can do little about, they blow up without warning and the damage is done in minutes. This was on a Friday night and the fair was due to open on the Saturday. However, the damage to the dodgem was such that there appeared no chance of him being ready in time. However, Mr Hurst and his two sons worked with George Rhodes all through the night repairing the damage. As the darkness vanished with the morning light, the dodgem, although minus its cover, was ready for its customers. A relieved George Rhodes thanked his friend, but when he offered him payment for the night’s labour, he refused any money. And George Rhodes told him that if he could ever do him a favour he would. That chance came some time later. Arrangements had been made to sell the dodgems, but his friend from the storm damage night came along when George Rhodes was at a fair at Wombwell, and asked if he could buy them. There was no hesitation, and it changed hands at £200 less than George Rhodes had been offered in the first place. And George Rhodes is entitled to remember the transaction. For as he says, “He brought five hundred quid all in b…..y silver in a bag and dropped it on the wagon floor”. George delivered the ride to the buyers winter quarters at Brighouse and that was one dodgem gone to an appreciative showland family. The George and his brothers, during the war, bought an Ark. And it was called the ‘Duke of Sunderland’. This originated from the firm who sold it to the Tuby family. They were furniture manufacturers called ‘Duke’ and had it for publicity purposes, so they painted the name ‘Duke of Sunderland’ on the Ark. This was one of the small original arks, a 40′ or a 45′ machine. It had small rounding boards, but with being furniture manufacturers, they had made some larger boards for the front but they had never extended it out. The brothers all paid an equal share in buying it and then, when it travelled the one who took it out received half of the take and the other was split three ways between the brothers and their mother. The ‘Duke of Sunderland’ was in the care of George Rhodes’ elder brother throughout the war years. They had a yard in Stainforth and the Ark was taken out whenever there was an amusement gathering to go to. However, there was to be co chance of George Rhodes working among the machines to any extent during the war years. For with the fairs stopped when the hostilities started, it was a case of finding a job.