Fair organs were originally built to attract punters at fairgrounds, usually on rides, and they were traditionally moved from fair to fair on wooden-wheeled trailers, possibly pulled by steam traction engines. They were robust enough to play non-stop throughout the day, for days on end for the duration of each fair. They are now mostly seen on gallopers, but in the past - and indeed in antique fairs now - on chairoplanes, steam yachts and others, and also in preservation. Irvin's 89-key Marenghi, pictured here, was still in fairground use until relatively recently. This photo was taken at Abingdon Street Fair c1984, and is the subject of a restoration article on this site.
As these organs were designed to play AT the public - to be heard above the general noise of the fair, their pipework usually included multiple ranks of the "violin" and "trumpet" types. The four kinds of fair organ I built from scratch are detailed here: