Harry Lee Collection

Scope and Content

The Harry Lee Collection is a collection of photographs, posters and other documents relating to Steam Yacht which originally belonged to the Waddington family.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harry Lee's Obituary in the Fairground Mercury.

'One of the biggest contributions to the preservation of fairground artefacts must be the role played by Harry Lee. At a time when many steam-driven rides were being scrapped, fair organs tipped off their trucks and burned and carved work reduced to ashes to retrieve goldleaf, Harry retained his faith in the old time attractions. He was pioneer in the field of steam preservation: when he brought the Yachts out again after the Second World War the steam movement was yet to be born.

Closely related to both the Leeds and Bradford Waddington families, Harry was brought up on the fairgrounds, although his father had settled by the time Harry grew up. Having lost his job in the mills following the Wall Street Crash, it was only natural that he should follow his roots; after a journey down to East Anglia he found his aunt and uncle travelling the 1914 Savage Yachts. He stayed with them for most of the inter-war years, also spending one season with Jervis' similar machine.

During the war he served in the Durham Light Infantry, but a road accident saved him from serving in North Africa. When he was demobbed he returned to Bradford and found the original Waddington Yachts packed away on Bowling Fairground. His marriage to Cilla Waddington secured the machine, and despite the shortages of post-war Britain, he set to rebuilding the machine.

His contribution to the field not only saved the set of Yachts (now in Fred Coupland's ownership), but by rescuing parts as they became available, it allowed John Carter to return the ex-Joe Ling set to steam. His collection of photographs must also be the most comprehensive record of the ride to exist. Fortunately much of his life story was recorded in his memoirs, published last year by the Fairground Society.

Many people have their own memories of Harry. For me it was the arduous work involved when the close of three busy days at Nottingham arrived, and the Yachts would be pulled down on Saturday night, in two journeys loaded through to Hull on Sunday, and be built up again ready to open by tea-time on Monday. I am lucky enough to be able to remember there being two sets of Yachts at Hull, but Harry always bragged about the year he saw five sets all built up at the fair.

It is a sad loss: Harry supported every society who shared his love for the old time amusements. He was a founder member of the Fair Organ Preservation Society and of the Fairground Society. He was also a member of the FAGB from its early days and was frequently to be seen at our socials, where people had the opportunity to listen to his wonderful tales of travelling in the old days, or picking his brains for details of sets of Yachts. One thing, however, is reassuring: as long as the Yachts survive, no-one will ever forget Harry Lee.'

Stephen Smith

Fairground Mercury, vol. 20, no. 1, June 1997


Catalogued according to type

Access Information

The photographs make up part of the image database collection which is available to view by appointment in the NFA reading room. Other items are currently being catalogued and are unable to be viewed at present.

Acquisition Information

Donated by his brother, Mr K Lee

Other Finding Aids

Images available on the digital image database in the NFA. Some items are listed. Contact the NFA for further details.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Jane Donaldson

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of National Fairground Archive, subject to copyright law and the condition of the item.

Related Material

Shufflebottom Family Collection


Personal Names