Allan Herschell, together with James Armitage,
created the Armitage-Herschell Company in 1873. 1888 they set up band organ
production in North Tonawanda, founding the North Tonawanda Barrel Organ
Factory. The company produced a range of barrel-organ based products, suited
for all ranges of fairground attraction. Armitage-Herschell remained in
operation until the early 1900s. The company carved many
portable steam driven carousels, made simple in style. Surviving steam riding
galleries are located in Mississippi and Maine. In 1901, Herschell left the
Herschell Armitage Company due to financial complications.
Herschell created the Herschell Spillman Company with his in-laws, the
Spillmans. The Herschell Spillman company started out creating and carving
carousels in a traditional style, but later branched out to create larger park
machines, such as elaborate carousels with many types of animals. Surviving
carousels can be found in California, Michigan, and Maryland.
The company later dropped Herschell's name and was known as the Spillman
Engineering Company. The company continued to make the same style of carousel,
although later it focused more on horses offering a few menagerie styled
machines. Surviving carousels can be seen in North Carolina and the Strong
National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
The last company Herschell created was his own, competing with the Spillman
Engineering Company, in 1915.
Herschell specialized in horses with rigid poses and portable machines, which
enabled them to be packed and shipped easily between towns making them
desirable for the carnival industry. Herschell produced over 3,000 carved
wooden carousels of various sizes, which were shipped all over the United
States and Canada, as well as other countries such as Mexico, South Africa,
The original factory is located on Thompson Street in North Tonawanda. It is
one of the last factory complexes in the United States which contained the
production of wooden carousels. The complex was expanded to meet the growing
company's needs. The restored building contains a large carving shop, a
woodworking shop, a paint shop, a storage area, an upholstery shop, a machine
shop and a roundhouse where the carousels were assembled and tested.
Herschell didn't create just carousel rides, but expanded to include a
variation of rides made for children and adults. He thought up the concept for
rides specialized for small children while The Twister, Hurricane, Flying
Bobs, and the massive Sky Wheel were all thrill rides designed for adults.
The company moved to Buffalo, New York, in the 1950s, and in 1971, it merged
with rival amusement ride builder Chance Manufacturing of Wichita Kansas.
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