TRIBUTES have been paid to the man who brought a precious collection of historic fairground rides to deepest West Devon. 

Richard Sandercock, chairman of the Fairground Heritage Trust at Dingles near Lifton, died last weekend after a long illness. He was 79.

A civil engineer by profession, Richard, from Stoke Climsland, had a lifelong passion for steam locomotion.

He referred to Dingles as his ‘toy cupboard’. It was here he set up the Dingles Steam Museum, housing his impressive collection of traction engines, along with an eclectic exhibition of industrial and agricultural bygones.

Then he expanded into fairground memorabilia and rides when he stepped in some 20 years ago to bring an important national collection of vintage fairground rides to Dingles from their then home in Northampton.

The collection by the Fairground Heritage Trust needed a new home and was at risk of being broken up.

Richard brought them to Dingles, establishing the Dingles Fairground Museum. 

Guy Belshaw, trustee of the Fairground Heritage Trust said: ‘Few people have played such an important part in the trust’s history. Richard was instrumental in rescuing the Fairground Heritage Trust in early 2000s when it was on the brink of collapse. 

‘Had he not stepped in and financed the move to Devon, also providing the trust’s collection a home at his heritage attraction Dingles Steam Village, we would not be here today.

‘His leadership saw the establishment of Dingles Fairground Museum as one of Devon’s leading heritage attractions and a nationally recognised museum of standing.’

‘ Always pushing the trust forwards, he secured funding (as well as providing finance himself) for the Fairground Building in 2005 and more recently the  new museum  gallery totalling 50,000 square ft of floor space to exhibit the trust’s unique collections.

‘Richard stepped down as chairman prior to the pandemic but remained our landlord and again provided much support whilst we were forced to close and assisted our ability to reopen.

‘The trustees will warmly remember his wit and humour, as well as his unceasing support and we send our sincere condolences to all his family and friends at this difficult time.’