“Solly” Macintosh, owner of Fun City, dies aged 91

Solly Macintosh was born into the showman world. Picture: Contributed
Solly Macintosh was born into the showman world. Picture: Contributed
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SOLOMON “Solly” Macintosh, a showman and owner of the Fun City fairground in Portobello, has died, aged 91.

Born on 19 February, 1924, in Caldercruix, Lanarkshire, Solly was brought up travelling around Scotland with his showman father Thomas Macintosh, and Irish mother Eveline Macintosh (née Paulo), a tightrope walker in the itinerant Paulo’s Circus.

When he was 19 he was called up to fight in World War Two, serving with the Royal Corps of Signals and helping provide battlefield communications and information systems, until his officers noted his talent for singing and posted him to entertain the troops in India and Singapore.

After the war he returned to help run the family business of Fun City.

When Fun City was founded at the turn of the 20th century by his wife’s grandfather, part of the Italian-Scottish Codona family, it was the first fairground in Scotland – and the second in the UK – on a permanent site, closing only in winter.

In 1947 he married Cathie Butcher, a marriage that would last nearly 60 years until her death in 2007.

From the late 1960s, Macintosh had his own stalls in Fun City as well as a popular prize bingo hall on Portobello High Street. He also worked as a PE instructor before gaining joint-ownership of Fun City with a partner, Sammy Evans, in 1971. After a disagreement, they put the fairground up for auction at Dowell’s auction house in George Street in 1974, with all of Scotland’s carnival families bidding. Determined to keep it as a fairground, Macintosh bought it back as sole owner for £63,000, a small fortune at the time.

Solly did his best to keep the fairground going in the shadow of the historic Portobello pottery kilns, but after his retirement in 1986, Fun City gradually passed its sell-by date and ground to a close. To Macintosh’s chagrin, his beloved Fun City became derelict and littered with empty Tennent’s bottles or dog mess until it was cleaned up and replaced by blocks of flats.

After selling Fun City, Solly spent his time travelling, not as a showman but as a tourist with Cathie. He was a member of Duddingston Golf Club for 40 years and played until he was 87.

He was an extremely talented man, turning his hand to anything, notably carpentry. He was also a talented artist, painting many fairground machines and backdrops during his career. His art work was mentioned in a book of showman’s art, and students from Edinburgh College of Art regularly arrived at Fun City to study and photograph his paintings. He kept up his singing throughout his life and became an accomplished drummer. All of that brought him the nickname “Super Sol”.

He died on May 3 in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital. He is survived by daughter Becca, her husband, David, and grandsons Cameron and Lewis.