AN EXCITING new exhibition has opened its doors to the public at one of Carlisle’s most loved visitor attractions.

The Fantastic Fairground Factory at Tullie House offers families the chance to explore science in an interactive and immersive way.

From learning about the workings of pulleys, levers and ratchets, to building your own machines, there really is something for everyone - and excited children have been putting the show to the test with hopes high that it will be a summer hit.

Created by Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, the exhibition will run until October 6.

“There is plenty for people to spend time on,” explained the director and owner of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, Sarah Alexander. “Like the ‘make your own automata’, the helter-skelter marble run and the kaleidoscope. You can learn about gearing and gearing ratios, about different mechanisms.”

Automata are machines which perform a set of predetermined functions, as specified by coded instructions.

They can often be seen on factory assembly lines, where these machines are used instead of humans, in an effort to either speed up the manufacturing process or remove the risk of human error.

But as well as on assembly lines, they are also used to operate fairground rides, which is the focus of the latest Tullie House offering.

The exhibition - which started on June 29 - makes its debut at the Carlisle art gallery and museum.

The last time the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre produced a feature for the museum was in 2014.

The 59-year-old owner Sarah continued: “Five years later we have a new show, which is being shown for the first time at Tullie House.

“You can understand how the pieces are made and have a bit of fun thinking about how rides work, such as the light up ferris wheel and the kaleidoscope - real fairground fun.

“Some [of the installations] are quite new, some are about 30 years old.”

She is most proud of one area of the exhibition.

“The Spaceship is wonderful, because most of the automata are operated by push buttons, but this is operated by a handle. You have to wind the wheel so the spaceship is at a height of about 2.5 metres, before it then runs out of fuel and it falls back down again.”

There are also more interactive areas of the exhibition, which enable children to get hands on while learning about science.

“You can have a go at making your own automata or mechanical toy,” she explained. “There is also the helter-skelter marble run and things like Lego and Connect, as well as the gear wheels - which reveal your own future.”

A miniature figure of a man on horseback is also an interesting feature. The equestrian - made by artist Ron Fuller in 1984 - is one of the oldest pieces in the exhibition.

Automata in the collection have been created by 13 different artists, including Paul Spooner and Peter Markey, with their work being brought to life in a fairground atmosphere.

Charli Summers, programme manager at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Cabaret Mechanical Theatre again following 2014’s Mechanical Circus exhibition.

“The automata and interactive games really make art, science and engineering fun and accessible for our family audiences.

“We are looking forward to an exciting summer.”

Throughout the summer holidays there will also be family craft drop-ins between 1pm and 4pm, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Depending on the day you arrive, the craft sessions will follow a particular theme, such as fairground paper sculptures, carousel horses and festival masks.

For those interested in crafts, Relaxed sessions are bookable between 11am and 12pm every Tuesday during the summer holidays, for any families who may feel overwhelmed at the regular drop-in sessions.

The relaxed sessions will follow the same schedule as the regular drop-in sessions, but with more time and space for families.

On September 20 there will be a late opening of the exhibition, where people can experience the dark side of the fairground. The event will run from 7pm until late and tickets are priced at £10 or £8 for students.

Tickets for the regular exhibition are £6.50 for an adult, or £3 for a child.

Entry is free for annual ticket holders.