|Blackpool Pleasure Beach:
A Century of Fun
One hundred years ago a small funfair
appeared on the sand dunes to the South of Blackpool, on the site of an old gypsy
encampment. Mr WG Bean had started what was to become one of the greatest amusement parks
in the world: Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
|The book begins by briefly chronicling the growth of
Blackpool as a seaside resort, but quickly moves on to the very beginning of Blackpool
Pleasure Beach. In a remarkably short space of time, the small collection of funfair rides
grew into a sizeable amusement park.
Due to the vision of
WG Bean, by the time of the First World War, the Pleasure Beach was already a major
attraction and many features which make it so unique today were already in place. Popular
rides of the early 1900s were Hiram Maxim's Flying Machine (still there to this day), the
Velvet Coaster and the River Caves.
The Pleasure Beach really flowered between 1919 and 1929, when
numerous major attractions such as the Big Dipper, Noah's Ark and Virginia Reel were
installed. Following Bean's death in 1929, his son in law, Leonard Thompson, took over the
It was during the Leonard Thompson years that so
many of the Pleasure Beach's famous attractions were opened, including the Grand National,
Fun House and Ice Drome. There were also many lesser known rides, most of which have long
since disappeared. All are covered in this book, with a huge variety of photographs, both
colour and black and white.
The book not only concentrates on the highs, it
also looks at the lows: the War years, the burning down of the huge Indian Theatre, and
the collapse of amusement parks in the USA are just a few of these. From 1976, Leonard
Thompson's son, Geoffrey, took control, and these years saw the introduction of many of
the park's most modern rides as Mr Thompson responded to the growth of the theme parks
with attractions such as the Revolution, Avalanche and - most famously of all - the Pepsi
Max Big One. It is clear from this book that Geoffrey Thompson possesses exactly the same
vision as his grandfather, and it is to his credit that the park has grown and prospered
over the past 25 years.
It is not possible to do justice to this book in
these few short words, as it is a mix of the attention to detail, the amazing stories and
anecdotes and, of course, the stunning pictures, that really lift this book above the
ordinary. It took a century for a serious book to be written about Blackpool Pleasure
Beach, but it was well worth the wait! Recommended.
|"This book is excellent. It has remarkable
pictures from when the Pleasure Beach started in 1896, up to 1996. It shows the big
attractions: the Big Dipper, Grand National, Rollercoaster, Avalanche, Revolution,
Steeplechase and Space Invader. It also gives great detail to the smaller rides: Haunted
Hotel, Vikingar and Flying Machines. It also shows rides that have been removed like the
Tokaydo Express, Tidal Wave and Cyclone.
Excellent value, excellent pictures and quality!"
Ashley Stanworth, February 2001