|Roller Coasters: Their
Why have roller coasters remained the most
popular amusement park ride since their invention over a century ago? Is it our love of
speed, bravado, primeval fear or simply a reaction against our organised way of life?
|This quest for thrills has been gathering pace ever
since the Russian Ice Slide of 1750. European pioneers took this a stage further when a
simple wheeled coaster opened in Paris around 1804. This was Les Montagnes Russes (Russian
Mountains). Paris could rightly be called the birthplace of the modern coaster.
What is particularly interesting about this ride is that after an accident
the popularity of the coaster actually increased!
But it was the Americans who took the idea and sold it around the
While cowboys were still taming the west,
inventors in the east around New York were perfecting switchbacks (1884), Figure Eights
(1886) and Scenic Railways from 1887. La Marcus Thompson wasn't the originator, but he can
certainly take the credit for marketing each successive invention.
Here in Britain switchbacks arrived within
months of being premiered at Coney Island. The very first was at Skegness in the spring of
A forerunner of Blackpool Pleasure Beach's
"Revolution" appeared at Crystal Palace in 1902. This was the Loop the Loop
which had more people watching it than actually paying to ride.
Old ideas continue to be reinvented. The
"Avalanche" at Blackpool has its origins in the Flying Turns, a John
Miller/Norman Bartlett ride of 1929. And a twin-track coaster appeared at the 1924 Wembley
Exhibition, predating Blackpool's "Grand National" by ten years.
The amusement parks featured in this book
Barry Island Pleasure Park
Battersea Fun Fair
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
Belle Vue, Manchester
Morecambe Pleasure Park
The Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea
Author Robert Preedy first became fascinated by
coasters during a visit to Southport. Twenty years after that visit, this book presents
the story so far. Further research has uncovered more facts, and these are presented in
the second book by Robert Preedy on the subject of roller coasters, Roller Coasters: Shake, Rattle and Roll. Roller Coasters:
Their Amazing History represents the first detailed telling of the story of these