|Looking Back at Belle Vue
Belle Vue, Manchester, is no more. Although
the name survives as the name of the surrounding district, and is still used in connection
with certain facilities such as the Bowling Centre and Greyhound Stadium, the great zoo
and amusement park, so well known to generations, are now only a matter of history. Closed
down in stages in the years following 1977, the North's greatest entertainment site is
rapidly being obliterated by modern commercial and residential development.
|What was the historical significance of Belle Vue
and what should we remember it for? This question and more is answered in this excellent
publication, which traces the history of these pleasure gardens in words and pictures.
Belle Vue was famous for having the country's premier provincial zoo. The
Belle Vue Amusement Park was the largest inland amusement park in the UK, and housed
famous attractions such as the Scenic Railway Roller Coaster, the Water Chute and, most
notably, the Bobs Roller Coaster. Other attractions such as the fireworks display, the
Kings Hall, the Circus and the Speedway, are all well remembered and included in this
Historical facts are one thing, but the true significance of Belle
Vue lies in the sheer pleasure of the occasion that a visit to Belle Vue meant to the
millions that passed through its turnstiles.
In its various hey-days, Belle Vue tried to go
out of its way to cater for the enjoyment of ordinary people and to give good value for
money. Small wonder that children would anxiously tick off the days waiting for their
promised trip to Belle Vue, for once behind the forbidding perimeter walls, inside the
'Showground of the World' as it was once publicised, the visitor entered a totally
different world from that outside, constituting perhaps the nearest that Britain has
achieved to America's Disneyland.