Pleasureland Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park
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Extract from the book:
With the change of name to White City and its relocation away from the Promenade, the area gained a respectability it had not enjoyed before. The amusement park was following in the footsteps of WG Bean’s Pleasure Beach at Blackpool. Bean disliked the term ‘fairground’ and, from 1905, was using the name of ‘Pleasure Beach’ to describe his Blackpool enterprise. The official holiday guides were already lauding the improvements thus far achieved. In the 1913 edition of the excellent Stephenson’s Guide produced with loving care on the presses of the local newspaper, the Southport Visiter, the description ran thus:
“Former visitors to Southport will remember the old Fair Ground, which consisted of dilapidated wooden shanties, Aunt Sallies, coconut shies and so forth. All this rubbish has been cleared away, and what is fittingly termed ‘The White City’ put in its place. The leading attractions of this new Fair Ground are unquestionably the Figure Eight (nearly a mile in length), the River Caves and the Helter-Skelter. It is unnecessary to dwell on the excitement which may be got out of these particular forms of recreation…altogether the attractions named enable either the visitor or the resident (not excluding the children) to enjoy a very happy hour under the best and most healthy conditions.”
Completed in time for a 1922 Easter opening, the Liverpool Evening Express of 6 April summed up the excitement of the new amusement park, now called ‘Pleasureland’:
“Visitors to Southport this Easter-tide will find a complete transformation of the fairground or ‘Pleasureland’ as it is now called. The Parks and Foreshore Committee of the Corporation have busied themselves throughout the winter in their endeavour to make Southport’s ‘fun fair’ one of the best in the country, and it is held that when Pleasureland is completed their ambition will have been realised…The whole of the grounds have been arranged in a tasteful manner, and the colour scheme of green and white adds considerably to the attractive appearance of the site. Southport has made a big step forward in its publicity scheme, and has now a full-time publicity and attractions manager.”  
Above: An aerial view of White City taken in 1920. The Figure-8 is approximately in the same spot as today’s Pinfari Wild Cat.
     


Above: The station entrance to the Figure Eight Railway was operated by Helters Limited until the end of the 1936 season. The company, partly controlled by Blackpool Pleasure Beach, replaced the ride in 1937, when Charles Paige’s Cyclone roller coaster opened on Good Friday 1937. The claim that the Figure Eight was the longest ride on Pleasureland, and frequently advertised as “Nearly a Mile in Length” in the Southport guidebooks of the time, was one of the many quaint exaggerations of the day.

 
Above: The civic ceremonial opening of Pleasureland in 1922, as the mayoral party savour the pleasures of the Whip.

Reviews

"Pleasureland Memories is a BRILLIANT book - I would personally thoroughly recommend it...If, like me, you enjoy amusement park history, the pictures in this book will leave you yearning for - and smiling at - the simpler more carefree times of days gone by. Nice one Joyland!"
Gary Radice, themagiceye

"At last a publication that really looks into the history of one of England's best loved amusement parks. Covering the early development of amusements in the seaside town of Southport, the book faithfully brings to life the highs and lows and growth of Pleasureland. Many never before seen photos accompany the detailed text, a must purchase for anyone interested in UK amusement history."
Roller Coaster Mayhem

"In this new, extremely well-designed book, the author, a freelance teacher with a lifelong connection with the town, relates the history of Pleasureland....The book is comprehensively illustrated and should appeal to anyone interested in the wider aspects of the amusement business."
Fairground Mercury, Vol 28, No 2

"Southport remains an interesting park, and its history is well worth reading."
Platform Magazine, Issue 82, November 2005

"Having worked at Southport Pleasureland for a number of years, albeit for Silcock's rather than Helter's or Thompson's, I found this book to be of great interest. Of course there are some claims of ride ownership and dates of events which I could query but overall I think the author has done a marvellous job."
Graham Stewart

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