History: The Caterpillar is a circular ride with
a continuous string of cars completely covering an
undulating track. The ride was generally operated
quite fast and, once up to maximum speed, a canopy
would cover the cars, giving the ride the appearance
of a caterpillar. As this part of the ride would be
in darkness, Caterpillars were particularly popular
with young couples. While covered, wind machines
were often located at one point of the rotation to
enhance the experience.
Once a very popular ride found
at many amusement parks, there are only a few left
operating around the world.
The first Caterpillar was
imported to the UK by Dreamland owner Henry Iles.
Dreamland's Caterpillar (which was not believed to
be the first that Iles brought into the country)
operated from 1922 to the 1980s, after which it was
There is conflicting
information on the history of the Pleasureland
Caterpillar ride, which has been acquired for the
Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park. It was certainly
imported by Iles, as part of the same batch of rides
as the Dreamland Caterpillar. Some sources suggest
it was built in 1914, making the Caterpillar
Pleasureland's oldest ride. Although it would not
have been imported by Iles as early as 1914, it is
possible that it was built in Germany in 1914 and
imported by Iles later. Other sources state it was
built circa 1922, possibly in Coney Island, USA,
still making it one of the oldest operating rides of
its type in the world. Pleasureland owner, Geoffrey
Thompson, posted a request in World's Fair in the
late 1990s asking for more information on the
history of the ride.
There is further information
on the history of Caterpillar rides, including a
photograph of the Pleasureland Caterpillar, at the
National Fairground Archive website.
Dimensions: It has a
diameter of 60 feet, has 24 cars and can hold 96
Importance: This ride
is believed to be identical to the Caterpillar that
operated at Dreamland from 1922 to the 1980s (see
photograph on Page 17 of ‘Dreamland
Remembered’). It is also one of the only
surviving examples of its type.
Latest: Now in
storage for use in the Heritage Park.
If you have any further
information on the history of this ride, please