News: January 2004
In January 2003 the owner of Dreamland, Jimmy Godden, announced the closure of Dreamland. The park is to be redeveloped as "leisure boxes, some retail and a supermarket". Joyland Books will provide updates on the campaign to save Dreamland and its internationally-important Scenic Railway ride.
Sunday, 25 January 2004
We also receive regular emails from people asking about Jimmy Godden's other park, Rotunda Amusement Park at Folkestone, home of the 1922 Runaway Coaster. Click here for a Photo Gallery showing the current state of the park. If you want to see more photos of Dreamland, visit our new Photo Gallery Index, giving you access to our expanding library of Dreamland photos.
If you have any Dreamland photos that we could use in the Gallery, especially photographs of the park before it was acquired by Jimmy Godden, please email us.
And don't forget, you can discuss all the above in our lively Save Dreamland Forum.
Friday, 9 January 2004
Today's Thanet Gazette newspaper reports the news that former councillor Colin Kiddell faces theft charges.
Thursday, 8 January 2004
Further confirmation is received today that Dreamland is a viable tourist attraction. Park World, the theme park industry magazine, includes an interview with David Wallis, who operated the park for the 2003 season. In the article, titled 'Keeping the Dream Alive', Wallis is asked whether he would go back again if the park were still there come Spring 2004. Wallis answers: "Oh yeah, definitely, we'd have a go at it again, but I don't know what's happening for next year."
The article concludes with the following comment from editor Owen Ralph: "Rumours persist that a major European operator is interested in buying Dreamland, but they are likely to offer significantly less to run the facility as a going concern than a developer would give to acquire the land outright and turn it into something new, most likely a mix of retail, leisure and housing."
A separate feature, titles 'The Scenic Saga' is an interview with Scenic Railway brakeman Dave Collard, who operated the ride for most of 2003. He is quoted in the article as saying: "Despite all the problems [this is a reference to the departure of Colin Kiddell and the police investigation into suspected theft of money raised by the Scenic Railway Trust], it worked out very well and easily paid for itself, with quite a bit left over."
Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, commented on this news today:
"This is yet more good news for Margate. We already knew that more than one established theme park operator wants to buy the site and invest in its rides and attractions. We now have further confirmation that this important tourist attraction is a viable business. The very person who operated it this year has now confirmed that he would do it again next year. He would not be doing that if the park doesn't make money.
"And further confirmation from Dave Collard that the Scenic Railway, operated as a separate concession, can more than pay its way is very welcome news indeed. Park World very cleverly identifies the only real issue that we have to deal with now. We now know the park is viable; that is no longer the issue. Park World correctly identifies that land values are the only issue remaining. We now call on the Council - with all the evidence now available to it - to stand firm in its rejection of retail on the site. In 2004, we now know that Dreamland and the Scenic Railway can be saved, there is no need for Margate to lose the one thing that brings in hundreds of thousands of people to the town. With all these market leading operators wanting to buy the site, I very much hope that we can now look forward to an exciting future for Margate as a tourist destination. "
Thanet Police has today announced that Colin Kiddell has been charged with the theft of an unknown quantity of cash from the Scenic Railway Trust. His case will be heard at Thanet Magistrates Court, Margate on 16 January. The news is carried by BBC News. As stated in the BBC report, the Save Dreamland Campaign is a separate organisation and is not affected. Click here for other recent BBC News reports on Dreamland.
Saturday, 3 January 2004
We have added a new Photo Gallery to the website. Following on from the success of The Bembom Years gallery, we have now added The Godden Years. This looks at some of the most famous rides to have appeared at the park since 1996. There is also the opportunity to buy large 10"x8" prints and other gifts. Click here for the Gallery.
Friday, 2 January 2004
Message from Campaign Leader Nick Laister: "Happy New Year to all our members. It is now a year since it was announced that Dreamland is to close and be redeveloped as a supermarket and shops. The Save Dreamland Campaign has grown significantly in size over the year, and we have come a very long way in getting our message across. At the start of the year, we were told that Dreamland is no longer viable so it has to close. Disappointingly, the Council seemed to accept that. Since that time, our members have been working hard to prove that is not the case, and I think we have now proved it beyond any doubt. Several amusement park operators have expressed an interest in buying the park and investing in it. And we know that more than one operator has made an offer. There is now no reason whatsoever for the Council to grant planning permission for a change of use of this important tourist attraction to retail. We are pleased that the Council has said a clear "no" to retail through the Local Plan review. We thank the Council for that commitment.
"We also know that the park's most famous symbol, the Grade II listed Scenic Railway, is viable. That has been proved this year, when it was operated as a concession and made a profit. This ride should form the centrepiece of a revitalised amusement park. It is important to Margate's heritage and it is known the world over. It simply can't be lost.
"Dreamland is still attracting 700,000 visitors a year, even in its current run-down state. We are certain that with a new operator, Dreamland could easily top 1,000,000 visitors. As Margate's biggest tourist attraction, that can make a real difference to the prosperity of the town. Dreamland is hugely important to Margate if it is to continue as a seaside resort, and the Scenic Railway is of international importance. We aren't going away until they are both in safe hands.
"Thanks again and all the best for 2004.