News: December 2004 - February 2005

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.

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Monday, 28 February 2005

Nick Laister was interviewed by local radio KMFM.

Saturday, 26 February 2005

The Thanet Youth Council has joined the ever-expanding Save Dreamland Campaign. Thanet Youth Council is a group of 11-20 year olds who campaign for the issues that concern the youth in Thanet. Activities in the past have included running a national youth conference in Margate, involvement in policy making for Thanet District Council, giving local conferences for the development of citizenship in Thanet and attending protests for the ' No Airport at Cliffe' campaign. The TYC has received many negative responses towards the closure of Dreamland and is currently organising a petition and a liaison with owners of a similar park in Southend-on-Sea.

Friday, 25 February 2005

It is with regret that we inform you of the death of one of our most ardent campaign members, Jack Holmes, from the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE). Jack died, aged 71 years, on Wednesday 23rd February. Jack was very passionate about saving the Scenic Railway and paid his last visit to the ride on the last ACE trip to Dreamland in 1996.
 
As a tribute to Jack, we have included one of his letters to the Isle of Thanet Gazette, which was copied to us for possible publication. It followed the Gazette's editorial back in October 2003 that famously described the Save Dreamland Campaign as a "rather pathetic group of mourners". As always, Jack provided an eloquent response:

Jack is pictured here on an ECC trip to BonBon Land in Denmark, July 2003.
To the Editor:

(re: "The Sad Last Days of Dreamland")

What is sad about the writer's premature elegy to Dreamland is how myopic and provincial it is. I am one of many Americans that has travelled thousands of miles, at no small expense, on three occasions to ride Margate's Scenic Railway. Because it's an old roller coaster? Hardly. Is no one aware in Thanet-land that it's an internationally-known, uniquely-designed survivor. That there are only a precious few of these machines left in the world that use a brakeman and that have no underwheels? Would you destroy the beautiful first steam engines? The stone archways built by the Romans? Tear down Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square to build yet another mall?

No one in our 'pathetic' Save Dreamland movement expects a miracle overnight, nor are we lost in unrealistic nostalgia. But there IS hope on the horizon, and you need only to take off your blinders to see the obvious...

...Why can't the Thanet Gazette see that nearby Southend-on-Sea has prospered dramatically and reinvented itself due to the newly-owned, re-invested Adventure Island amusement park? Or a bit west and north of you, the city of Southport? Or how about San Diego's decaying Belmont Park, a seaside resort EXACTLY like yours ten years ago, with a crumbling park, a 70-year-old coaster and a city council ready to give up the ghost, that is now vibrantly restored and prosperous? Or is the rest of the world beyond your ken?
 
A well-respected international amusement consortium is interested in redeveloping Dreamland. What is 'pathetic' is not we enthusiasts who have spent thousands of hours, dollars and pounds on your town's behalf; it's your political inertia and journalistic defeatism that is doing Dreamland, and with it,
the town of Margate, in.

As a survivor of New York's 9/11, it takes guts to rebuild a dream. The world is watching to see if you have it.
 
Jack Holmes (Age 70; member of ACE, RCCGB and ECC)
New York City
 
Jack will be sadly missed by all his friends from the Save Dreamland Campaign.

Thursday, 17 February 2005

The Save Dreamland Campaign has received some further information on Dreamland's 2005 line-up. The Log Coaster, which operated at Gulliver's Land (Milton Keynes) between 1998 (when the ride was new) until 2004, may open at Dreamland for the 2005 season. The ride was to have opened at Beale Park near Reading for the 2005 season, but construction of the ride has been halted due to planning difficulties. In addition, we also understand that the Cottle & Austen Circus will operate at Dreamland for the six-week summer holiday period. There are also expected to be circuses at Dreamland at other times of the year during 2005.

Right: Dreamland's new Log Coaster operating at Gulliver's Land in 1999.

 

Monday, 14 February 2005

More news on Dreamland's 2005 season. It now seems likely that the Scenic Railway will operate throughout the 2005 season, but this isn't confirmed. We also understand that the rest of the rides will be operated on a token system, and Mr Ayers is considering a nominal charge to enter the park to ensure that a family atmosphere is maintained at all times. We understand that the park will be leased for a two-year period, and it may even also open on Bonfire Night and at Christmas!

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said: "This is fantastic news. I have spoken to Mr Ayers and his plans for Dreamland are encouraging and should revitalise the park for the new season. He is going to tidy up the park and hopes to return it to the top family attraction that it always was. He is committed to only operating top class rides at the park. New rides for the park this year could include a Drop Tower and the Top Buzz, both of which are major white knuckle rides. Discussions are continuing regarding the Scenic Railway, but our hope is that it will run for 2005."

"I am sure that the Save Dreamland Campaign will give Mr Ayers all the support we can, as it is of massive importance to Margate that the park continues to operate, following the disastrous start to the 2004 season when the park was closed until the end of July. We wish him the best of luck!"

Discuss this news story on our Forum

Sunday, 13 February 2005

The Save Dreamland Campaign has heard from a very reliable source within the amusement park industry that Dreamland will open for the 2005 season from 21 May until the end of September. We understand that a two-year lease on the park will shortly be signed by leading showman Harry Ayers. Until recently, Ayers leased several of his rides to Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park in Suffolk, but these are now being removed following the acquisition of the park by French theme park operator Grvin & Cie. The Campaign understands that Ayers' own rides, which include a Top Scan and Ali Baba, will be joined by other rides to replace those rides sold earlier this year to Henk Bembom. The 2005 line-up will apparently feature 12 big rides, plus other supporting rides, and there will be a "significant investment" in the park. We do not know whether Ayers will operate the Scenic Railway, which could either remain closed this year or, alternatively, be leased to another operator. We also understand that Ayers is hoping to extend the Dreamland lease to five years, but that is not confirmed. More news here as it breaks!

Friday, 4 February 2005

Several campaign members have noticed rides being removed from Dreamland over the past few days. We can reveal that the Wild Mouse and Regatta rides have been acquired by Henk Bembom, one of the former owners of Dreamland. Bembom is currently moving the rides to his Loudoun Castle Theme Park in Scotland.

This was covered in today's Thanet Gazette under the headline 'Dreamland rides are sold'.

In other news, also reported in the Gazette, the Inspector's report on the Isle of Thanet Local Plan Inquiry, which was held in June 2004, has been delayed. The report, which will consider the future of Dreamland, is not now expected until October.

Thursday, 20 January 2005

News has come to the Save Dreamland Campaign that the Dreamland Gallopers, which were sold to an operator in Tasmania, are for sale again. The ride is now steam driven. There is more information on the ride on this web page: http://fairgroundhistory.bravehost.com/. Perhaps this ride could come back to the UK and operate in the new, revitalised Dreamland? If you would like to contact the owner for more information, email the campaign and we will forward contact details.

Right: A recent photograph of the Dreamland gallopers in Tasmania. (Courtesy: Mark Money)

Friday, 31 December 2004

Missing the Scenic Railway during the closed season? With thanks to Adrian Whitcombe, you can now take a front seat ride from the comfort of your PC. Click here to go to Coasterz.co.uk, where you can watch a full, front seat ride on the Scenic in either Windows Media Player or Quicktime.

All the best for 2005!

Friday, 24 December 2004

Short Christmas message from Campaign Leader Nick Laister taken from the Save Dreamland Forum:

"Merry Christmas to all Campaign members!

Things have been quiet over the past couple of months on the campaign front and there is no news yet from the Public Inquiry. But fingers crossed for some good news in 2005! The Save Dreamland Campaign is here to stay until Dreamland is saved - the fight goes on... "

Keep checking back to this page as the Campaign gears up for new challenges in 2005.