JOINT PRESS RELEASE: JoylandBooks.com and
Press Release: 1 March 2002
Margate Roller Coaster Becomes UK's First Ever Listed Amusement Park Ride
A report submitted to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by amusement park historians Nick Laister and David Page has resulted in a Margate roller coaster becoming a listed building, the first time a UK amusement park ride has been listed.
The ride in question is the Scenic Railway roller coaster, which has stood at Dreamland Amusement Park, Margate, since 1920. It has received a Grade II listing.
The campaign was lead by Nick Laister, an Oxfordshire-based Chartered Town Planner (and editor of Joyland Books.com), and David Page, a journalist (and editor of TheGalloper.com) based in Hertfordshire.
Nick Laister says: "Well over a hundred wooden roller coasters were built in this country between 1885 and 1960. Only nine of those rides now remain. What we are now seeing is an alarming number of amusement parks closing down or downsizing, and this is resulting in the loss of rides of historical significance. Once an amusement park site is redeveloped it is lost forever, and often to the detriment of the resort. I believe that now is the time to look again at our amusement park heritage and decide whether we actually want to preserve any part of it for future generations."
Nick Laister adds: "The Scenic Railway at Margate is the oldest operating roller coaster in the United Kingdom, and is nothing short of a remarkable survival. It is the only remaining ride of its type in original condition. If any ride deserves to be listed, this is the one. I am delighted that our report has resulted in the ride being listed and that it can now be enjoyed by future generations."
David Page says: "Due to changes in taste, economics and available choice, the decline in the British seaside resort has not only been sad to behold but also comparatively rapid. Developers these days don't need encouragement to move in on prime sites occupied by parks that have stood for almost a century in some cases.
"Dreamland at Margate is a case in point. The past few years have seen rapid erosion of its available space and there is every reason to believe that some or all of the park will soon be tossed into the dustbin of history in the name of 'progress'. Without listed building status I consider that the future of the Scenic Railway will be in doubt. The removal of this ride would almost completely wipe out this important part of British amusement park heritage."
Nick Laister adds: "It is disappointing that, to
date, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport had not listed any significant part of
our amusement park heritage. This oversight is, in my view, inexplicable."
The report was considered by Elain Harwood, Post-War Architectural Historian at the Government's historic building advisers, English Heritage, who recommended that the roller coaster is Grade II listed. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport accepted that recommendation, and the Scenic Railway should now be protected and enjoyed by generations to come.
For further information, or to organise interviews, please contact either Nick Laister on 01235 838200 (day), 07778 207036 (mobile) or 01235 762186 (evenings) or David Page on 01727 851462 (evenings).
Information for Editors
Amusement parks are an important part of Britain's social and economic culture, and are as popular here as they are in the USA.
Over 120 wooden roller coasters, the centrepiece of most amusement parks in the 20th Century, were built between 1885 and 1960. Only nine survive.
Only two 'Scenic Railway' roller coasters now survive, and the Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate, is the only one surviving intact.
The other surviving scenic railway is at the Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth, and was built in 1932.
The Scenic Railway at Dreamland is the oldest surviving roller coaster in the United Kingdom. Its age and rarity are major factors in support of its listing.
When a structure is listed it is placed on a statutory list of buildings of 'special architectural or historic interest' compiled by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of a building is carefully considered before any alterations are agreed. There are currently over 37,000 buildings and other structures protected by listing status. For more information on listed buildings, visit the English Heritage website on www.english-heritage.org.uk.
Nick Laister BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI MIHT is a leading authority on the UK theme park industry. He is a Chartered Town Planner and Technical Director with the RPS Group plc, and specialises in planning for tourism and leisure. He has been involved in a number of listed buildings and conservation cases, and has appeared as expert witness at several public inquiries and hearings. He has written articles for a number of newspapers and journals and has been invited to speak at conferences on the subject of planning for tourism and leisure. He is regularly interviewed on television and radio on the same subject. He is co-owner of Skelter Publishing LLP and editor of the web site www.joylandbooks.com.
David Page Bsc is a fairground historian and editor of the website www.thegalloper.com, which specialises in reporting vintage fairs and general preservation matters relating to fairs and amusement parks.
Dreamland Fun Park is located at Belgrave Road, Margate. The telephone number is 01843 227011.
The contact number for English Heritage is 0870 333 1181.
Further reading about amusement park and fairground history can be found at the specialist online bookstore www.joylandbooks.com. Regular articles on the subject appear monthly on the fairground preservation website www.thegalloper.com.
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