Fortunately things have not always been like this at
Barry as the park has quite a bit of interesting
history behind it. In 1903 a small fairground opened
at Barry Island, at the eastern end of the beach.
This had swing boats, chair-o-planes and small
roundabouts, but the council put a stop to this in
1909, and required the beach to be formally leased.
The first major ride at Barry Island was the
Switchback Railway at the western end of the
Promenade. This opened in 1897 and was a rebuild of
the switchback from the Cardiff Exhibition of 1896.
In 1912, a much larger Figure Eight roller coaster
opened on the site of the present Pleasure Park, and
this took most of the business away from the
Switchback. The Switchback only managed another two
years; it finally closed in 1914.
When the Promenade was built in 1923, the Council
moved the fairground from the beach into a permanent
site adjacent to the Figure Eight. White Bros, who
had the beach lease, therefore were the first
tenants of the Pleasure Park, and remained there
from 1923 to 1929.
When White Bros tried to renew the lease in 1930,
they found that Pat Collins had outbid them. This
was in response to White Bros outbidding Collins at
the Evesham Pleasure Park. Just to rub salt into the
wounds, Collins actually named the Barry Island park
'Evesham Pleasure Park'.
White Bros moved across the road to a new site,
which they named Cosy Corner.
The Figure Eight coaster was demolished in 1939 and
replaced by the giant Scenic Railway (a rebuild of
the Scenic Railway from the 1938 Glasgow Empire
In the 1950s Pat Collins' brother, John, took over
and ran the fairground until 1966, when it was taken
over by John's sons John Jnr and Pat Jnr. In 1969
the brothers finally purchased the freehold of the
In 1973, the Scenic Railway was demolished and was
not replaced until 1980, when the present Log Flume
was built, although some of the timber from the
Scenic was used in the Wacky Goldmine ride (now the
In the 1990s, the park was sold to supermarket
operator Ken Rogers (the owner of the Hyper Value
chain). He invested in the park in the late 1990s,
completely refurbishing and remodelling it. Rogers
sadly died in 2000, and the park is now run by his
White's Cosy Corner finally closed in 1999, after
the remaining parts of the site were seriously
damaged by vandals. Cosy Corner had been the home to
one of the two 1937 Coronation Arks (which luckily
has been tucked away by one of England's best known
Things are different now of course. I've banged on
before about the decline of the coastal cousin of
the travelling fair, but despite recent investment
this park really takes the biscuit. And to think
people on holiday spend their hard-earned money
taking their kids to a place like this!
Not wishing to rush into judgement I bit my tongue
until we'd left, but when I asked the other half
(who invariably has the misfortune of trudging
around these places with me) what she thought the
reply was about as unambiguous as you can get: "It
was the worst I've ever seen." And this from someone
brought up in Southport!
Figure Eight roller coaster, which opened at Barry
Island in 1912.
Barry Island Pleasure Park, dominated by the 1939
Scenic Railway. The helter skelter just visible
behind is at White's Cosy Corner.
Picture: Nick Laister Collection
Barry Island Pleasure Park shortly after its late
1990s revamp by Ken Rogers. Picture:
Nick Laister Collection