by Phil Gould
: Added June 2010
North Promenade Boating Pool

This final site was never home to any great collection of amusements but I have included it as a matter of interest because of one of the attractions.

The main draw for visitors were the paddle and rowing boats on the lake but the site was also home to a handful of juvenile rides. One of these was the Jigsaw Train.

The train travelled around a winding track which was sunk below ground level. Instead of sitting in carriages passengers climbed into tubs. Once the ride started these tubs would spin round.

I know there were other examples of this ride at Peter Pan's Playground in neighbouring Southport and in Peter Pan's Playground Southend. When I visited Blackpool last year you could still see what remains of the boating pool. But it now operates as a go kart track.

This is the end of my brief stroll down memory lane looking at Blackpool's amusement parks which are no longer with us. With the renewed interest in the resort's history with events like Showzam maybe we might see a return of amusements to different parts of the town? Maybe Carters Steam Fair could bring some of their rides to Olympia for the event in 2011? In the meantime there are plenty of amusements to keep visitors occupied on the town's three piers and at its world famous Pleasure Beach. 


The Boating Pool on Blackpool's North Shore featured a Jigsaw Train. Some of the track can just be seen in this shot. Look at the bottom left hand corner and you can see a telegraph pole. Just to the right of this is the twisting sunken train track. Photograph: Nick Laister collection.

Do you have a photo of the Blackpool Jigsaw Train? Please send it to us. Southend's near-identical Jigsaw train remains at the Adventure Island Theme Park, formerly Peter Pan's Playground, pictured here in 2009. Photograph: Nick Laister.

Left: The Southend train with its rotating 'tub' cars pictured in 2009 after a refurbishment.

Your Comments
I have read The Magic Eye for some time now and always enjoy the articles/pictures published. I read with interest your latest one about Blackpool's other amusements. I remember them well and it's great to see them getting some recognition at last.

I am a dark ride fan and have fond memories of Blackpool's Ghost Trains in all of the venues mentioned and these are some of my memories of them. The Olympia had an unusual one in that it wasn't greatly themed and had an unusual track layout in the station. This was due to the presence of a large supporting girder by the out-doors causing the track to curve away then back to the main wall. The cars were olive green with a small skull & crossbones (with an eye patch) on the side and a metal bat on the low rise front. They were later painted purple in the mid 70s. There were illuminated 'castle-style bricks' on a black background and just one full size painting of the Frankenstein monster for theming in the station. Very 'pop art' really. An illuminated skull was also between 'ghost' and 'train' in the signage above. A great little ride and location, facing the Dodgems on the back wall. Somehow, indoor dark rides always seem spookier to me.

The late 60s opening of the Golden Mile Centre had another work of pop art in its double decker. This was the first instance of 'dayglo' paint being used on the exterior that I remember seeing. It was called the 'Roller Ghoster' and had Supercar 'bubble' cars. Again the first time I'd seen these before they became popular. A large spider, with red flashing eyes, in its web graced the back wall behind the drop and large eyes were dotted around the whole frontage including the one balcony on the right hand side. This was the first modern style 'ghostie' I remember. In later years the drop was taken away and a new frontage covered it. After it eventually closed a more traditional travelling style 'flat' ghost train was erected next to it before the Sea Life Centre took over.

For a short time in the early 70s there was also a travelling ghost train called The Bogey Run on the old Central Station site too.

Just for the record I remember the Pleasure Beach Ghost Train before it's 'castle' theming in the early 70s. It was unusual to see no theming on a ghost train and was very minimalist, with plain, dark blue walls, tiny spotlights on the ceiling and bright pink cars with a single skull on the front (later painted lilac on theming of the ride). It was a plain grey, concrete proscenium with just a small castle-ation across the roof. I thought it looked better actually. I was only a child but my memory is vivid. It was somehow spookier for having no theming. Strange but true. A real functional, modernist structure as Emberton intended.

The Olympia Fair and Golden Mile Centre are sad losses as they had an atmosphere to them that I loved.

Tony O'Keeffe

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More on Blackpool's 'other' attractions
Fun on the Sands
Blackpool Then and Now

From Lamp to Laser: The Story of the Blackpool Illuminations
John Burke's a-Musings
Winter Gardens Official Website
Blackpool SEALIFE (formerly Golden Mile Centre)

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