Interview by Gary Radice
: Added October 2006
To this day, 35 years after its demolition, Manchester's Belle Vue Bobs remains one of the most highly rated, important and revered roller coasters ever to be built in the UK. The greatest ride themagiceye never rode is brought alive on the next few pages courtesy of George Drew's memories.
So when and how did I first come to ride a rollercoaster? If not at Belle Vue it just had to be Blackpool Pleasure Beach! 
In those early post war years I suppose we were lucky that dad decided we could afford a holiday (just about!). So off we trooped to the obviously perfect destination of Blackpool, and the austere accommodation of what was the Squires Gate Holiday Camp...Worse than Hi-de -Hi and I hated it!
The whole week to me had only two highlights: Blackpool Tower and top of the bill for me - The Pleasure Beach. 
So my first ever rollercoaster ride? Why, what else for a kid but The Little Dipper - now known as the Zipper Dipper. Apparently I turned on the waterworks relentlessly in order to get Dad to part with more cash so I could ride again and again. 
So my love for all the big coasters and my long years of fun at Belle Vue really came out of those marvellous early years. Even now whenever I am at Blackpool Pleasure Beach I always take a nostalgic walk over to Zipper Dipper, stand a while, and recall that wonderful day all those years ago.

The thing of which I am certain is that fun rides must be definitely in the family blood. My maternal Grandfather, who unfortunately I never knew, worked for a number of years at Manchester's old White City as a maintenance man and operator on their Figure Eight ride. Now that's a good starting point if ever there was one!

My father and his brother were both involved in the pioneering days of Belle Vue Speedway so my dad had the good fortune to be around and about at Belle Vue in the late 1920s  - and what a time that was! The Scenic Railway was new there in 1926, followed by the sensational Bobs in 1929!

Throughout the years of my love affair with this ride (and it WAS a love affair) it was virtually invariably referred to in all publicity and signage as 'Bobs' or ' Bobs Coaster'  - very rarely preceded by a definite article. Truly a stand alone ride!

How well I remember being taken along with my sister to Belle Vue by Mum on many occasions. Restricted as kiddies to the more juvenile amusements, I can well recall standing holding Mum's hat and handbag as she would ride both Scenic Railway and Bobs several times on each visit!  
As I gradually grew more aware of what those rides were all about and watched Bobs roar majestically round those curves over the station my yearning to ride must have grown and grown!

For my information about the earlier history of Bobs Coaster, I will be forever indebted to my late father and uncle, both of whom were fortuitously involved as riders in the pioneering years of the Belle Vue Speedway from 1928 onwards.

At a time like this (September 2006) it is particularly sad to be writing of the life and death of what was undoubtedly the greatest rollercoaster ever to be built in Great Britain. Even now as I write these words one of the few remaining Charlie Paige coasters (The Cyclone) is going through the agony of destruction at Southport.

Bobs reigned supreme at Belle Vue Manchester from 1929 until 1970.

George Drew

The Bobs in action. Image: John McCard, courtesy of Justin Garvanovic of the European Coaster Club (www.coasterclub.org)

The Cyclone at Pleasureland (Southport, Merseyside) pictured on 8 September 2006 shortly before demolition. Courtesy: Gary Radice.



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