|HOME ARTICLES GALLERIES ABOUT US FORUM LINKS CONTACT JOYLAND BOOKS|
BOBS: GEORGE DREW REMEMBERS (PART THREE)
Interview by Gary Radice
Article: Added October 2006
Bobs operated with a total of two trains during busy times. Both were of noticeably heavy construction, and could carry a maximum of 20 riders each, seated in pairs. Each of the ten double seats was articulately hinged both vertically and horizontally - they had to be in order to get around Bobs's tight and steeply banked bends.
One of the trains
was painted in a dark red, the other in a dullish blue with just
a hint of turquoise, and although repainted several times over
the years these colours were retained for all but the final
years of operation. Never at any time were the trains
Bobs, not surprisingly, met with immediate success and remained so through the years.
A further interesting point is that alongside the pay box was painted the slogan, "Mile a Minute!", an early example of roller coaster exaggeration as the track length was somewhat less than a mile!
Just one more oddity about the station was that the alighting end of the platform was roofed over whilst those waiting to ride remained unprotected from the elements! Actually there was a very good reason for this - the speeding trains made two great sweeping passes across the back of the station accompanied by the classic Bobs R-O-A-R! This is a sound I have never heard equalled by any other coaster! This all added to the thrill of anticipation - or fear - felt by those waiting!
So the 1930s went by and into the 1940s and it was in the latter years of that decade that I was able to take my first rides. Each seat on Bobs had a full width locking lap-bar for the two riders, and had been so equipped since the beginning. In those halcyon days there were no warning signs about minimum height and the like; the attendants just eyed you up and if to them you looked OK, you were on your way!
And what a
ride, impossible to describe on paper, but needless to say I was
The cost of my first ride was 1/- (a 'bob' or 5p). There was no reduction for children, so it was a lot for me, but Mum was paying so it didn't matter!
As the trains
came to a halt the lap bar would unlock and lift away
automatically without the need for pushing - a push forward of
the bar I find to be the required norm on other coasters.
The years went by and into my teens...
I would make many trips to Belle Vue either alone or with friends just to ride Bobs, although whilst there I would go on the other rides, particularly The Scenic Railway - a fine ride in its own right without which Bobs may never have been created.
By 1954, the cost of a Bobs' ride was 1/6d; although during quiet times a repeat ride was available for 1/-. By the beginning of the sixties the cost had increased to 2/- (repeat 1/6d). Needless to say my visits to Belle Vue continued unabated.
Although the trains and station were regularly re-painted in their original colours, the same could not be said for the structure as a whole. Apart for a few of the uprights adjacent to the station which were repainted in white at odd times, the rest of the paintwork was allowed to fade. The deep bottle green had faded to a dull greyish blue, and in some small areas had peeled away completely. All this added to the air of menace exuded by Bobs.
I might add
that I was assured by regular staff on the ride that everything
was perfectly safe as all the vital structure was built from
wood that had been well seasoned and treated with high quality
The trains didn't escape this flower power treatment, one being painted a striking poppy red and the other a vivid canary yellow! The rest of the ride remained mostly in its faded bluish grey.
Also, I suppose in keeping with the times, the price of a "go" was increased to half-a-crown (2/6d) with repeats at 2/-. These prices were to remain until the very end, and thus were the final (and highest) ever to be charged for a ride on the illustrious Bobs.
The new colour
scheme was also to remain until the final closure.
During that year I had made about seven trips to Belle Vue by September, and as October neared its end I realised that I must have a final visit for that year. This I did - alone - on the final day of the amusement park operation for that year, which was Saturday, 31st October.
Little did I know that not only was this to be my last ever day of riding Bobs, but also the day of my last ever visit to Belle Vue...