|HOME ARTICLES GALLERIES ABOUT US FORUM LINKS CONTACT JOYLAND BOOKS|
BOBS: GEORGE DREW REMEMBERS (PART FOUR)
Interview by Gary Radice
Article: Added October 2006
As if fate was at work here I was admitted free to Belle Vue on the final day due to the fact that the large gates at the Longsight entrance had been swung open to admit a large coach party of visiting speedway fans so I simply joined them and just walked in alongside. Naughty I know, but in hindsight - appropriate!
point here is that the cost of admission at the time was 2/6d,
the same as a ride on Bobs. Furthermore, it is notable that
during all the time I went to Belle Vue those costs often
I had total of
five rides on Bobs and just one on The Scenic Railway.
So, that was it. The end.
Move forward to the Manchester Evening News later the following week. There under the heading "BOBS TO GO" was a short news report of no more than a dozen or so lines which simply stated that Belle Vue's world-famous and record holding rollercoaster BOBS had closed for good and was to be advertised for sale.
Acting on intuition I went into a large newspaper shop in the city centre later the following week and browsed the latest edition of 'World's Fair'. There it was!
One of the
middle pages carried a half page advert complete with photo
advertising that Bobs was for sale and inviting approaches. "May
be seen operating by appointment". I kept the page from the
paper and indeed still have it.
daunted, advertise they did, and remarkably just into 1971 a
Manchester Evening News news report stated that a would be buyer
had been found! No details of this pending sale were mentioned
other than that a deal would be subject to planning permission
being granted at Whitley Bay where Bobs aspiring new owner
(unidentified) operated his business.
So, January 25th dawned. The Radio 4 'Today' morning programme carried a brief report presented by Jack deManio, in which the demolition contractor stated that "the job should take no more than four to six weeks". The 'Look North' TV news programme later that day also carried a report in which one of the trains was shown being smashed to bits with a sledge hammer. Heartbreaking.
As it turned out Fred Church's Bobs was made of tougher stuff and it was the middle of May before the destruction of Bobs was completed. Although I had no wish to see the destroyers at work I had occasion to pass down Hyde Road some six weeks after demolition commenced. Two thirds of the structure was still intact still with the proud signs - "BOBS" - still there either side of the highest point.
If anything is certain in this world one thing is that the destruction of Bobs was the huge nail in the coffin that spelt the end of Belle Vue. Within a few short years the Scenic Railway was closed, and subsequently demolished (no pretend sales attempt here). The Water Chute closed and demolished (parts sold to Blackpool Pleasure Beach where there was a rebuild in metal). Some of the smaller movable rides were sold off. The rest of the story including the eventual total closure of Belle Vue is now history.
As for myself, with the demolition of Bobs I was determined never to set foot in the place again - and I didn't. Mind you, Belle Vue in its heyday is the likes of something we can never ever see again.
Truly the NO
REPEAT RIDES sign will stay...forever.
"In the ‘60s I and a
few friends used to follow Derby County all over the country (before
away supporting became as popular as it did in the '70s). Back then
trains ran direct from Derby to Manchester Central and we used to
aim to get in Manchester around 12 if playing in or around
Manchester (Bury, Bolton or even in Liverpool). We always made our
way to the Shakespeare, on Fountain Street, for a pint or two of
their excellent Bass, then on the the match.
After the match it was always back to Belle Vue for a ride on the BOBS, then if the Speedway was on, go there, if not then another ride or two on the BOBS before heading back to the Shakespeare for a few pints of the aforementioned Bass before catching the mid-night ‘milk’ train back to Derby.
I was never one for roller coasters but one had to go on the BOBS otherwise one had never been to or through, Manchester. It was a must do thing.
What sad times
today, no direct trains Derby to Manchester, no Belle Vue, no BOBS,
please tell me that the Shakespeare still serves cask ale of the
Do you have
something to say about this article or perhaps some additional
email us! (Please note that any comments or information sent
may be edited prior to posting here).
|More on Belle Vue and its famous Bobs roller coaster|
Footage of the Bobs
in action (including on-ride) at YouTube
'Looking Back at Belle Vue': Book by Robert Nicholls
'The Belle Vue Story': Book by Robert Nicholls
'The Belle Vue Story': Book by Robert Nicholls - secondhand copies
'Belle Vue': Book by Jill Cronin
'Belle Vue': Book by Jill Cronin - secondhand copies
'Pocket Belle Vue: Manchester's Playground' by Heather Stackhouse and Daniel Hyams
'The History of the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens': DVD series
'The History of the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens': Video series
'The Elephant Who Walked to Manchester': Book by David Barnaby
'Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History': Book by Robert Preedy features the Bobs
'Roller Coasters: Shake, Rattle and Roll': Book by Robert Preedy features the Bobs
Information on the history of the Belle Vue Water Chute
The Water Chute in the glorious summer of 1976 (You Tube)
'Mad for it at Belle Vue: Taking in the scenery on Manchester's finest ride': Article by Nick Laister - coming soon
|About George Drew|