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GOING, GOING, GONE: THE ORIGINAL SOUTHPORT PLEASURELAND (PAGE 4)
by G Radice/H Booth/P Gould/P Grimshaw/R Houghton/D Jones/Kate/M Pavion
Article
: Added 2004 to 2007

Phil Gould: Memories

"I remember visiting the park as a teenager with a group of friends and we managed to go on every big ride (including two waltzers!).

"I did feel a little sick by the time we got to our last ride of the day - the Hurricane Jets. These days 10 seconds on a waltzer would have me running for the nearest bin.

"We also went inside the Noah's Ark and The Trip To The Moon, a dark ride close by which has small spinning cars on it. I think these might be on the park's current Ghost Train, although they no longer spin.

"I also recall the first time I saw the Tri Star. It wasn't at Southport but at Knutsford Royal May Day Fair. Three of us managed to squeeze into one car, we had never been on a ride like it in our lives before."

From Liverpool Daily Post:

2 entry fee sees slump in visitors to Pleasureland
Aug 10 2006
By Graham Davies
 
SOUTHPORT Pleasureland has experienced a 76% slump in visitor numbers since introducing entry fees, it emerged last night.
The seafront theme park saw numbers drop from 2.1m in 2004 to 500,000 last year after it changed its admission policy, according to tourist board figures.

But executives at the fair - which saw a 500,000 investment programme for this year's season - say the statistics do not point to a downturn in business.

Spokeswoman Helen O'Neill told the Daily Post: "In September 2004, we decided to introduce an admission charge of 2.

"Previously, we had been a totally free tourist attraction. People could enter the grounds without paying and then buy a wristband to go on the rides.

"But so many people would wander on to the site without using the rides, or just use the toilets, that we decided to bring in the charges.

"We were acting like a public service for people coming off the beach and we decided that someone had to pay the cleaners. That's why the figures are showing the decrease."

The statistics were revealed in tourist board Visit Britain's lists of the country's most popular tourist attractions.

Visit Britain divided the lists into two categories for free attractions and paid-for attractions. Pleasureland was put in the latter, although it was a free theme park for some of that time.

Despite showing the decrease, the figures revealed Pleasureland - owned by Blackpool Pleasure Beach - was the fourth most popular paid-for attraction in the North West.

Ms O'Neill said: "Lists like this are very useful, but it is not an exact science. I am not sure how people qualify to be put in certain categories."

She added: "This year we have brought in the new Chairoplanes ride, paintballing and a big wheel, so we are still investing in Pleasureland. It is just that we have changed the pricing structure.

"There has not been a downturn in business."

Kate: Memories

Memories of PLEASURELAND? Gosh! Where to begin?

I grew up in Southport. My brother was born there and despite living in the West Midlands for 40yrs Southport is still where I feel I belong. Roots!! 

After we left in the 60s we still went back every year. We had close friends there and I would go back on my own sometimes. Then when my son was born I took him every year.

He grew up. My parents died but I still returned faithfully to Southport every year.

It always makes me sad to see things I identified with childhood have been either left to decay or are ready to be demolished.

Progress is a fact of life and new things are part of that development but do we always have to destroy everything that has "age" on its side in the name of progress and regeneration?      

Going to PLEASURELAND was always magical for me and when I got older it was magic of a different kind... It didn't matter what problems I had in any part of my life because PLEASURELAND's magic never failed.

It would start on the walk to the "fair" - the closer you got as you walked across the bridges of the lake, the more excited you'd feel! The noise of the rides, squeals of delight and that unmistakable sound of the chain pulling THE CYCLONE cars up the lift hill, followed by a short silence, then the screams and the noise of the car rushing up and down the ride...From being a child on the small rides through to a middle aged woman, I always felt uplifted by PLEASURELAND'S magic!

In the last few years I did more people watching in the park whilst enjoying some refreshment rather than doing all the rides - but that too was lovely. I'd smile and even found myself laughing out loud as I heard screams and squeals from young people hurtling up and down, round and round.

I still find it almost unbearable to think that those magical times have been taken away. No longer will I be able to escape the realities of life for a few hours in that happy, happy place.

I guess I never gave it a thought that my grandchildren would not have the chance to make their own memories there...Now there are just pictures and stories.

Southport Pleasureland closed for good on 5th September 2006

Official Statement: September 6th 2006

It is with regret that the Directors of Pleasureland Ltd announce the closure of their Pleasureland Amusement Park. We are extremely saddened to have to make this announcement, especially as our hard-working and loyal team here has helped us so much in our endeavours over the years.

Pleasureland has proved unsustainable as a ride park, despite our repeated significant investments in capital attractions. These include the 5million TRAUMAtizer roller coaster, the Space Shot vertical drop ride, and the Casablanca Family Entertainment Centre, none of which sadly has generated a return on capital.

It must be acknowledged that the UK theme park industry as a whole is facing increased competition from publicly-funded and lottery-funded attractions which have significantly distorted the visitor attractions market. This situation has been compounded by our weekend trading now competing with extended Sunday shopping rules and Sunday sporting events.

We recognise that Pleasureland has long been an integral part of the resort and we will be working closely with Sefton Council to discuss a practicable future for the site. Our immediate efforts will now be with our staff; our Human Resources team will be working together with external agencies to help and advise them as much as we possibly can, at what is a difficult time for all of us involved.


A colourful postcard of Pleasureland. Photograph: Gary Radice Collection


The Jackson Waltzer in 1980. Photograph: Phil Gould


Silcock's Waltzer in 1980. Photograph: Phil Gould

 

 

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