December 2002, themagiceye contacted Nick Laister
for an update on the story and he very kindly
Have you had any feedback from your actions?
I have had a lot of people emailing me in support. I
haven't had any negative feedback (yet!). English
Heritage have been very positive, and have invited
me to come back with a more comprehensive list.
Good Press/Bad Press?
The press has all been very positive.
For me, the best thing I read was an article in The
Guardian about Dreamland and amusement park history
in general. It took a really affectionate angle on
ride heritage, and demonstrated very well how
important this small part of our country's heritage
is, and how retaining some of it is better than
having a housing estate or a supermarket in its
place. (The story is still on the internet: Here is
Has the owner been in touch?
And then in early January 2003 the following story
featured in the local BBC Kent news...
DREAMLAND FUN PARK SET TO CLOSE
"Margate's famous Dreamland Fun Park looks unlikely
to continue beyond this year"
It (Dreamland) is under the same ownership as the
Rotunda park in Folkestone, part of which is already
being demolished to make way for shops, flats and
indoor leisure facilities.
Owner Jim Godden said Dreamland would probably have
to go much the same way and is considering replacing
the rides with shops and indoor leisure facilities.
"The park is far too large for Margate as we know it
today. We are looking towards a similar type of
operation as Folkestone, without the residential
"We can incorporate some leisure boxes, some retail
and a supermarket but retain the Dreamland tower
which houses the cinema complex, the cash bingo and
the Chinese restaurant," Mr Godden explained.
Although no formal planning application has yet been
submitted, Thanet Council's leader Richard Nicholson
said change might be difficult to stop.
"We have to face the fact that, whilst we could
refuse anything that does affect Dreamland Leisure
Park, Mr Godden is quite entitled to close it.
"What we donít want to end up with is a closed
leisure park steadily going into dereliction within
the centre of Margate and near the seafront."
...and the response...
"The Scenic Railway is the
oldest roller coaster in Britain
at 83 years old (as at 2003),
and is one of only two surviving
scenic railway coasters.
I am concerned that members of
Thanet Council already seem to
have accepted that closure is
I find it astonishing that the
closure of Dreamland could be
seen as a benefit to Margate.
Dreamland is the only major
seaside fun park in this part of
the country. If it closes, what
will bring the people to
Margate? Retail boxes and a
supermarket? You can see these
in any town in Britain, you
don't have to go to Margate."
Nick Laister, 6/1/03."
Then on 7/1/03 Nick set out his stall. He was to
fight the proposals. The following extract is from
"As a planning consultant, I am involved in
this type of work every day. There are a
number of avenues open to us to save the
ride and to save some or all of this popular
I propose to use my experience of the
planning system to fight these proposals.
I believe that the loss of Dreamland is
completely unnecessary, and is only being
brought about as the result of the present
owner, Jimmy Godden, retiring.
The loss of the park would be a huge
blow for Margate's tourism industry. The
Scenic Railway is the single most important
ride in Britain in terms of its historical
The fact that it is now listed means that
the owners have to cross several hurdles
before they can demolish it.
The events in Folkestone over the weekend
make me certain that, were it not for the
ride being listed last year, the Scenic
Railway would by now have been removed.
I am now looking for people to join me in my
campaign to save the ride."
Nick Laister, 7/1/03
Nick can be contacted at
historically important is the Scenic Railway?
World's oldest operating roller coasters (As
1) Leap the Dips, Lakemont Park, USA (1902)
2) Scenic Railway, Luna Park, Australia
3) Rutschbannen, Tivoli, Denmark (1914)
4) Jack Rabbit, Clementon, USA (1919)
5) Jack Rabbit, Sea Breeze, USA (1920)
6) Scenic Railway, Margate, UK (1920)
18/1/0, an option agreement for the sale of the site
had been signed with Yorkshire-based Stadium
Scenic Railway in 2003 (Photo: Graeme Cassidy)
Scenic Railway in 2002, with Henk Bembom's looping
roller coaster behind (Photo: Graeme Cassidy)
Save Dreamland Campaign's 2005 concept plan for
Dreamland by Jean-Marc Toussaint
famous Dreamland Cinema in 1969, marking the
entrance to the Dreamland Amusement Park.
Folkestone's Rotunda Amusement Park in 2003. The
park was also owned by Jimmy Godden and closed in
the same year as Dreamland.
Campaigners Sarah Vickery, Nick Laister and Dave
Collard at the 2005 Preston Rally (Photo: Nick