by Phil Gould
: Added November 2010
Dunes Amusement Park, Main Promenade, Mablethorpe

A few miles further up the coast is the resort of Mablethorpe. This is a much smaller place than Skegness but in the 70s it still managed to sustain a seafront amusement park, which is still there and an indoor funfair, which is now an amusement arcade. The town's promenade is at a higher level than the town's High Street so you could always see the two aerial rides at the park from quite a distance away.   

The Big Wheel and the Lighthouse Slip were built up next to each other at the town end of the park. The Wheel was a standard 12 car ride. The Slip was painted with Alpine scenes and after spending the season at Mablethorpe would always come out of the park to attend fairs on the back end run. It was a regular feature at Nottingham Goose Fair for many years.

The Gallopers were also at the front of the park and dated back to the 1883. This ride was built by well known firm Savage's of King Lynn as a dobby set. It was converted to a Gallopers in the early 20th century. It spent time at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach and Spanish City, Whitley Bay before coming to Mablethorpe.

HP Jacksons of Congleton built the park's Waltzer for T Jervis in 1962 and although it toured the Notts area to begin with it wasn't long before the family settled down in the Lincolnshire resort. It originally had a top tilt. The ride has had a succession of owners and still operates at the park today. There was also a standard set of Dodgems at the park. Although the last two large rides were a common sight at fairgrounds and parks of the time they were unusual because of the way they had been manufactured and operated. The Twist had also been built by H P Jackson, one of only two such rides produced by the firm. It arrived at the park in 1963 and originally had a roof and used rollers running on the floor to create the twisting motion rather than the conventional method employed by other Twists. 

The Jets at the park were even more rare. In fact, they were a one off and had been designed and built by showman Henry Thurston. The rockets looked very chunky compared to those on other manufacturer's jets and the operator had a control which meant that all the rockets lifted at the same time rather than being controlled individually by the riders. Needless to say this idea was not a success. It is perhaps worth mentioning that Dunes also had a couple of nice juvenile rides - an open topped Muffin The Mule and a traditional toyset.        

Funderland, High Street, Mablethorpe

I recall very little about this small indoor park. At the front was an arcade with all the latest slot machines but in the back part of the building was a set of Gallopers, which I think ended up at the ill-fated Fleggburgh Village near Great Yarmouth, and a set of Dodgems.

I only literally popped in to look at these machines when we were about to leave as we didn't realise that there was another fair in town!


General 1970s view of Dunes Amusement Park at Mablethorpe, showing the landmark Lighthouse Slip. Picture: National Fairground Archive

The Jackson Twist ride at Mablethorpe in the 1970s. Note the rollers on the floor that were used to give the ride its twisting motion. Picture: National Fairground Archive

Left and above: Funderland indoor amusement park at Mablethorpe, taken in 1999 when its name had changed to Funland. It is now an indoor car boot sale. Pictures: Nick Laister

Your Comments
Firstly, great piece, thanks! Really enjoyed it. I can add some trivia and background for the authors/others info:

1) The Skeg wheel stopped rotating in 1970 after being massively re built in square box section- it proved too heavy to turn. The cars were changed from metal to fibreglass in 1969. It came from Battersea in 1965; the local paper has an article in it with Jimmy Botton putting it up.
2) There was a second set of Jets at Butlin's (hidden behind the Dodgems) with a lifting cheese in centre but vertically, not tipping. In Butlin Blue, they were Old style "Rocket shaped cars" and as with all things Butlin not all of them ever worked! This set used to be in the location where Bottons is now as this park was a Butlin park originally (positioned where the Big Apple currently is 2010).
3) The cable way at North parade amusement park collapsed (East tower fell over) when bolts sheared at the seaward end. No one was seriously injured but it led to its demise.
4) The Eli wheel at North parade park was pretty loosely run. In 1969 I remember being left on it while the operator went over the road to the cafe ("Call if you want to come off!"). Fab.
5) The Butlin's 16 car Eli wheel collapsed in high winds in the Winter and was scrapped in the 1990s.
6) Butlin's had a "Wild Mouse" like Bottons but in Butlin blue at the park.
7) Botton's Wild Mouse always had the letters partly reversed on their main sign between the two "coconut towers", to attract attention.
8) The large horse ride (like Blackpool's) at Butlin's did exist. I have a picture of my mum riding it! It had a large flower bed in the middle!
9) The Dodgems at Skegness were originally 'water dodgems'.
10) The first UK 'Rock O Plane' was at Butlin's park just before Bottons took it over in 1965.

Brill article many thanks for writing,

Richard Ryan

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