by Gary Radice
: Added May 2008
Rosemary Riehl and Marjolane Ball are the daughters of the Virginia Reel's inventor Henry Elmer Riehl. Both Marjolane and Rosemary contacted me via email having read the original article The End of The Reel on themagiceye in 2006. To say I was astounded was an understatement. As a result of the fascinating correspondence that ensued themagiceye at Joyland is proud to present a world exclusive interview with the daughters of HE Riehl that helps lift the lid on the ride and the wonderful people behind it.

I wonder how many visitors to Pleasure Beach Blackpool take time out to study the names given to various areas in which they are walking? For instance, has anyone noticed Hacking Street near The Pepsi Max Big One?

Hacking Street was named after Victor Hacking who was an Assistant General Manager at Blackpool Pleasure Beach some 25 years or more ago. He worked for the company for just short of 25 years and when he died the Thompson family wished him to be remembered as a loyal employee to the company at the park and therefore the street was named after him.”
Karen Maher PA to Nick Thompson

Turn left as you enter the park from the North Entrance, keeping the Ice Blast to your right and lo and behold you are on Reel Street as this park map from 2006/2007 shows (see the park map extract to the right). Sadly, as at 2008 I don't think the area is marked but it was once the home of the fondly remembered, and much missed, Virginia Reel - a ride that has surely taken on cult status.

Rosemary Riehl: For the past 14 years (2006) since I retired, I have been living in France.  My main hobby is renovating old cottages.  Since coming to France, I have renovated two cottages myself, and to date (2008) two with my daughter and son-in-law.

My daughter and son-in-law have been in France for the last four years, and we are now living together in what was an ancient landowner’s house. There is a large barn attached, and that is our next project, which we have just started. This will be my home, when finished.

My early childhood was spent in the seaside town of Whitley Bay, Northumberland, where my father Henry Riehl had various amusement rides in the Spanish City (the local amusement park).

On leaving school I became a medical secretary, then worked for a building firm, ending up as an estate agent. During that time I married, and had two children - a boy and a girl.

Marjolane Ball: After finishing school I spent a year at Secretarial College and then found a job in an Electrical Engineering Office in Cardiff (we lived in Penarth - just outside of Cardiff).

In about 1956/57 I went to Canada and worked as a Secretary in an Aero-Engine Repair Company just outside of Montreal. This was where I met my husband Ralph when he came from Toronto to work for my boss.

In 1960 we returned to Britain to get married and then briefly went back to Canada. We then returned to Britain, bought a house, had two children and lived there until 1974, when Ralph obtained a job in New Zealand. So we sailed off into the blue to "The Land of the Long White Cloud".

We went back to the UK for holidays a few times and then in 1998/99 decided to return to the UK for good (we thought) because our two children both lived there and we wanted to be able to see them and our grandchildren.

We ended up living in France until July 2003 when we returned to New Zealand and have been here ever since. And now that Ralph is gone I must return because I have no-one here at all.

Rosemary: My father (Henry Elmer Riehl) was born in the little village of Grossropperhausen, Hessen, Germany on 1 September 1864.

Marjolane: When our father left Germany at either 15 or 16 (according to Rosemary, his relatives in Germany say 15) he went to live in Pennsylvania USA with his uncle. His boyhood desire was to be a doctor, but that was not to be.

Rosemary: He was a very remarkable man, lived life to the full, and had a wonderful life, although not always happy. I think the last few years of his life in the UK were the happiest.

themagiceye: Did you ever get to know your half sister Virginia well?

Rosemary: No Gary, we did not know Virginia because she lived in the States.

Marjolane: She came over when Johann and I were born (Johann is my twin sister). Apparently Virginia was a very good looking, vivacious, person. She married twice, her second husband being Freddie de Gervais. Virginia was 26 years older than me and she did suffer from bad health most of her life - heart problems I believe. Virginia died on 15th January 1964

By the way, it was Virginia who gave me my name - I’m not sure about where Johann‘s name came from or who gave it to her. I looked my name up on the Internet one day and there were no others with the name of Marjolane!

Looking back I just wish I had had the vision to find out more about my father and what he did, but I guess because I had really not known him the thought just never occurred to me.

Rosemary Riehl. Photograph: Rosemary Riehl

Reel Street on Pleasure Beach Blackpool's 2006/7 park map. Photograph: Gary Radice

The Riehl family. Rosemary: "My father is on the left with myself in front, next to him are an aunt and uncle of Virginia. Virginia is next to them with her husband on the far right." Photograph: Rosemary Riehl and Marjolane Ball


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