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A TALE OF SHIPLEY GLEN: THE MIKE SHORT INTERVIEW (PART 3)
Interview by Gary Radice
Article
: Added November 2003
 
So is it true that the landowner has recently tried to demolish The Aerial Glide?
 
On 3 November 2003, I spent most of the day giving interviews to the newspapers and radio stations.
 
On 4 November 2003 the local paper carried a big splash (though in early editions they headed the article with a large photograph of the ĎAerial Flightí that had been demolished in 1920!) 
 
At about 15.30hrs that day, I was working on the campaign when I heard the unmistakeable sound of a cutting disc slicing through steel. I hurried across the road and saw to my horror that the owner was up a ladder cutting into a tower.  
 
I quickly realised that two thirds of the suspensory rail had gone and the car recovery motor, pulley and belts had too.  (The cars had already been taken down and the signage had been removed but that was normal for winter maintenance.)
I canít say too much about what happened in case there is legal action but I will say that after unsuccessfully pleading with him to stop, I had no option other than to call the police and local authority officers.
 
What now?
I wish I knew.  
 
I have been trying to find out for over two weeks what the local authorityís intentions are and if they will serve a listed buildings enforcement notice both to prevent further acts of vandalism by the landowner and to force restoration by him.  
 
I have to say, somewhat bitterly, that the two Local Authority officers I have had to deal with have been as useful as chocolate teapots!  
 
I donít want to say more about that because I am hoping that more senior officers may yet take the issue seriously.  If I canít get an answer then itís gloves off and I shall be going back to the press.
 
Mike, what has been the reaction from the local press regarding your campaign?

The local press have been brilliant throughout.  They know of the importance of the Pleasure Grounds and the whole area to the people of Bradford and they have truly reflected public feeling.
There was one unexpected spin-off.  
 
The Tramway is on land leased from the local authority. At the time our campaign started, the Tramway operator was Mick Leak who had spent most of his life savings keeping the Tramway going.  In the year of the foot and mouth crisis, the Glen had been closed and the Tramway and Pleasure grounds had been badly hit.  
 
Mick had been warning for a long time that he couldnít keep going much longer and he had now decided that 2002 had to be his last year.  
 
That story was picked up by the Telegraph and Argus as they ran ours.
 
The two stories were a huge embarrassment to the Local Authority since they had entered Bradford as a contender for European city of Culture and the Shipley Glen area had featured in their application.  

The press attention to our campaign and the plight of the Tramway has resulted in a large increase in numbers of visitors but I have no idea how many there are a year.  
 
It did highlight, though, that sustained marketing and publicity would boost numbers permanently.

How confident are you that the ride and park will be saved?
 
I canít be confident but listed building status does mean that a whole new set of protections are in place and the landowner would have to apply for listed building consent if he wanted to demolish the ride or build houses on the site and he would have to go through many more hoops than he would if the ride had not been listed.
 
That wouldnít stop him just closing the pleasure grounds out of pure bloody-mindedness though.  
 
He has claimed that ride is in such a bad condition and that it would cost GBP50,000 to restore it.  
 
That, like other things he has said, is very difficult to believe.
 
Have you or anyone else linked to the campaign had any contacts with the owner recently?

Mr Teale is my neighbour and I used to have good relationships with him and I see him or pass him every week. 
 
In the early days of the campaign, he did launch a verbal tirade on a campaigner but, thankfully, that hasnít been repeated. I am afraid he wouldnít want to talk to us.  
 
For my part, I would like to explain to him that listing means that he is eligible for grants to help restore the ride and we will support any application.  
 
We would also like to work with him and the Tramway Trust to try and get a more meaningful commitment from the Local Authority to regenerate and publicise the area.  
 
We would do what we could to help him find a buyer for the site (as a going amusement park) and his house if he wants to sell up.

Is there a danger that owners of vintage rides elsewhere may be spurred on by this to get rid of their own rides before similar campaigns stop them from selling up?
 
I really donít know; this isnít an area I know much about.  
 
I will say, though, that my limited experience of showmen is that I have found them to be hugely conscious, knowledgeable and respectful of amusement park heritage.


Mike Short. Image: Mike Short

 

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