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WELSH WONDERS (PAGE 2 OF 7)
by Phil Gould
Article: Added February 2006
Our first port of call is Ffrith Beach - the children's amusement park at Prestatyn.
I visited this park the least of all. In the 60s, before my relatives settled in the town, we would only drive past en route to other resorts. I seem to recall that this park only opened during the day.
The park was divided in two by a drive way to the promenade. On one side there was a wooden Skyline Slip with children's rides. On the other side of the car park was a large amusement arcade, wooden track dodgems and a go-kart track.
One novel attraction was an art studio. Here you paid a fee then you would put a white card on a rotating turntable and splat it with different colour paints to create your own abstract masterpiece.
Things started to change at Ffrith Beach in the early 70s when the park was modernised.
A large six lane Astroglide was built parallel to the seafront and a modern brick amusement arcade was constructed adjacent to the boating lake. This lake was revamped with a model of 'Noah's ark' built in its centre. New rides were brought into the area between these two attractions to keep visitors amused.
The wooden Skyline Slip was removed and replaced with a much larger Lighthouse Slip.
There was also a set of old-fashioned Gallopers, a Ghost Train and the Magic Roundabout exhibition (which featured scenes from the popular children's TV show).
The Dodgems were moved closer to the main amusement area and there were lots of kids rides including a Santa Fe train and Alice In Wonderland track ride.
But my favourite attraction was the continental playground that was between the sand dunes on the other side of the park. You paid an admission charge then could enjoy the swings, slides, roundabouts and climbing frames for as long as you liked. It seemed like my family used to spend hours in the playground.
For some time the park seemed to thrive and additional adult rides even appeared. These included a Cakewalk and an American Scrambler Twist.
Ffrith Beach continued to be a popular tourist attraction until the mid 90s. Unfortunately, as seems to have happened with so many resorts, the local council announced 'ambitious plans' to redevelop the site as the Festival Gardens.
It set about demolishing the existing park and, with the help of European grants, started to construct the gardens.
Some new buildings were finished but then the money ran out. From what I understand the new buildings have never been used and the gardens have become overgrown and derelict.
A sad end to what was once an attraction which attracted thousands of visitors every year.
I would like to think this was a cautionary tale for other councils but sadly a similar story has been repeated around the United Kingdom's coastline.