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GOLDEN OLDIES: BRITAIN'S AMUSEMENT PARK HERITAGE (PAGE 2)
by Nick Laister
Gallery: From Joyland Books Exhibition Hall, 1 May 2001 to 30 June 2001


Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: Nick Laister

Ghost Train, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The Ghost Train was introduced to the Pleasure Beach in 1930 (originally called the Pretzel Ride). It was rebuilt on its present site in 1936 by Joseph Emberton.

 

 

 

 




It was modified again in 1957 and 1973, with minor modifications in 2001.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Ghost Train has an impressive frontage, adjacent to the Wild Mouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the station is a small roller coaster-style drop!

 

 

 

 



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: David Page

 


Image: David Page

Scenic Railway, Dreamland

Dreamland opened in 1920 on the site of a former zoo and gardens, and has been owned (or part owned) by showman C.C. Bartram, John Henry Iles, Billy Butlin and the Bembom Brothers. The Scenic Railway is its signature ride. This picture shows the park and the Scenic Railway, in 1993, when it was owned by Bembom Brothers.

 

 

 

 


In 1995 the park was purchased by Jimmy Godden (Jimmy Godden also owns Rotunda Amusement Park at Folkestone). With the help of an EU grant of over 800,000, Godden refurbished the entire park, including the Scenic Railway, and removed many rides including the Big Wheel, Looping Star roller coaster and traditional Water Chute. This photograph shows the Scenic Railway just prior to refurbishment.
 

 

 

 

 

Opening on 3rd July 1920, the Scenic Railway is the oldest operating roller coaster in the UK. It is one of only two scenic railway-type roller coasters still operating in the UK (the other being at the Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth).
 

 

 

 

 

 

As it is a scenic railway the trains run in troughs, and do not have under-track wheels, which limits the speed and steepness of drops.

 

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The ride also has a brakeman, who sits on an elevated seat between cars 1 and 2.

 

 

 

 


Detailing on one of the trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The train is pulled up the lift hills by a cable instead of a chain. The brakeman then keeps a check on the speed throughout the rest of the ride (remember, there are no underwheels!).

 

 



Image: Graeme Cassidy


Image: Graeme Cassidy


Image: Graeme Cassidy


Image: Graeme Cassidy


Image: Nick Laister

Roller Coaster, Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

The Pleasure Beach dates back to 1909, when it was started by C.B. Cochran. Famous rides include Katzenjammer Castle (1909), the River Caves (1910), the Joy Wheel (1911), the Water Chute (1925). In 1954, the park was taken over by the Botton Brothers, Albert and Jim. When Albert Botton died in 1975, Jimmy Jones (his son-in-law) took over.

 

 

 

 


The Scenic Railway opened in 1932, on the site of an older roller coaster. It wasn't new to the Pleasure Beach, however. It had been the star attraction at the Colonial Exhibition, Paris in 1929. Purchased for the Pleasure Beach by Pat Collins, it was dismantled, shipped over and re-erected at the park.

 

 

 

 

 

The ride was designed and built by Erich Heidrich of Hamburg, who was also responsible for the re-erection of the ride at the Pleasure Beach. He stayed to manage the ride until the outbreak of World War Two. The ride has a brakeman, who checks the speed of the ride as it has no undertrack wheels.

 

 

 

 


 

The stats: it is approximately 1 mile long and 70 feet high, and gives a 3 minute ride. Its five trains are capable of reaching a maximum speed of 45 mph. It can handle 2,500 passengers per hour.

 

 

 

 


The second drop is the biggest (left). A train full of passengers approaches the station (right).

 

 



Image: Graeme Cassidy


Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: David Page

Cyclone, Pleasureland, Southport

The history of Pleasureland can be traced back to the 1880s. By the 1890s, WG Bean of Blackpool Pleasure Beach fame had arrived, and the council-owned park grew in size.  The park was originally located in King’s Gardens, but moved in 1924 to its present location (the site of an early 1900s landfill).

 

 

 

 



Southport's Pleasureland has benefited from massive investment from its owner, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, since the company gained full control of the park in the late 1990s. Major new rides have been installed, such as the state-of-the-art Traumatizer roller coaster. This photograph shows the Cyclone's station out of season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

This wooden roller coaster is constructed in a figure eight design. Designed by Charles Paige for the Pennsylvania Roller Company, it opened on 26 March 1937. The Station and part of the Cyclone ride itself were lost in a fire in December 1984. The Station was rebuilt using architect Joseph Emberton’s original drawings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ride is regarded by many as one of the finest roller coasters in the UK...

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 


...And still provides thrill seekers with a white-knuckle ride.



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Shelli Ward

River Caves, Pleasureland

Originally erected in 1908, the ride was moved to the park’s new site in 1922 and reopened the following year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The River Caves is a boat journey through many scenes representing different parts of the world, with music and animatronics. The ride still operates to this day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

 

 

The River Caves pictured in the 1980s.

 

 

 

 



Image: Nick Laister


Image: David Page


Image: David Page

Caterpillar, Pleasureland

Originally built in 1914, the Caterpillar is Pleasureland’s oldest ride. It is 60 feet in diameter, with 24 seats, and can hold a maximum of 85 riders at any one time. It was completely refurbished in 1996.

 

 

 

 



 


This photograph shows the ride in April 2001, in pieces.

 

 

 

 


 

 


When the ride will next operate is not known.



Image: David Page


Image: David Page


Image: David Page

Haunted Inn, Pleasureland, Southport

A walk through attraction with scenes and lighting effects. The photograph to the left shows the ride in the closed season.

 

 

 

 



 

 


The ride was built in 1935, and has been refurbished twice, first in 1980, then again in 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It still proves a popular attraction almost 70 years after its construction.



Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: Nick Laister


Image: European Coaster Club

The Runaway Coaster, Rotunda, Folkestone

There has been an amusement park on the sea front at Folkestone since the early 1920s. The Rotunda building itself was built in 1938. The park recently changed hands, and is now owned by Jimmy Godden, the owner of Margate's Dreamland.

 

 

 

 

 

This wooden coaster is the oldest travelling roller coaster in the world. Built in 1922, it is a side-friction figure eight coaster, of the type that was popular (and relatively common) in the UK before the Second World War.

 

 

 


 



It was discovered in a field in Holland, and shipped over to the UK, where it opened at Rotunda in 1998 after months of restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three of the original ten cars have also been carefully restored. An example of the finished product is shown in this photograph. This is a truly fabulous vintage ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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