This Page is an Archive of all news items featured on the Joyland Books News Page between 1 July and 31 December 2003.
For the latest news, click here.

Proposed 'Oakwood Holiday Village' Sparks Outrage [21/12/03]

Members of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority have resolved to grant planning permission for a large holiday village adjacent to the Oakwood Theme Park in South West Wales, sparking protests from local conservationists. The 60m Bluestone proposal, the brainchild of former Oakwood boss William McNamara, will consists of 340 log cabins with an all-weather water attraction and snow centre. Planning officers had recommended refusal of the 460-acre development. The application, which was managed by planning consultants RPS, will now be vetted by the Welsh Assembly Government. The project has won a lot of local support, but the Council for National Park is urging for a public inquiry to be held, and has threatened legal action if the Assembly does not intervene. 

Another recent theme park success for RPS was the granting of planning permission for a 200-bedroom hotel at Drayton Manor Park in the Staffordshire Green Belt. The scheme was granted planning permission despite being 'called-in' by the Secretary of State, John Prescott.

Colwyn Bay Pier Sold [14/12/03]

The Victoria Pier at Colwyn Bay, North Wales, has been bought by Steve Hunt, the editor of Antique Amusement Magazine. The Pier was opened in 1900 and has been under several ownerships over the years. Since 1995, the Pier has been owned by Mike and Ann Paxman, who restored the entrance building but were never able to secure the funding required to restore the main pavilion. In recent months, the Paxmans famously tried to sell the pier via online auction website eBay, but failed to secure the reserve price. Keen amusement memorabilia collector Steve Hunt stepped in and acquired the Pier - which could need up to $4m spending on it to be fully restored - after selling his house to help raise the funds. Steve sets out his restoration plans, which include restoring the 1930s ballroom and replacing the entrance building, on his new website: Those with an interest in British piers should click here for Secondhand books on the subject.

Who Will Buy Tussauds? [6/12/03]

Leisure Opportunities Magazine reports that the number of bidders taking part in the estimated 900m auction for the acquisition of the Tussauds Group has fallen, with two major bidders dropping out. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Permira have both now pulled out of the bidding war, leaving French venture capitalists private PAI, and UK equity group, BA Partners, as the front runners. PAI is reported to have made the highest bid. The sale of Tussauds was announced by its owners, Charterhouse Development Capital, in October and bidders have been given two months to put together proposals.

Planning Permission Refused for Dublin Theme Park [5/12/03]

Planning permission has been refused for a proposal to build what would be the world's biggest theme park in Ireland. Fingal County Council (FCC) has rejected the €7 billion proposal by United Entertainment Partners (UEP), with the quality of the planning application given as one of the main reasons. The credibility of the project, which would be built to the north of Dublin, was criticised for a number of reasons, including the visitor projections. The park is estimated to attract 35m visitors, despite the fact that the whole of Ireland currently only attracts 5.6m. At 2,500 acres, it was to be the biggest tourist attraction in the world, with three theme parks, 14 hotels, a concert venue, an ice rink, a golf course and an equestrian centre, 22km twin-track monorail to Dublin City Centre, in addition to thousands of holiday apartments and a huge retail development. UEP also claimed to have the backing of several international entertainment corporations, two of which denied the claims. The applicants have threatened moving their proposals to the United Kingdom.

Chessington Expansion Plans Hit the Buffers [29/11/03]

The Tussauds Group's 50m expansion plans for its Chessington World of Adventures theme park in Surrey have hit problems with local objectors. Tussauds is proposing a new 20million safari lodge hotel, safari area, new rides and a beach as part of an overall plan to reposition and revitalise the ailing tourist attraction. The plans had secured the support of planning officers at the local council, but the application was removed from the agenda of the development control committee at the last minute following representations made by the solicitors of objectors Chessington Nurseries Limited. The case will be heard again by the council next month.

More Rare Books Added to Secondhand Shop [29/11/03]

Several highly collectable books have been added to the ever-expanding Secondhand Shop. Discovering Alton Towers is the extremely rare Ladybird guide to the Towers published in the late 1980s and features numerous colour photographs of the different areas of the park from that period, including several rides and attractions which have long since disappeared. We also have a very rare Butlin's Pwllheli Entertainments Programme from the 1961 season. For fairground enthusiasts, no item is more sought after than the History of Savages, published by the famous fairground engineering company. White Knuckle Ride is a guide to the world's biggest rides, and Seaside Piers is a general history of British piers. Several other new books have also been added; click here and look for items marked as "NEW".

Amusement Park Owners Score in Rich List [16/11/03]

North west of England amusement park owners Trevor Hemmings and Geoffrey Thompson both feature in the recently released north west rich list. Hemmings, owner of Blackpool Tower, Blackpool's three piers and the American Adventure Theme Park (among other attractions) is rated top of the list with a 700 million fortune. The owners of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Geoffrey Thompson and family, are 91st on the list, with a 25 million fortune.

New Book Explores Side-Shows and Popular Entertainments [16/11/03]

Jay's Journal of Anomalies is a history of bizarre entertainments, from fairground side-shows to mechanical marvels. The multitalented Ricky Jay wrote and published a unique and beautifully designed quarterly called Jay's Journal of Anomalies. Already coveted collector's items, the sixteen issues are now gathered here in a complete set, with significant new material and illustrations. A brilliant excursion into the history of strange entertainments, the journal was described in The New York Times as "beautiful and elegant...a combination of rigorous scholarship and personal rumination." From trained dogs and flea circuses to crucifixion for showmanly profit. It's all in this unique book. 

Click here for details.

Attempt made to demolish Britain's oldest ride [4/11/03]

Breaking news: An attempt was made late this afternoon by the owner of the Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds to demolish the Aerial Glide ride. The ride was listed last Friday by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, following submission of a report by local campaigner Mike Short and amusement park historian Nick Laister. Mr Short and Mr Laister originally submitted the report following a tip-off several days ago that the ride was going to be demolished this week. It appears that the owner decided to continue with his demolition plans regardless of the ride's new listed status.

Police were called to the scene by local residents and representatives of the council also attended to explain the legal position regarding listed buildings. English Heritage were also alerted to the events as they unfolded, and expressed their concern. 

Nick Laister said: "Demolishing a listed building - in whole or in part - is a criminal offence and, if prosecuted, comes with a large fine or a prison sentence. It is not known at this stage what action will be taken, but English Heritage has advised us that they will be contacting Bradford Metropolitan District Council to ensure that proper action is taken against the landowner if appropriate. It is hoped that Bradford Council serves notice on the owner to restore the structure to its original condition."

Before the police arrived at the scene, a significant section of the ride's running rail was removed, and one of the support towers was partly dismantled.

As more news is received it will be reported both here and on the dedicated Aerial Glide/Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds website.

Oldest British amusement park ride becomes latest listed building [2/11/03]

Britain’s oldest surviving amusement park ride, the ‘Aerial Glide’ at Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds, Baildon, West Yorkshire, has become a Grade II listed building after an emergency application by local campaigner, Mike Short, and amusement park historian, Nick Laister. This is only the second time an amusement park ride has been listed. 

Local campaigners had been fighting to save the pleasure grounds for over a year after the owner had submitted an outline planning application to redevelop the site for housing. 

Above: The Aerial Glide is Britain's oldest surviving amusement park ride. Photograph:

The strength of local opposition had meant that the planning application had been deferred but, following strong local rumour last week, campaigners feared that the ‘Aerial Glide’, built in 1900, might be about to be demolished. Mike Short, who lives opposite the Pleasure Grounds, sought the help of Nick Laister, an Oxfordshire based chartered town planner and amusement park historian, who had been responsible in 2002 for securing the listing of the wooden Scenic Railway roller coaster at Dreamland, Margate. The report was submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Thursday, and the ride was listed by the following day. To find out more about this historic ride and to download the report submitted to the DCMS, click here.

New Carousel Art Prints Added [1/11/03]

Two new limited edition reproductions of original watercolour and acrylic paintings of carousel horses have been added to Joyland Books. Both paintings are of the antique carousel at Knoebels Amusement Park, Pennsylvania (USA), and they join the large range of limited edition art prints already available from Joyland Books. 'Knoebel Midnight' and 'Knoebel Tan' are both by award-winning artist Deborah Budney and signed/numbered prints are available. Until 1st January 2004, Joyland Books is offering a 20% discount on all paintings by Deborah Budney. Please email us for a price, specifying which painting you would like to buy. Click here to go to the Joyland Books Art Shop.

Men at Work Book Launched at Fairground Who's Who [24/10/03]

The biggest fairground book release of 2003, Men at Work: The fairground artists and artisans of Orton & Spooner by Alan S. Howell, was launched on 4 October to a large crowd gathered at Burton-on-Trent's famous Bass Museum. The event, which attracted many of the most respected member's of the UK's fairground community (some pictured right, around the late author's widow), featured a exhibition of original fairground artwork and carvings and an excellent talk by the Secretary of the Fairground Society, Stephen Smith. Click here for a full report of the event with photographs. 
A Who's Who of the British fairground world? Click here for a full list of names and more photographs of the launch of Men at Work.

Gulliver's World Roller Coaster For Sale [21/10/03]

The Wild Mine Ride, a wild mouse roller coaster at Gulliver's World Theme Park (Warrington, UK) is being advertised for sale in trade newspaper the World's Fair. This ride, unique to the United Kingdom, was installed new at the park in 2000 and was built by Italian roller coaster manufacturer L&T Systems. The 3-park Gulliver's chain also has two rides from its Milton Keynes park up for sale: the Crazy House ride, installed 2000, and the Super Nessi Junior Coaster, which opened with the park in 1999.
Above: The Wild Mine Ride

UK Dark Ride to Close [21/10/03]

One of the UK's best dark rides is to close, it has been announced. The Crazy Clown ride at the Magical World of Fantasy Island is to close at the end of October 2003 when it will be removed. The ride system was manufactured by Doncaster-based WGH Engineering in 1999 and is in the form of rotating  barrels which travel along a 70m track. The track winds its way through a circus-themed wonderland with music and moving displays. The ride is one of three major dark rides at the Fantasy Island complex.

Online Exhibition Open: The Rides of Orton & Spooner [26/9/03]

To celebrate the launch of the new book Men at Work, by Alan S. Howell, Joyland Books has opened a new online exhibition: The Rides of Orton & Spooner. The famous Burton-on-Trent ride builders manufactured a huge range of fairground and amusement park rides, from Arks and Scenic Railways to Ghost Trains and even Roller Coasters. Click here to go to the Exhibition.

Major New Orton & Spooner Book Out Now [20/9/03]

What is undoubtedly the biggest fairground release of 2003 - Men at Work: The fairground artists and artisans of Orton & Spooner - is out now! The brand new book, by the late Alan Howell, tells the story of Burton-on-Trent based fairground ride builders Orton & Spooner and the father and son team of Albert & Sid Howell (the author's grandfather and father respectively), whose artwork adorned many of their most famous rides. The book is officially launched on 4th October 2003 at a special event at the Bass Museum in Burton-on-Trent, but copies are being exclusively dispatched from today by Joyland Books a full two weeks before release! Click here to order your own copy.

Visit the Launch: The Burton-on-Trent launch event at the Bass Museum, which starts at 1.30pm, will feature a display of original artwork by Albert and Sid Howell as featured in the book, rare fairground photographs and a talk by Stephen Smith, Secretary of the Fairground Society. 

Above: Men at Work. Alan Howell spent the final few years of his life turning his father and grandfather's time at fairground ride-builders Orton & Spooner into a fascinating story of fairground nostalgia, a tale leading from Burton-on-Trent to Blackpool and Manchester's Belle Vue!

New Fairground Book: Fairground Attraction [14/9/03]

A fascinating new hardback book looking into the world of the travelling showman has been released. Fairground Attraction, by John Comino-James, is a remarkable collection of photographs revealing the secret lives of travelling showpeople, not only at work, but also in the private spaces of their living trailers and winter-quarters and during their family celebrations of christening and marriage. This book shows that the Showmen’s community is deeply rooted in historical tradition and strong family values, a way of life often wrongly confused with other travellers. Click here for more information about this book and details on how to buy your copy.

Blackgang Chine Roller Coaster Delayed [31/8/03]

Blackgang Chine's Tornado roller coaster, due to open in June 2003, will not now open until October. The opening of the attraction, which will be the first roller coaster to open at the park - and the largest on the Isle of Wight - had already been delayed until July due to delays in the manufacture of the ride. The further delays are due to modifications now being made to the ride by its Italian manufacturers. The rest of Blackgang Chine remains open as usual.

Rare Books Added to Secondhand Shop [30/8/03]

Several rare books have been added to the Secondhand Shop today. Heading the list is the extremely rare Souvenir Programme to the 1959 Dancing Festival at Butlin's Holiday Camp, Filey (pictured to the right). For those interested in all things seaside, we have added Seaside Piers by Simon Adamson and the story of saucy seaside postcard king, Donald McGill. We have also added a rare Souvenir Programme to the Festival Pleasure Gardens at Battersea, which included the famous Battersea Fun Fair. Plus we have added a huge range of secondhand fairground books. Click here for the Secondhand Shop.

Dreamland Remembered: Out Now! [28/8/03]

A brand new book tracing the history of the famous Dreamland Amusement Park at Margate has been released. Dreamland Remembered is packed with photographs of the park through the years, from the 'Lord' George Sanger days right through to more recent times under the ownership of Bembom Brothers and its current owner, Jimmy Godden. The park - home to the 83-year-old listed Scenic Railway roller coaster - is now threatened with closure and is the subject of a campaign to save it. Many of the photographs in the book have never been seen in print before. Relive the park's history through the pages of this fascinating publication. 

Click here for more information.

Southport Pleasureland to Expand [13/8/03]

Southport's Pleasureland Amusement Park has submitted a planning application to Sefton Council to build rides on the site of Southport Zoo. The amusement park, which is part of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Group, has recently concluded negotiations with Sefton Council for the acquisition of the zoo and adjoining recreation land and a planning application for the change of use of the zoo to an amusement park was submitted last week. Pleasureland, the fifth most visited amusement park in the UK, has not yet announced what rides are to be built on the site.
Pleasureland: set for major expansion.

Venom Returns to Camelot [10/8/03]

The Venom powered coaster is returning to Camelot Theme Park. The ride, which was previously housed inside a mountain-themed structure, was removed in 2001 to allow for the expansion of the adjacent Castle Entertainment Centre. This development received planning permission in 2002 and would have created a covered theme park area. With the announcement that the park might close in the next 5 years (see below), the Venom ride is now being built-up in the open and could be taking riders again soon.
Photograph courtesy: Stuart Rowlands

The Complete History of Riverview Park Added [2/8/03]

Following on from the success of Laugh Your Troubles Away, Joyland Books has now added another book on the history of Chicago's famous Riverview Amusement Park. Riverview: Gone But Not Forgotten is the complete photo-history of the park, which is described by the author as "a maze of wonders, noises and delicious popcorn and cotton candy smells". The park was also home to The Bobs roller coaster, regarded by many as the greatest roller coaster ever built. Find out about all the legendary rides of Riverview in this classic publication, now available from Joyland Books. 

Click here for details and to order a copy.

Long-Awaited New Fairground Book Now Available to Pre-Order [22/7/03]

A book that has been talked about for years is available to pre-order now with the publication on 4 October 2003 of Alan Howell’s story of his father and grandfather, who both just happen to be two of the greatest fairground artists of all time. Unfortunately Alan died before he could realise his dream of having this story in print, but Skelter Publishing is now bringing Men at Work: The fairground artists and artisans of Orton & Spooner into the public domain at long last. Orton & Spooner became renowned for producing living wagons for fairground showmen and eventually all kinds of fairground devices. One of only a handful of such manufacturers in Britain their workshops became a fantasy world of inspired engineering and breathtaking artwork.  

The company employed many artists, two of whom, Albert and Sid Howell, became regarded as the 20th century’s finest exponents of this very specialised art form. The book follows Albert’s progress from his art school and apprenticeship in Bristol to his glory days at Orton & Spooner painting his vivid jungle scenes on the rounding boards of the great Scenic Railways of the 1900s. Sid too was a product of art school and his life is charted through the height of his career as chief artist at Orton & Spooner to his successful career as a commercial artist and industrial illustrator. And that’s not all. Both men were accomplished artists in their private lives and produced many great works, many of which are in print for the first time. Click here for more details about this landmark publication.

New Dreamland History Book Announced [18/7/03]

The history of Dreamland Amusement Park, Margate (UK) is to be told for the very first time in a brand new book, out in September, called Dreamland Remembered. Written by local author and journalist Nick Evans, the book takes readers on a journey through the highs and lows of the park's history, and features more than 200 photographs. As the Save Dreamland Campaign fights to rescue this important amusement park and its most famous ride from demolition, readers can now find out about the park's amazing heritage, from the Scenic Railway of the 1920s to the Looping Star and Big Wheel of the 1980s. 

Out on 1 September, the book can be pre-ordered from Joyland Books, and orders will be dispatched a few days before the book's official release. Click here for more details.

Above: Dreamland Remembered

Carousel Art Available from Joyland Books [14/7/03]

Limited edition reproductions of watercolour, acrylic and airbrush paintings of gallopers and carousels by award-winning American artist Deborah Budney are now available from Joyland Books. Deborah's unique paintings are designed for the art collector and for all who enjoyed the experiences of watching and riding carousels of all types. Many of the paintings come signed and numbered. Click here to see her full range of carousel art.

Massive New Ride Announced for Fantasy Island [3/7/03]

The Magical World of Fantasy Island at Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, has announced a massive new ride for the 2004 season: its own version of the London Eye. Fantasy Island claims that its Eye on the Coast Wheel will cost 10m and reach a height of 250 feet, and will be one of a number of new attractions to celebrate the attraction's tenth anniversary. The wheel will have 40 rotating cars, each carrying six passengers, and the ride will come complete with running commentary showing riders the sights of Ingoldmells and Skegness from the air. If the wheel turns out to be as big as claimed, it will still be some 200 feet shorter than the London Eye, but will be about 100 feet higher than the famous Big Wheel which dominated the Margate skyline throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

Paultons Park Wins Award [3/7/03]

Paultons Park has won the "Out and About in Britain" award for best value for money theme park in Britain. The Hampshire theme park - 20 this year - beat parks such as Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the award which was commissioned by Mother & Baby magazine and Pampers nappies. Legoland won the award for most family friendly theme park.

New Fairground Exhibition Announced for Sheffield [1/7/03]

1 October 2003 is the opening day of a new exhibition about the magical world of the fairground at the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield. 'Pleasurelands' will display outstanding images and items of fairground memorabilia, spanning two hundred years, drawn from the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield and private collections of national importance. Pleasurelands runs to 18 January 2004, and then starts a national tour to the Croydon Clocktower and the City Arts Centre, Edinburgh. Click here for more details.

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