This Page is an Archive of all news items featured on the Joyland Books News Page between 1 January and 30 June 2012.
For the latest news, click here.

A history of the British fairground and its people
28 June 2012

Since its first publication in 1986, Frances Brown’s Fairfield Folk has been acknowledged as a fairground classic. Secondhand copies now fetch high prices. Halsgrove has just published an updated edition with new information and many more photographs, bringing the story of the Matthews family up-to-date.

This book not only traces the way of life of a travelling family, but charts the changes and developments of the British fairground. It should have wide appeal as it provides many personal insights into the travelling community, and records the development of their early rides such as the famous steam driven roundabout filmed in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and Half-a-Sixpence. More...

Amusement parks from the past on DVD
16 June 2012

Joyland Books presents a European exclusive, with two DVDs both featuring compilations of historic films showing some of America's favourite amusement parks as they were in the past.

Parks From The Past Volume 1 and Volume 2 contain scenes from many famous Amusement Parks, including Denver's Elitch Gardens, Hershey Park, Dorney Park, Playland Park, Palsades Park, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Belmont Park and New York's Coney Island. Features point of view film of rides such as: Elitch's Wildcat and Mr Twister; the Silver Beach Comet; the Hershey Park Comet; Santa Cruz Giant Dipper; Coney Island's Cyclone, Thunderbolt and Tornado; and Euclid Beach's Thriller, Flying Turns, Racing Coaster, Over the Falls and Tumble Bug; and much more. More...

A journey with the Wall of Death
6 June 2012

Joyland Books stocks a wide range of titles about the legendary fairground show the Wall of Death, including the book Riding the Wall of Death and the DVDs Tornado Smith: The Wall of Death Pioneer and the Ken Fox Wall of Death.

New from The History Press is a new book which follows the Ken Fox Wall of Death show on its tour of the UK. Ken Fox's Hellriders by Gary Margerum captures this extraordinary life through magnificent photographs and also documents the lives of the famous Ken Fox Troupe. More...

Inland parks: before they were famous
27 May 2012

Amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye launches a major new article this month. Inland Parks: Before They Were Famous, written by deputy editor of OK! Magazine Phil Gould, takes you back in time to the inland amusement parks of the North West and Midlands. Read about Alton Towers and Drayton Manor before they became nationally famous, when they featured small amusement parks. Find out about the small amusement park at Trentham Gardens and its Alton Towers connection. And remember long lost inland parks Pickmere Lake and Belle Vue, forever consigned to the 'where are they now'? label. A truly fascinating read, which covers a previously overlooked area of amusement park history. Read on...

Discount theme park tickets page re-launched
23 May 2012

We have re-launched our Discount Theme Park Tickets page.

Joyland Books constantly searches for the best deals on theme park tickets, whether they be discount vouchers or cheap online tickets. We put the best offers and deals we can find on this page and we keep it updated.

Some of the best offers we have tracked down include almost 38% off tickets to Camelot Theme Park, up to 40% off two-day tickets to Thorpe Park and over 20% off two-ay tickets to Alton Towers. Click here for more deals.

The Story of Alton Towers
7 May 2012

Hot on the heals of the re-release of Alton Towers Past & Present by Michael Fisher (see news item dated 15 April 2012 below), we now feature the re-release of a hugely popular Alton Towers DVD: The Story of Alton Towers.

The DVD has been re-released with a new cover and is available again. This was the first DVD to tell the story of the theme park, and was produced in association with Alton Towers. It includes archive film of the Brian Collins fairground of the 1950s, BBC archive footage of the construction of the Corkscrew, as well as extensive cine shots of the amusement park as it developed through the years. It also takes a ride on some of the park's most famous rides, and includes fascinating insights from those such as roller coaster guru John Wardley. More...

Alton Towers Past & Present
15 April 2012

Alton Towers Past & Present by Michael Fisher has been out of stock for some time but we have tracked down a large supply of new copies and have made them available again. We cannot guarantee how long this title book will remain available as the original publishers have ceased trading.

Reputed to have been the largest privately-owned house in Europe, Alton Towers is now known to millions as the picturesque backdrop to one of Europe's most popular theme parks. Researched from original sources and complemented with nineteenth-century drawings and photographs, this book traces the amazing history and development of this great Gothic-revival mansion and its fabulous gardens, right up to the present day. More...

Story of well-known West Country show family published
15 April 2012

Author Kay Townsend says of her new book: "I am often told stories from the past and one of these I would like to share with you. The Herberts of Dorchester are a well-known West Country show family".

"They started with horses, progressed to steam haulage and brought up sixteen children along the way! Jack Herbert, a well-respected showman, transported his rides and snake show, experiencing many extraordinary incidents which came with owning traction engines."

Townsend describes her new book, The Herberts of Dorchester and their Steam, as "a delve into the past". More...

By the dome it's known
1 April 2012

The Kursaal at Southend-on-Sea was the largest amusement park in the south throughout much of the twentieth century. Amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye has dug deep into the archives again and has found a gem of an article. Local Southend historian Ken Crowe tells us a little about this great place in an article called By the Dome it's Known.

Once you have read the article, visit themagiceye's Kursaal photo gallery, and then top it off with a read of Ken Crowe's great 2003 book, Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park.

Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill change owners
31 March 2012

Simon Dabell, Managing Director of Blackgang Chine fantasy theme park and Robin Hill Adventure Park on the Isle of Wight is stepping down as the ownership of the parks move to a different part of the family. Simon Dabell's cousin, Alec Dabell, will take over as MD. Alec is the son of retiring chairman Dick Dabell (87), and returned to the business last year. There has been no announcement yet on whether the change in ownership and control will mean changes at the popular theme parks. Blackgang Chine was established as an attraction by the Dabell family in 1843 and is often described as the world's first theme park.

Two well-known amusement park figures die
28 March 2012

Two of the UK's most well-known amusement park figures died last night. Jimmy Jones MBE, owner and former managing director of Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, died on Tuesday night. He was in charge of the Pleasure Beach from 1975 to 1992, after which he handed over to his son Albert, but took a close interest in the park right to the end.

The former owner of Dreamland Margate, Jimmy Godden, also died last night following a long battle with cancer. In addition to Dreamland, he also previously owned Dymchurch's MW's, Folkestone's Rotunda Amusement Park and Ramsgate's Pleasurama Amusement Park. Only MW's continues to operate, under new ownership.

Above: Amusement park legend Jimmy Jones MBE

A journey through liquid space
11 March 2012

In 1959 Walt Disney expanded his Disneyland Park with three new attractions: the Alweg Monorail, the Matterhorn Bobsled and the Submarine Voyage.

The Submarine Voyage was a journey through the underwater depths of the Disneyland Lagoon, which gave guests a rare look into the world of the dark abyss. It ventured alongside many wondrous sea life, discovered lost treasure, witnessed the lost city of Atlantis and even came face to face with a sea serpent.

The underwater attraction closed in 1998, and a new DVD The Submarine Voyage explores the history of one of the world's most loved and missed attractions. More...

Wanted, A Few Useful People for the Ghost Business
14 February 2012

Randall Williams was born in Liverpool in 1846. His career as a showman began with a small magic act, but he was soon doing well enough that in 1873 (when he was just 27) he was able to start his own ghost illusion show. That was a type of stage show that combined theatrical representations with the optical effect known as 'Pepper's Ghost.'

Randall toured with his 'Great Ghost Show' for more than 25 years. It was part ghost illusion theatre, part variety show, and was just the type of light entertainment that appealed to working class audiences. Randall was also one of the first travelling showmen to exhibit films in his show.

The highlight of his career, however, was when he was invited by the famous showman-entrepreneur, Imre Kiralfy, to exhibit his show at the Victorian Era Exhibition at Earl's Court in London in the summer of 1897. Randall's "original Pepper's Ghost" thrilled audiences the entire summer and led to him becoming known as 'The King of Showmen.'

Click here for more details of a brand new book on the story of this Victorian showman.

The life and legend of Wall of Death pioneer
5 February 2012

In 2008, 80 years of the Wall of Death was celebrated in Boxford, Suffolk, the home town of George William Smith. Tornado Smith, as he was famously known, was the son of the landlord of the White Hart public house in the village. He is now a big part of local legend and has been acknowledged by the British motorcycle industry as the first Englishman to perform the spectacular and highly dangerous form of entertainment, the Wall of Death, in this country - at the Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend. The DVD Tornado Smith: The Wall of Death Pioneer films the celebration weekend and looks at the life and legend of Tornado Smith. It includes interviews with Neil Calladine, Alan Ford and members of the Smith family. With film and photo archive from the 1930s the DVD looks back in time to see why Tornado Smith is remembered with such affection as the British Wall of Death Pioneer.  More...

To tie in with this DVD, amusement park nostalgia website themagiceye features a visit to the Ken Fox Wall of Death at Carter's Steam Fair in 2004 in an article called Horizontal Heaven!

Butlin's: 75 Years of Seaside Fun!
7 January 2012

After successfully developing a series of funfairs, Billy Butlin progressed to opening holiday centres and hotels across the UK to provide families with an inexpensive but entertaining holiday. Over the years these centres first expanded and then declined in number due to changes in our preferences for types of holiday.

The new book Butlin's: 75 Years of Seaside Fun! by Sylvia Endacott and Shirley Lewis illustrates the history of the various camps and hotels, including all of the things we associate with this most British of establishments. From Redcoats to amusement parks, and from the Glamorous Grandmothers competitions to National Talent contests, this book provides an enjoyable and nostalgic trip down memory lane for all who know and love Butlin’s.  More...

Voices from the Fairground
7 January 2012

A completely new version of the 2005 book Voices from the Fairground by the Laisterdyke Local History Group has just been published. The book is based on extensive interviews with showpeople and offers some fascinating insights into fairground lives and livelihoods. Several 'voices' are heard, including that of Jimmy Williams, who travelled the Yorkshire fairgrounds as a boy, and later set up a successful one-man business making "targets for shooters" and miniature fairground organs. We also hear from John Hale, who ran fairs in the Bradford area, and from his sister who provides a woman's eye view of fairground life. Dennis Dibb writes about "the lure of the fairground", to which he succumbed as a young boy; and Arthur Spence describes how his parents sold brandy snap while he and his brothers lived with friends so that they could get a better education. There are many more photographs to accompany the text and and "lure of the fairground" is eloquently expressed throughout the book. More...

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