News: May 2003

Saturday, 31 May 2003

Rehearsals for the Save Dreamland Convention take place at the Theatre Royal, Margate.

Campaign Leader Nick Laister is interviewed by Invicta FM, and talks about tomorrow's big event.

Wednesday, 28 May 2003

The Save Dreamland Convention is previewed in Airtime, the magazine of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britian.

Sunday, 25 May 2003

Today's Observer newspaper featured an extensive two-page article by Iain Aitch on the impending closure of Dreamland, based around a trip home for the town's most famous daughter, Tracey Emin:

"The focus of our seaside day out is Dreamland, the Kent resort's evocatively named amusement park, which has been the centre of its tourist industry for the past 83 years. Its owner, Jimmy Godden, recently announced that he is selling the site, making it look a dead cert for yet another retail development."

In the article, Emin remembers Dreamland from the past: the zoo, the helter-skelter and the Sphinx funhouse being particularly memorable. The conversation moves on to the Grade II listed Scenic Railway, which is seen as "a hindrance to progress":

"There is talk that consent will be sought to move it to a different location - plucking out Dreamland's main artery to make way for the bulldozers. Two groups, the Save Dreamland Campaign and the Scenic Railway Trust, have been started to lobby against closure and to get the ride working again, but neither has the economic clout to attempt a buyout - something that Emin says she would do in a heartbeat if she had the money."

Emin and Aitch's tour of the town also takes them to the Shell Grotto, centre of operations for the Save Dreamland Campaign:

"The Shell Grotto is an archaeological oddity: no one can decide whether it is a pre-Roman temple or just a charming Victorian folly. Owner Sarah Vickery has come no nearer the truth since she took over in 2001, though she has become a leading voice on tourism issues. She recently took on the mantle of coordinator for the Save Dreamland Campaign, reasoning that its death would have a drastic effect on the grotto and other attractions, such as the nearby Margate Caves."

The article concluded with a mention of the Save Dreamland Convention at the Theatre Royal on 1 June. Click here for the full article.

The Convention was also featured in an extensive article in Kent on Sunday newspaper.

Saturday, 24 May 2003

The Scenic Railway opens today and is featured on Meridian News.

Tickets for the Save Dreamland Convention are now on sale from the Scenic Railway itself at £2.50 each. All proceeds from tickets sold on the Scenic Railway will go to the Scenic Railway Trust and therefore will help to secure the ride's long term future. 

Friday, 23 May 2003

The Observer's Escape section on Sunday 25 May will feature an article about Tracey Emin, Margate, and the Save Dreamland Campaign. The article is written by Iain Aitch, who wrote the excellent 2002 article in The Guardian, Seaside Special. 


Wednesday, 21 May 2003

Today, we have added an additional event to the Save Dreamland Convention. This event is exclusive to European Coaster Club members and others who have purchased tickets in advance. These ticket holders can arrive at the Scenic Railway between 9.30 and 10.00am on 1 June. At 10.00am there will be a 45 minute behind the scenes tour of the ride, to include the station and extensive workshop areas within the structure of the ride. Brakemen Dave Collard and John Husband will be on hand to answer any questions. This will be a unique opportunity to see the workings of the oldest operating roller coaster in the UK. Whilst there will be no charge for the tour, the Trust would be grateful for any donations, however small.

The tour will finish at approximately 10.45am, just in time for people to make their way to the Theatre Royal for the Convention itself. Doors open at 11.30am to view trade stands and Dreamland memorabilia (the bar will be open as well!) The main show starts at 12.30pm. Tickets are still available to buy online here.

In other news, we are pleased to inform our campaign members that the Scenic Railway passed its annual safety inspection, so is now fully ready for Saturday's opening.

The Save Dreamland Campaign is featured in this month's edition of theme park industry magazine Park World.

Saturday, 17 May 2003

The Scenic Railway is to open for the 2003 season on Saturday 24 May. The ride will be operated by the Scenic Railway Trust, which has been set up to ensure the long-term survival of the Grade II listed ride. The remainder of the park is already open to the public and is operated by leading showman David Wallis, who has introduced a number of new attractions and has invested in various park improvements.

Sunday, 11 May 2003

The Save Dreamland Campaign is covered in the new issue of the SAVE Britain's Heritage Newsletter:

"The campaign to save Britain's oldest roller coaster is underway. The Dreamland Amusement Park, at Margate in Kent, is threatened with that old chestnut, comprehensive redevelopment. The roller coaster was listed at Grade II last year following the efforts of Nick Laister, the leader of the local campaign. The Scenic Railway roller coaster was built in 1920, and is one of only two surviving scenic railways in the UK. The survival rate of early roller coasters has not been high, with only 9 out of 120 standing. It is unlikely that the roller coaster cannot be run to make a profit - it is a popular attraction for locals, visitors and enthusiasts alike. However, since its closure last year, the amusement park is becoming a target for vandals. While other seaside towns are busy trying to create new identities for themselves, the councillors of Thanet are in danger of watering down Margate's by allowing the popular Dreamland amusement park to be bulldozed. A case of shooting oneself in the foot."

Friday, 9 May 2003

The Save Dreamland Campaign formally issues its objections to the Revised Thanet Local Plan. The Campaign's representations object to the changes to Policy T11 of the Plan, which as previously drafted would have ensured that the Dreamland site remained primarily as an amusement park for the benefit of Margate's tourism industry. That policy was changed by the Council at the last minute following representations made by the site's owner. The Campaign's representations also include the results of research undertaken by the Campaign which demonstrates that the amusement park is viable and that a redevelopment which does not include an amusement park element is completely unnecessary (and potentially harmful to the economy of the town). The Save Dreamland Campaign also presents its own vision for the site - a vision which is based on discussions with major theme park operators. Click here to view the Save Dreamland Campaign's representations to Thanet District Council. Click here to discuss the contents of the report on our Save Dreamland Campaign Forum.

Thursday, 1 May 2003

Nick Laister and Sarah Vickery of the Save Dreamland Campaign met with Colin Kiddell, prospective Conservative candidate and one of the people behind the Scenic Railway Trust. The Trust has been set up to run the Scenic Railway for the 2003 season, with a view to securing its long-term survival.

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader Nick Laister said: "The outcome of the meeting was that we found that there was a lot of common ground between us. We had previously not supported the Trust because we believed that its only aim was to move the Scenic Railway away from the Dreamland site, which we felt was potentially unnecessary. At the end of the day, both of our organisations want to see the Scenic Railway saved. We have now established an agreed position: The ideal outcome for both organisations is that the Scenic Railway remains in its current position and remains as a listed building. But if it cannot be retained in its current location, then another location within the Dreamland site would be second best, but still as part of a viable amusement park. Failing that, another location within Margate would be the fallback option. The main difference between us is that the Save Dreamland Campaign is actively working to ensure the retention of a major amusement park in Margate, with the Scenic Railway at its heart."

The Save Dreamland Campaign also presented its vision for the site to the Trust: “There was agreement that the redevelopment of the Dreamland site could present an exciting opportunity to give Margate one of the UK's best seaside amusement parks, potentially operated by one of the companies that have been working with the Save Dreamland Campaign over the past few months.”

"Both organisations accept that such an attraction does not have to use the entire site and that - given its size - there is a great opportunity to bring in new land uses, such as retail and/or leisure. But we all believe that the upgrade should deal with the entire site comprehensively, to create a major destination attraction, and the Scenic Railway should ideally remain a central feature within this theme park/leisure/retail development.”

Colin Kiddell says: "The Trust currently has no money in its coffers. Mr Godden wants his rent for the season (£25,000 plus 15% of the takings over the season), plus there is the insurance for the ride (£4800), certification (health and safety £1500) and the first month’s wages for three staff. I have put a lot of time and my own money into the project and am heavily committed. If the ride does not run this year it will be a financial disaster for me, for David Wallis (who is running Dreamland this year) and for Margate traders. I need help with donations to cover the initial costs and towards the target figure. Hopefully once the Scenic is running all other bills will be covered. My long-term plan is to raise £125,000 to secure the future of the ride.”

Contact Colin Kiddell on
+44 (0)1843 823648   mobile +44 (0)7787847861

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