News: August 2003

In  January 2003 the owner of Dreamland, Jimmy Godden, announced the closure of Dreamland. The park is to be redeveloped as "leisure boxes, some retail and a supermarket". Joyland Books will provide updates on the campaign to save Dreamland and its internationally-important Scenic Railway ride.

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Saturday, 30 August 2003

Thanet District Council has published its draft responses to the public consultation on the Revised Thanet Local Plan. The Save Dreamland Campaign's representations to the Plan, issued to the Council in May 2003, can be read by clicking here

The Draft Schedule of Responses on the Thanet District Council website shows that the Dreamland policy received by far the most objections of any policy in the Plan, demonstrating the lack of public support for the Council's policy U-turn on the site earlier this year. The previous draft plan - the subject of extensive public consultation - protected the Dreamland Amusement Park as Margate's most important tourist destination. Following representations made by the owner of Dreamland (after the closing of the previous statutory public consultation period on the Local Plan) the Council made a last minute U-turn on the policy. This was despite the fact that the previous public consultation had resulted in the Council resolving to strengthen the protection of the Amusement Park only a matter of weeks earlier. The replacement policy now allows for the complete redevelopment of the site, and the loss of the internationally important Scenic Railway roller coaster, the oldest roller coaster in the United Kingdom. 

Despite the strength of objection to the Policy, the Council proposes no change to the Dreamland policy, stating that it is awaiting the results of the current consultants study.

The Schedule also includes the objections of Stadium Developments Ltd, the Company which proposes to redevelop the Dreamland site for retail uses. Their plans have suffered a serious setback as, in the Draft Schedule, the Council has rejected all their attempts to have the Dreamland site allocated for retail development.

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said:

"The Council's draft response to our objections comes as no surprise. As the Council has only recently made this U-turn, it was always unlikely that they would realise their mistake so quickly. The Council does, however, acknowledge in the report that it wants the site to remain in tourist and leisure uses, which is a step in the right direction. The main thing to come out of this process is that the Save Dreamland Campaign is now able to appear at the public inquiry and put forward our strong case for the retention of this important tourist attraction and its Grade II listed Scenic Railway. 

It is also very reassuring that the Council has not accepted any of the changes to the Local Plan proposed by Stadium Developments, which would have seen the Dreamland site turned into a massive supermarket and shopping centre, in our view ending any hope of Margate's regeneration as a leading seaside resort.

We are still, however, very concerned that the Council is not making a clear commitment to retain and enhance the Amusement Park, when operators are willing to operate the park and the Scenic Railway as part of an overall enhancement and redevelopment of the site. The Council appears to be relying on the results of the current Margate seafront study, but to date the Save Dreamland Campaign has not been invited to participate in this Study. Until this oversight is rectified, we have no confidence in its results.

We need a clearer sign from the Council that this important tourist asset is to be protected in the Local Plan."

The Draft Schedule will be taken to the Council's Policy Development Panel on 3rd September 2003 before going to Cabinet on 16th October and Full Council on 23rd October. Click here for a more detailed summary of the Council's response to objections. Click here for the full document on the Thanet District Council website. Or click here to discuss this news in our Save Dreamland Forum.

Friday, 29 August 2003

Local Campaign Co-ordinator Sarah Vickery yesterday began her training to become a Scenic Railway Brakeman (or should that be Brakewoman?) under the watchful, and slightly nervous, eye of Dave Collard. Sarah reports that taking an empty train around was "absolutely terrifying". A full report with
photos will appear soon.

Sarah is hoping to be fully trained up in time for the European Coaster Club's Scenic Railway Roaring 20s Night on 20th September. More details on that event very soon.


Thursday, 28 August 2003

The long awaited new book Dreamland Remembered is available now. The book traces the history of the famous amusement park from its origins in the early years of the Twentieth Century right through to the current campaign to save the park. It includes over 200 photographs, many of which have never been seen in print before, showing the many rides and attractions that have appeared at the park over the years. Rides like the Scenic Railway, River Caves, Caterpillar, and Racing Coaster are shown, plus many more besides. The book follows the park's roller coaster history through the Iles and Associated Leisure Years, then documents the changes that took place under the ownership of the Bembom Brothers. The story concludes with the turn of the millennium, under the ownership of Jimmy Godden and under threat of closure. As a bonus, the book features the history of one of Iles' other Margate empires, the Lido. Click here for more information or to buy your own copy from Joyland Books.

Thursday, 14 August 2003

Scenic Railway brakeman Dave Collard, and all at the Save Dreamland Campaign, would like to thank Dave Wells and Mark Bucknall of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain (RCCGB) for raising 200 for the Scenic Railway on their recent visit to Oakwood Leisure Park, home of the Megafobia wooden roller coaster. Dave and Mark raised the money by selling pieces of timber from the Scenic Railway to members of the RCCGB, who were visiting the Welsh theme park on a club trip. The donation was received today. Dave Collard says: "there is more Scenic Railway timber to sell if anyone else is interested...!"

Monday, 11 August 2003

We have been informed by Scenic Railway brakeman Dave Collard that Colin Kiddell is no longer associated with the Scenic Railway Trust. Please ensure that all future correspondence to the Trust is addressed to Dave. Dave's details are: Dave Collard, Scenic Railway, 10 Walpole Road, Margate, Kent CT9 1QG. Tel: 07710714741. Email:

Saturday, 9 August 2003

Save Dreamland Campaign member Alan Cooksey and his two daughters today presented the Scenic Railway ride-operators with specially-made Campaign T-shirts. Visitors to Dreamland regularly ask the Scenic Railway staff about the future of the ride, and most are very unhappy to learn that the ride and park could soon disappear. The vast proportion vow never to visit Margate again. The Scenic Railway staff requested Campaign T-shirts, so that they can show park visitors that they do not support the plans to demolish the Scenic Railway and close Margate's biggest tourist attraction. On Saturday, the station was adorned with Save Dreamland posters and banners. Click here for Alan Cooksey's report of the day when the Scenic Railway staff pleaded: "Save Dreamland"!

Tuesday, 5 August 2003

It is with great pleasure that the Save Dreamland Campaign announces that the US-based National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) today made a donation of 1,000 to the Scenic Railway Trust. The Association makes an annual donation to the preservation of a classic amusement park ride and this year's 'Heritage Fund' donation has been made to recognise not only the fact that the Scenic Railway's future is in danger, but also its huge international importance, being the third oldest scenic railway in the world. The donation was made early this morning by Bonnie Bonczyk, Director and Heritage Fund Coordinator at National Amusement Park Historical Association.

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, says: "This is fantastic news, which we at the Save Dreamland Campaign hope will go some way to help securing the ride's long-term preservation at Dreamland. NAPHA first made contact with the Save Dreamland Campaign back in July after several of their members had expressed an interest in making a donation to the campaign to save the Scenic Railway. We thought that the best home for the donation was with Colin Kiddell and Dave Collard at the Scenic Railway Trust, who are both putting so much time and effort into ensuring the ride remains operational at this difficult time. On behalf of all members of the Save Dreamland Campaign, I would like to thank everyone at NAPHA for making this donation, and we hope to be able to welcome NAPHA members to many rides on the Scenic Railway in the future."

See also the official press release.

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