News: October 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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Friday, 31 October 2003

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, is interviewed live on the Barbara Sturgeon Show on BBC Radio Kent. The interview was to mark Dreamland's 'final day'. With some rides already being dismantled, Laister explained that Dreamland is "closing for the season, not closing down", and that the Campaign is hopeful that the park will reopen again next year, operated as this year by a showman as an interim measure whilst the fate of the site is decided. 

Sturgeon asked Laister how the campaign is going. Nick explained that the campaign had won a lot of support within the council and that the campaign's message is now getting through. He also said he was pleased that the council had given a firm "no" to Stadium Developments' plans for retail development on the site, through the review of the Local Plan.

Laister also reaffirmed that the Campaign is still working closely with one of Europe's biggest theme park operators which maintains its interest in acquiring and/or operating the site, describing their plans for Dreamland as "exciting".

Local Campaign Coordinator, Sarah Vickery, was also interviewed by BBC Television South East News on Friday. Broadcast on their evening news bulletin, the BBC also interviewed former Dreamland Park Manager, David Bill, and local councillor and ex-Dreamland employee, Mick Tomlinson. Sarah recounted her Dreamland memories and talked about how magical the place was as a child. When asked what Margate will be like without Dreamland she replied, "Where's the magic?" 

The BBC are now asking for your own Dreamland memories. Post them here.

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

The author of Dreamland Remembered, Nick Evans, has launched a new range of Dreamland products. Nick is having 250 mugs printed up with an illustration based on a 1920s advert which shows a graphic (as opposed to photographic) of the park's skyline and text naming some of the the big rides. Mugs will be available for the first time next Sunday 2 November at a craft fair at Cliftonville's Grand Hotel between 10 and 4pm from Nick's table. He will also be selling books and postcard frames containing reproductions of Dreamland and Lido posters from the 1950s and 1960s.

Above: Dreamland mugs!
Mugs cost between 4.50 each. The frames, which hold four postcard size repros of posters, are 24 each and form a series of six. Discounts available for people buying more than one! The mugs will also be available mail order from PO Box 201, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1WT at 6 each, including p&p. The book Dreamland Remembered is available to order online from Joyland Books by clicking here.

Tuesday, 7 October 2003

Sarah Vickery was interviewed live on the BBC Radio Kent Breakfast Show this morning about Dreamland's 2002 visitor figures. The DJ, Andy Garland, suggested that they provided the Campaign with an armoury against comments such as those the Isle of Thanet Gazette, which described Save Dreamland Campaign members as a "rather pathetic group of mourners". 

The Thanet Times also carries a story about Dreamland's 2002 visitor numbers.


Monday, 6 October 2003

Campaign Leader Nick Laister is interviewed by KMFM about the newly released visitor numbers for Dreamland.  

Sunday, 5 October 2003

Kent on Sunday carried a story about Dreamland's 2002 visitor numbers, featuring quotes from Save Dreamland Campaign Leader Nick Laister.

Saturday, 4 October 2003

As more people begin to realise that Dreamland cannot be allowed to be redeveloped, yet another person speaks out. Yesterday's Isle of Thanet Gazette carried the following news item under the headline 'Dreamland boss tells of need for attraction':

"The effect on Thanet of the closure of Dreamland has been spelled out by fun park manager David Bill. The Margate attraction's last summer season ended at the weekend, with many visitors telling staff of their sadness that a piece of Thanet history will disappear. Mr Bill believes the isle needs something like Dreamland to help it compete with more popular holiday destinations. "There needs to be some form of entertainment here," he said. "We have beaches, but there's not a great deal else. We can't compete with Center Parcs or Alton Towers, but there will always be things here that traditional holidaymakers like. The kiss-me-quick hats, the ice cream and arcade, that's what Margate is about. We don't get many people coming down here to stay for weeks at a time and there aren't many quality hotels. People still come here for day trips." Mr Bill has held various positions at the park in the last nine years. He was there in the Nineties when Jimmy Godden bought Dreamland from the Bembom brothers. He said: "I thought it was another new life for Dreamland, but similar things have happened to last time and takings have gone down. People don't realise it's an expensive business to keep it going. Rides cost an arm and a leg, there are health and safety issues and staff to pay. It's my feeling there'll be a nucleus of rides here in the spring.""

Wednesday, 1 October 2003

Official visitor numbers have been released for Dreamland showing that last year it was one of Britain's Top Ten amusement parks. The report 'Visits to Visitor Attractions 2002', recently released by Visit Britain (the new name for the British Tourism Authority), shows that Dreamland attracted 680,000 visitors in 2002. In 2001 it attracted 700,000 visitors and in 2000 it attracted 650,000 visitors. Dreamland is now ranked as the fifth most-visited free entry amusement park in the United Kingdom.

Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said: "This further emphasises the need to retain this hugely important tourist attraction. Could Margate's tourist industry really survive the loss of an attraction which draws in almost 700,000 visitors every year, and could - in our view - draw in many more visitors under a committed ownership? I receive emails almost every day from families - many from the London area - who say that they will no longer visit Margate if Dreamland closes. They all say that they will have to start visiting rival resorts such as Brighton and Southend-on-Sea to find the sort of facilities that Margate currently offers. None of the proposals that have so far been put forward by those trying to secure higher land values for the site would attract anything like the visitors that Dreamland attracts to the town." 

Laister adds: "I have also been told by the person who has operated the Scenic Railway this year, Dave Collard, that the year has been a great success. Over 40,000 rides were taken on the Scenic Railway, and the ride has more than paid for itself. That is despite it not being part of the wristband system, and with the park having been run-down over the past few years. 

"This changes the whole campaign. We now know that we have a viable listed building in a viable park. Whereas before we could only speculate, now we know for certain. Planning policy is 100% clear about this - with proof that the Scenic Railway is viable and with interest from operators in taking on the ride and the park in which it stands, the Scenic Railway must remain in its existing location. The UK planning system should now be able to save Dreamland. There can be no justification for the Council to allow this famous tourist landmark to disappear."

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