News: June 2007

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.

Click here for the latest news

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Dismantling of the famous Southport Wild Mouse roller coaster has moved at a pace this week, with about 50% of the ride now down. The 1960-built structure, which previously operated at Morecambe's Frontierland Amusement Park, is being dismantled by the Save Dreamland Campaign for use in the proposed Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park.

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said: "I was on-site yesterday with our team of engineers - Hopkinson Constructional Engineering Ltd - and I can confirm that they are doing an absolutely fantastic job. We are slightly ahead of timetable and most of the rides have now been completely removed from site. Besides a few 'odds and sods' that will be picked up later, all that is left for us to do is complete the dismantling of the Wild Mouse and remove the final Sky Ride tower. The park will then be fully handed over to Norman Wallis and his team."

Pleasureland will reopen this year, operated by Wallis's Dreamstorm company. Nick continues:

"Most of the permanent structures on the park have now been demolished, with the exception of the more modern buildings at the east of the park and one or two structures that have asbestos roofing. The park will now be prepared for reopening under its new guise. I met Norman yesterday and wished him well with his venture, which I hope will be a great success."

Click here for a photo gallery of the Pleasureland rides being dismantled for Dreamland.

And click here for a general photo gallery of Pleasureland yesterday, showing the amount of demolition work that has taken place.

News of rides being dismantled in Southport by the Save Dreamland Campaign continues to make the news. Yesterday's Southport Visiter featured the news prominently.

Save Dreamland Campaign leader Nick Laister with five of the engineers dismantling the ride.

Above and below: The partially dismantled Wild Mouse in the middle of the bulldozed amusement park.


Champion Newspapers of Southport covered the story in an article headed: 'Pleasureland rides head for Margate'. The article states: "Southport Pleasureland bosses have donated their vintage rides to an amusement park in Kent. Dreamland, a similar park in Margate, hopes to build a new Heritage Amusement Park using rides from the former Southport funfair which was controversially closed last year by owners Blackpool Pleasure Beach." View the article in full.

The news was also featured in today's Saturday Observer, a local newspaper in Kent.

The news was also covered again in

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The Save Dreamland Campaign's dismantling of heritage rides at Southport's Pleasureland is the front page headline news in today's Southport Visiter newspaper. The article states: "Some of Pleasureland’s most memorable fairground rides will be saved from the bulldozer. The historic attractions, which are some of the last examples of their type in the world, will take centre stage at the new Heritage Amusement Park proposed for Margate. The news will be welcomed by Visiter readers who campaigned to save the amusement park’s traditional rides after the shock closure in September." Friday's Southport Visiter newspaper will include reaction to this news story. View the article in full.

The Lancashire and Morecambe Citizen reports on news of the dismantling of the Wild Mouse from Southport, which formerly operated at the town's Frontierland amusement park until 1999: "A Morecambe gem has been saved from the wreckers' ball and is to start a new life in a heritage museum. One of Frontierland's scariest ride is to be brought back to life and could be entertaining thrill seekers again in less than two years. The 1960s Wild Mouse roller coaster, an attraction at the resort's fun fair until it closed in 1999, has long been on the wish list of a campaign group trying to resurrect a theme park in Margate, Kent. The Save Dreamland Campaign wants to transform the Dreamland funfair into a heritage amusement park - the first in the country. And now it has secured the former Morecambe treasure as a feature." View article in full.

The proposed Heritage Amusement Park at Margate's Dreamland continues to attract much debate on the internet, including a further comment from the Eastcliff Richard blogger, and various posts in response, both for and against the proposal.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

It seems that Dreamland has suffered a few break-ins recently, according to an article in today's Thanet Times. 

Monday, 18 June 2007

News of the Save Dreamland Campaign dismantling rides at Southport's Pleasureland for the proposed Heritage Amusement Park has resulted in a flurry of media interest and quite a lot of gossip on internet forum sites.

BBC Radio Kent featured the news on its Breakfast Show, with Save Dreamland Campaign leader Nick Laister interviewed. The BBC also featured the news item on the front page of the BBC Kent website.

The news item was also covered today in the following places:

Kent News
Southport GB
Southport Reporter

The news has also been discussed on a number of internet forum sites, including Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain; Ultimate Rollercoaster; and CF-INFO Forums

Unfortunately, a large amount of inaccurate information has also been posted on the web about the proposals. The worst offender for misinformation we have been able to track down is an article on the Eastclff Richard blog which makes a number of false claims about the Heritage Amusement Park proposals and the Save Dreamland Campaign as a whole. Campaign Leader Nick Laister responds to the accusations below:

The Save Dreamland Campaign remove the Social Mixer from the Fun House.(Click on the image for a larger version). Image: Jim Lowe, (

The Sky Ride station with its canopy dismantled - work will shortly commence on the main wheel. (Click on the image for a larger version). Image: Jim Lowe, (

Statement from Nick Laister on behalf of the Save Dreamland Campaign:

"There have been some inaccurate things written about this campaign in the past, but perhaps none more so than an article that appeared on the blog site Eastcliff Richard yesterday. This article appears to be based 10% on the truth and the rest on a series of completely false assumptions, which we have to respond to. You can read the article here. I set the record straight on each of the blogger's accusations below.

1. The article states that "there are currently no plans for a 'heritage amusement park' on the Dreamland site, which has been closed since last year, apart from two tentative proposals put forward by property developers the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, aka Waterbridge, aka J Godden Esq (40%)."

The writer clearly hasn't seen our proposals then, which were launched on 30 April, and are set out in detail on the Save Dreamland website here.

I think I need to take this opportunity to clear up any misconceptions about our Concept Plan for the heritage amusement park and the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company's (MTCRC) plans. Jean-Marc Toussaint, the talented Paris based theme park designer, had not seen the two proposals of Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC) when he produced our new Concept Plan. MTCRC's plans were only publicly released on 28 April, two days before our plans were launched.

We proposed the heritage amusement park concept because we believed that it would be a unique attraction for Margate, a world's first, and would be an appropriate setting for the listed Scenic Railway. The destruction of much of the UK's amusement park heritage this year was another key driver.

2. The article then states that because these proposals are not approved plans and go against the views of an independent government inspector [perhaps the only accurate point in the entire article], then the storage of the rides is premature.

The rides have been dismantled and stored because they are historic attractions, some of the last representatives of their types in the country, and they were going to be demolished this week. Without them, our proposals for a Heritage Amusement Park could not have been implemented because most of the country's amusement park heritage outside of Blackpool and Great Yarmouth would have been destroyed. It was a clear case of "it's now or never"! We decided to act now for the wider benefit of this country's amusement park heritage.

3. This is the best bit. The article then goes on to state: "...Premature, that is, until you realise that the Save Dreamland Campaign which has long battled against the developers, has now rolled over and had its tummy tickled by them...the plans for this 'heritage amusement park' appear on the SDC website..."

The MTCRC plans do not appear on the SDC website. We have a link to their plans from the news page below. We are promoting our own plans here, which (as stated above) were produced by Jean-Marc Toussaint without any knowledge of MTCRC's plans.

4. The writer then states: "the SDC's website, in a touching show of mutual appreciation, now appears as a link on the developers' website."

That link has, to the best of my knowledge, been on MTCRC's website since it launched. It was inserted by the developers and I am more than happy for them to link to us. The link has no bearing on whether we support their plans or not.

It might actually surprise the writer of this blog that we did formally write to MTCRC with our comments on their plans shortly after they were released. Our letter has been downloadable from this website since the day it was issued. You can read the news item here and the letter itself can be downloaded from here. That letter represents this campaign's official response. That is the only response we have made to their plans to date.

5. The final point made in the article is amusing mainly because it flies in the face of what almost everybody else is saying in Margate and Southport: "It gets better. Having only been closed for a few months, the reason for putting Southport's Pleasureland rides into storage is because it is being transformed into a '£100m+ Euro Park', according to local sources. Something that Dreamland could only ever, er, dream of it seems."

The "£100m+ Euro Park" is actually an 18 month lease to a fairground operator who is going to operate travelling fairground rides on the former Pleasureland site whilst the Council considers its long-term future (more on that here).

So are we rolling over and having our tummy tickled by the developers? Rather than endless confrontation, I prefer to find common ground where it exists and work with the developers, council and other local organisations where possible. Plans to redevelop Dreamland in its entirety for retail, housing and commercial leisure will never be acceptable to this campaign. However, if the redevelopment of some of the site can secure the long-term future of an amusement park at Dreamland, then it has always been my personal view that this should be supported.

As stated above, and we made this clear when we announced our heritage park proposals in April, our preferred approach remains the retention of the entire site as an amusement park, in line with the government inspector's report. However, the heritage amusement park concept, which has been developed jointly with Thanet District Council and the Margate Renewal Partnership, offers a really exciting opportunity that could capture the public's imagination and play a major role in regenerating Margate. Given the need to act quickly if this park is to happen at all, and after consulting members of the campaign (who, by the way, overwhelmingly support Jean-Marc's fantastic plans), this Campaign decided to put its full weight behind the heritage amusement park concept. The final form of the heritage amusement park - whether MTCRC's plans, Jean-Marc Toussaint's, or something completely different - and how much of the park it covers, is a debate for another day."

Nick Laister
Campaign Leader

Another blog with (much less controversial) opinions on the proposals is Big News Margate.

Friday, 15 June 2007


The new Heritage Amusement Park proposed for Margate's Dreamland moved a step closer this week as dismantling work commenced on the remaining rides at the defunct Pleasureland Amusement Park in Southport, Merseyside. The rides, which are some of the last remaining examples of their type in the world, will be placed in storage to enable them to be rebuilt as part of the proposed Heritage Amusement Park at Dreamland, Margate.

Campaign Leader Nick Laister says: "Southport's Pleasureland is one of only a handful of seaside amusement parks in this country that still have original vintage amusement park rides. Rides such as the River Caves and Caterpillar date back to the 1920s. Sadly the park closed last year and the rides were due to be bulldozed this month to make way for a new temporary fairground operator. The Campaign has been in discussions with Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Pleasureland's new owners, Sefton Council, since February with a view to removing all the original rides to allow them to be placed in storage for use in the proposed Heritage Amusement Park. Thankfully these discussions have resulted in the rides being 'donated' to the Dreamland project".

The rides currently being dismantled include the vintage 1960-built Wild Mouse wooden roller coaster that formerly operated at Morecambe's Frontierland and the 1922 Caterpillar, identical to the one that operated at Dreamland between 1922 and 1980 and became one of its most famous rides. The Campaign's contractors (Hopkinson Construction Engineering Ltd, who have just completed construction of the Knightmare ride at Camelot) started work on ride dismantling on Wednesday 6 June and work should finish by 30 June.

Nick Laister says: "I visited Pleasureland a few weeks ago with ride engineers Dave Collard and David Wragg to survey the condition of the rides, most of which were in reasonably good condition. The rides would have all been bulldozed over the next few weeks as Sefton Council are in the process of clearing the site for Norman Wallis (‘Dreamstorm’), who has an 18-month lease on the site. We were given a very tight deadline to secure the necessary funding and remove the rides. A large proportion of the funding has been provided by the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd (MTCRC), the owners of Dreamland. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank Toby Hunter and the rest of the team at MTCRC; without their help these rides would undoubtedly have been lost and the Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park project could not have been delivered. I would also like to thank Tony Corfield at Sefton Council for his help, and for keeping the rides safe whilst the bulldozers cleared the rest of the site, and Susan Marsh for her valuable assistance."

The Save Dreamland Campaign launched its proposals for a Heritage Amusement Park, based around the listed Scenic Railway, in May 2007. The Heritage Amusement Park, which would be a world's first, will include some of the remaining examples of Britain's amusement park heritage in a high quality park-like environment around the Scenic Railway. The listed Cinema building would also be brought back into use with rides, shows, bars, restaurants and an amusement park/seaside heritage museum.

The Save Dreamland Campaign has set up The Dreamland Trust, which will play a key role in delivering the Heritage Amusement Park project. Nick, who is Chairman of The Dreamland Trust, adds: "We believe that this is the best option to secure the future of the Grade 2 listed Scenic Railway and for the distinguished history of the park to be recognised. It is also no exaggeration to say that within the next 12 months most of the country's amusement park heritage outside of Blackpool and Great Yarmouth will be lost. It is therefore an ideal way of safeguarding and preserving the UK's amusement park heritage at this critical time. We are currently in active discussions with a number of other parks with a view to saving their threatened vintage rides and moving them to Dreamland. The Dreamland project could not have been better timed and will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the regeneration of Margate."

Initial feasibility work undertaken by the Save Dreamland Campaign and by independent consultants suggests that the project will be viable. Further feasibility work on the project is to be undertaken over the coming weeks by a leading tourism consultancy.

Nick Laister concludes: "The project still has a long way to go, but we are hopeful that we can open the new Heritage Amusement Park for the 2009 season. I look forward to continuing to work with MTCRC and Thanet District Council to deliver this first class visitor attraction to Margate."

Click here for more details on the Heritage Amusement Park.

One of the Sky Ride chairlift towers are lifted by a Save Dreamland crane. (Click on the image for a larger version). Image: Roving Eye, (

Another shot of the Sky Ride being removed by the Save Dreamland Campaign. (Click on the image for a larger version). Image: Roving Eye, (

Dismantling commences on the Wild Mouse yesterday. (Click on the image for a larger version) Image: Richard Ryan

The area where the Mistral Flying Machine and Caterpillar once stood; both have now been removed and are in storage. (Click on the image for a larger version) Image: Richard Ryan

The Ghost Train building being bulldozed; the cars and track have been dismantled and placed in storage. (Click on the image for a larger version) Image: Richard Ryan

The Wild Mouse coaster is being numbered and carefully dismantled piece-by-piece. (Click on the image for a larger version). Image: Roving Eye, (