News: August to September 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

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Dave Collard, Simon Goodenough and Sarah Vickery represented the Save Dreamland Campaign on Sunday 16 September at Margate Day, an event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Margate's Charter and featuring a spectacle of light and sound.

Part of the celebration was a free exhibition in the Queens Hall at Margate's Winter Gardens, depicting Margate through the last 150 years and into the future. The Save Dreamland Campaign attended with a stand of Dreamland memorabilia and merchandise. Other exhibitors included Thanet District Council, the Margate Renewal Partnership, Hornby Trains, Paigle Properties and the Margate Civic Society.

“It was a really enjoyable day,” reports Sarah. “We signed up dozens of new members and met a good number of existing campaigners too. Whenever we attend a public event we always receive plenty of support and encouragement - and this one was no different.”

Simon Goodenough, Dave Collard and Sarah Vickery. We wonder what the collective noun is for a gathering of Scenic brakemen? Click on the image for a larger version.

Dave was interviewed by Your Local TV Online and his interview can be viewed by clicking here. The event was rounded off with a spectacular firework display. Thanks go to Mick Tomlinson for organising the event and being kind enough to invite us.

There has been much about Dreamland in the press over the last few weeks. Some of the key stories are below.

The Isle of Thanet Gazette reported the forthcoming sale of Dreamland to local developer Paigle Properties in the 14 September edition.

The Isle of Thanet Gazette on 7 September carried a number of items of Dreamland interest.

The Thanet Extra of 7 September was full of Dreamland articles.

There was also a small article and letter in the Thanet Times dated 11 September.

The Thanet Times of 4 September announced the public consultation on the Dreamland Planning Brief. 

Saturday, 15 September 2007

We apologise for the lack of updates on this page since early August. This was caused by technical difficulties with the website, which have now been resolved. Our news service should now be back to normal.

Thanet District Council has launched a public consultation on a Planning Brief for Dreamland. Following this consultation, the Council will adopt the Brief for the purposes of development control.

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, made the following statement: "Any future planning applications for the Dreamland site will be considered against the brief. It is therefore essential that everybody with an interest in the site responds to the consultation."

This brief proposes a mixed use scheme, keeping the majority of the site, including the Dreamland building and Scenic Railway as part of an amusement based destination. It also states that development proposals should meet the following criteria:

• Retention and refurbishment of the Dreamland Cinema building for leisure uses that could include conference facilities.

Above: Proposals for the redevelopment of Dreamland in Thanet District Council's new Planning Brief. The blue area, centred on the Scenic Railway, will be "leisure/amusement park". Click on the image for a larger version.

• Keeping the Scenic Railway.

• An amusement park on the existing park area around the Scenic Railway, which must cover more than 50% of the site area.

• Bars, restaurants and specialist shops within the park.

• Provision of a 250 space public car park.

• Associated enabling development, including a mix of family homes and apartments.

• The development will be phased to ensure an amusement park to operate before, during and after the development.

Nick Laister continues: "This is a brief that stands every chance of being accepted by any current or future owner of Dreamland, and therefore is a realistic way forward, ensuring the continuation of an amusement park on at least 50% of the site, and requiring the Scenic Railway's retention. In my opinion, this campaign should support this brief. This brief also allows the park to be operated as a modern seaside fun park, by an established operator such as Adventure Island (who are still very much interested in the site) or as a heritage amusement park, as recently proposed by this Campaign."

To download the brief in full, click here. To view the summary brief on the Council's website, click here.

IMPORTANT: To tell the Council what you think of the brief, click here. There is conflicting information about when the consultation ends. According to the survey form and press release, the consultation ends on Friday 12 October 2007, but on the Planning Brief consultation website it states that comments must be received no later than 19 October 2007. Get your comments in early!

Other news:

Dreamland featured heavily in an article in the Guardian newspaper on 12 September 2007. The article on seaside regeneration starts with references to Dreamland and later mentions the campaign. Read the article.

On the day of the Guardian article, Nick Laister and Susan Marsh of the Save Dreamland Campaign/Dreamland Trust spent the day in Margate on a series of meetings. The first meeting was with Derek Harding of the Margate Renewal Partnership (MRP) and senior representatives of Thanet District Council (TDC) and English Partnerships, to discuss the future of Dreamland. This meeting follows on from several meetings held between Nick Laister, MRP and TDC earlier in the year, at which the emerging heritage amusement park plans were discussed. At this meeting, the Dreamland Trust was supported by heritage consultant Jason Wood, who will be advising the Trust and MRP on Heritage Lottery applications.
Above: Susan Marsh MBE, Sarah Vickery, Nick Laister and Dave Collard pictured in the Shell Grotto garden shortly before Nick and Susan's first meeting. (Click on the image for a larger version).

This was followed by a separate meeting with Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel, and Deputy Council Leader, Roger Latchford OBE, to discuss general progress with the heritage amusement park project, funding, and plans for the next stages. Nick and Susan also met with other key stakeholders who will be involved in the future of Dreamland.

There has been much coverage of Dreamland, the Campaign and the new public consultation exercise in the local press. The Isle of Thanet Gazette on 31 August featured the repercussions of the closure of the Dreamland cinema.

The Thanet Extra of 31 August also included news of the Cinema's impending closure.

The Thanet Times also covered the news extensively on 28 August.

Local newspapers have also featured extensive coverage of the Council's consultation on the Dreamland Planning Brief. The Thanet Extra on 10 August 2007 included a news item with the headline 'Dreamland looks to future - and past."

News of the surprise closure of the circus at the Dreamland site was reported by the Isle of Thanet Gazette on 10 August. This news was also reported by the Thanet Times on 14 August.

Dreamland was a hot topic on the letters page of the Thanet Extra on 17 August.

On 7 August, the Thanet Times reported the Council's forthcoming consultation on the future of Dreamland.

The Thanet Extra reported that the future of Dreamland is now secure on 3 August 2007.

On 27 July, the Thanet Times featured an article on other proposals to rejuvenate Margate.

In other news, Dreamland was covered in the newsletter of SAVE Britain's Heritage:

Margate, Dreamland and Pleasureland, Southport

After the farcical non-listing followed by unduly hasty destruction of the 1938 Cyclone Rollercoaster in Southport (one of a handful of surviving timber historic rollercoasters in the UK, see last Newsletter), the Save Dreamland campaign (Newsletter April 2003) has stepped in – with the proposal for a heritage amusement park. This would be based around the Grade II listed Scenic Railway coaster at Margate (half destroyed by fire in 1949 and timber replaced by that from Lowestoft pier) and the 1935 listed Dreamland Cinema. They have managed to get hold of parts of most of the remaining historic attractions at Pleasureland (many also refused listing on rather disputable grounds) before its owner, Sefton Council, flattened them, including a c1920s Caterpillar (which may in fact be older), the 1960 Wild Mouse coaster, and the working parts and boats of the River Caves, which dates back to 1908.

Sadly, it seems the 1948 Crooked House (Haunted Inn) cannot be dismantled - it is the oldest of three remaining in the country and, denied listing, its immediate future is probably as landfill. Pictures and Pleasureland history are available on

Some of you are probably scratching your heads and wondering why this is important. The current revival of seaside towns is hugely welcome but it is being accompanied by attempts, often misplaced, to update the attractions without realising that kitsch charm is very much a part of the delight of the place. The absurd upshot (as in so many cases) is that the new development devalues that on which it seeks to capitalise. Rising land values mean amusement parks are being sold for housing and shops, and even when parks remain, newer and more terrifying machines are ousting the old.  As a result, many of the parks, historic structures and machines that have terrified and delighted generations of visitors are vanishing to the extent that shortly only a handful of historic seaside amusement parks with vintage attractions in the UK will remain – Yarmouth, Blackpool, and the now closed Dreamland, Margate. There are currently only two listed amusement park rides/structures in the country – Margate’s Scenic Railway (itself at risk) and the waterchute in a park in Hull.

For these reasons the Dreamland Trust initiative is especially welcome and we offer Nick Laister and the Save Dreamland Campaign our very strongest support for the scheme. A future SAVE outing beckons…

For further details of the campaign to save Dreamland and the historic rides see  

Click here to download the article in its original form.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Thanet District Council’s Cabinet considered a new Planning Brief for Dreamland yesterday evening. The Brief has been developed by the Council along with other key stakeholders, including the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA), Kent County Council, English Partnerships and the Save Dreamland Campaign.

The Brief builds on the recommendations in the Thanet Local Plan, which states that proposals that would “lead to a reduction in the attractiveness of Dreamland as an amusement park” will be resisted and that only a limited part of the park can be developed as part of a comprehensive scheme to upgrade the park, but only if it can be demonstrated that this will secure the park’s future.

The Planning Brief proposes a mixed scheme, retaining the majority of the site, including the listed Dreamland building and Scenic Railway, as part of an amusement based destination, along with an element of other development, including residential. Specifically the brief states that development proposals should meet the following criteria:

·         Refurbishment of the Dreamland Cinema building for leisure uses that could include conference facilities.

·         Keeping the Scenic Railway.

·         An amusement park on the existing park area around the Scenic Railway.

·         Bars, restaurants and specialist shops within the park.

·         Provision of a 250 space public car park.

·         Associated enabling development, including a mix of family homes and apartments.

The Brief states that the total area of the amusement park, ancillary uses, refurbished cinema and car park should comprise more than 50% of the site area and that the development will be phased to ensure an amusement park to operate before, during and after the development.

The Council’s press release can be viewed on the Council's website here.

Download the Cabinet Report on Dreamland here (this explains why the Council has produced a Brief for the Dreamland site) and download the Dreamland Planning Brief itself here. (Both documents are in MS Word format).

The Council will now consult on the Brief. This consultation will take the form of an exhibition/open day and various targeted stakeholder meetings. The results of the consultation will be reported to Cabinet in November, after which the Brief will be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document, which will be used to assess any planning applications that are submitted for the site.

Discuss the new brief on our Forum.

Other news:

The Thanet Adscene newspaper of 26 July carried a piece on the Dreamland Planning Brief.

Finally, a photographic exhibition on the demise of former Dreamland owner Jimmy Godden's Rotunda Amusement Park on Folkestone seafront has opened. Save Dreamland Campaign member, Ian Mansfield, reports:

"The pictures start with the park in its last year of operation and go right through to the Runaway Coaster as a big pile of wood. It's really really sad, but the pictures are stunning, often taken at night with long shutter speeds."

The exhibition, called 'GONE', runs until next Wednesday at Georges House Gallery at the top of the old High Street. More info can be found at :

Click here for the latest news

Return to Save Dreamland

Return to Joyland Books: for the biggest selection of amusement park books on the Web!