15 June 2005

Save Dreamland Campaign on tour!
Raising awareness and recruiting new members at the Preston Steam Rally
Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June 2005, 10am to 5pm
Preston Court Farm, Preston-Next-Wingham, Nr Canterbury

Now into its third year, and proving a firm favourite with visitors of all ages, the Preston Steam Rally will be packed with things to see and do, all set in a beautifully tranquil rural setting. This year’s rally will feature a traditional steam fair and some 25 visiting steam traction engines, plus vintage and classic cars, historic tractors, commercial vehicles, military equipment and innumerable other items of nostalgic interest.

The Save Dreamland Campaign will also be in residence, alerting visitors to the plight of Margate’s famous amusement park and its historic 85-year-old listed Scenic Railway.

The Campaign's stand will feature some fantastic pieces of Dreamland heritage,” says Sarah Vickery, Local Campaign Co-ordinator. “We’re particularly excited about getting Billie the train out in the sunshine for the first time in years!”

This 15" gauge locomotive operated on the Dreamland Miniature Railway from 1920 and continued carrying happy passengers for many years.

Campaign Leader Nick Laister will be at the stand providing information on the Campaign, our Concept Plan and the park’s future. Former Scenic Railway brakeman Dave Collard will also be on hand to answer your questions about the famous roller coaster and there’ll be a chance to buy amusement park and fairground books from

You’ll find us up at the steam fair alongside the traditional gallopers set, chair-o-planes, swing boats, dodgems and train rides, which will be powered by showmens’ steam road locomotives - a sight not normally seen in Kent.

Many of the rally’s visiting traction engines will participate in ring events and there will be plenty of opportunities for visitors to join in steering races, tug-of-war and other popular arena games. Two steam-powered saw benches will be running, reducing mighty trees to useful timber, together with other demonstrations including threshing and road rolling.

A large section of trade stalls will be selling all manner of wares, while catering stands and a traditional ale tent will help keep visitors replenished. 

On Saturday night from 8pm there is a rally party in the Kentish barn featuring the well-known local band ‘The Interseptors’, accompanied and illuminated by a row of mighty showmen's engines. Tickets for the concert are just £4.00 each.

One of the main beneficiaries of the event is St Mildred’s, the local 12th-century Church that lies next to the rally field.  Visitors to the rally pass through the churchyard where they can view local history displays and buy locally-made produce. The vicar Rev Mark Griffin also holds a unique Sunday morning church service on the fairground gallopers at 10.30am, accompanied by hymns from the mechanical fair organ.

Preston Court Farm is home to one of the largest collections of steam engines in the UK, ranging from mighty water pumping engines to the smallest models, and all these will also be on display during the weekend.

More information on the Preston Steam Rally can be found at or by calling 01227 722502. Admission is £5 for adults and £3 for children, with free car parking. Members of the Save Dreamland Campaign can claim discounted admission if they pre-order vouchers; log onto our website for details.


Information for Editors

For further information on the Rally, photographs and interviews please call Michael List Brain on 01227 722502. Or email

For further information on the Save Dreamland Campaign please contact Sarah Vickery (Local Campaign Coordinator) on 01843 220008. Or email

The Save Dreamland Campaign was launched in 2003 to save the Dreamland Pleasure Park, Margate, home of the UK’s oldest roller coaster, the 85-year-old listed Scenic Railway. Dreamland’s owner proposes to replace the park with shops and housing. The Campaign is lead by planning expert Nick Laister, a leading amusement park historian, planning consultant and editor of, the specialist amusement park bookstore. The Campaign is now speaking on behalf of 13,000 people, including local residents, businesses and organisations such as the Margate Historical Society, Margate Civic Society, the Margate Hotel and Guest House Association, European Coaster Club, Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain and SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

The official campaign website is The campaign can be emailed at The address for all correspondence is Save Dreamland Campaign, The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate, Kent CT9 2BU.

Over 120 wooden roller coasters, the centrepiece of most amusement parks in the 20th Century, were built between 1885 and 1960. Only nine now survive. Only two 'Scenic Railway' roller coasters now survive, and the Scenic Railway at Dreamland is the only surviving ‘first generation’ scenic railway. The removal of this ride would almost completely wipe out this important part of British amusement park heritage.

The Scenic Railway at Dreamland is the oldest surviving roller coaster in the United Kingdom, the sixth oldest roller coaster in the world. Its age and rarity were major factors in support of its listing. It is the third oldest scenic railway in the world.

Nick Laister BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI MIHT is a Chartered Town Planner and Technical Director with the RPS Group plc, the UK’s largest planning consultancy, and he specialises in planning for tourism and leisure. He is a leading authority on amusement parks and editor of the web site He is also co-owner of independent publishers, Skelter Publishing LLP.

Sarah Vickery owns and runs the Grade 1 listed Shell Grotto in Margate, a popular tourist attraction with shop, museum and cafe attached. She is a Board Member of the Margate-based group Limbo Arts Ltd and a member of the Isle of Thanet Tourism Association.

Dreamland Pleasure Park is located at Belgrave Road, Margate. The telephone number is 01843 299244.