PRESS RELEASE 24 March 2003

Save Dreamland Convention Changes Dates and Gets Bigger!

The big Save Dreamland Convention, scheduled for 19th April 2003 at the Theatre Royal, Margate, has been moved to 1st June 2003 due to unforeseen circumstances. It will still take place at the same venue.

Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, said, “A number of factors have resulted in this change of date, including the size of programme we wanted to run and the availability of the Theatre and speakers. We have taken this opportunity to add to the programme, and make it even more of a special day out. We will be starting earlier, finishing later, and we have a few surprises up our sleeve. We apologise for any inconvenience this change may cause.”

The Save Dreamland Convention starts at 12.30pm and features a packed programme of events, which will include the following highlights:

·         A journey through the often turbulent history of the park by Mick Tomlinson, Chairman of the Margate Events Group.

·         A talk by Richard Foster, Chairman of the European Coaster Club, on why the Scenic Railway must be saved.

·         A special screening of the landmark 1953 short film, ‘O Dreamland’.

·         A talk from campaign leader Nick Laister on the Campaign’s aims and how supporters can make a difference.

·         A debate/Q&A session on how to take the campaign forward.

Amongst the added attractions are more film screenings (including Dreamland in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and a ride on the Scenic Railway in the 1990s), trade stands and a special exhibition of Dreamland memorabilia. Ticket-holders to the Convention will also be able to gain free admission to one of Margate’s other leading tourist attractions, the Grade I listed Shell Grotto, which will be home to a display showing Dreamland through the years. The organisers expect to add more to the programme over the coming weeks.

The Save Dreamland Campaign speaks on behalf of almost 13,000 people who want to save the Dreamland Pleasure Park, and its Grade II listed Scenic Railway roller coaster. Campaign membership includes local organisations such as the Margate Civic Society, the Margate Historical Society and the Margate Hotel and Guest House Association. It also includes several national and international groups, such as the European Coaster Club, Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, the Fairground Association of Great Britain and SAVE Britain’s Heritage. Hundreds of roller coaster enthusiasts from around the world are expected to attend the rescheduled event, as well as local people, some whose livelihoods depend upon tourism trade and many who care for Margate’s heritage and its future.

Campaign leader, Nick Laister, says: “The event will be a celebration of Dreamland’s past, and will include a public debate on the park’s future. We have been bowled over by the level of support for this campaign, so we thought that a special event such as this would further raise the profile of the campaign, and would allow us to demonstrate just how important Dreamland is to the people of Margate and the park’s many thousands of regular visitors.”

Following the show, which will finish at approximately 3.30pm, everyone will congregate outside Dreamland for a photograph. This will be an opportunity for the media to take photographs of, and interview, campaign supporters.

The event is being organised by Local Campaign Coordinator, Sarah Vickery, who says, “This is an opportunity for everyone who feels strongly about Dreamland’s future to make their voice heard and send a clear message to the decision makers. We can do this through the Save Dreamland Convention, and have some fun in the process!”

Tickets to the event are Ł2.50 and are available by sending a cheque, payable to ‘Save Dreamland Campaign’, to the Save Dreamland Campaign, The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate, Kent CT9 2BU. Tickets can also be purchased securely online by credit card from Seats are limited and are on a first-come-first-served basis.

For further information, or to organise interviews, please contact Nick Laister (Campaign Leader) on 01235 838214 (day), 07778 207036 (mobile) or 01235 762186 (evenings and weekends) or Sarah Vickery (Local Campaign Coordinator) on 01843 220008.

To find out more about the Save Dreamland Campaign visit the campaign’s new look website at


Information for Editors

The Campaign has been launched to save the Dreamland Pleasure Park, Margate, home of the UK’s oldest roller coaster, the 83-year-old listed Scenic Railway. Dreamland’s owner proposes to replace the park with a supermarket, shops and casino. The Campaign is led by planning expert Nick Laister, a leading authority on the UK amusement park industry, 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, 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.

The Convention is being held at Margate’s historic Theatre Royal. The Theatre was established by Royal Patent in 1786 and opened on the 27th June, 1787. It is the second oldest theatre operating in Great Britain. It is also the oldest un-restored theatre in the country, its splendid auditorium dating from the 1874 designs by J T Robinson. The Theatre Royal is at Addington Street, Margate, just a few minutes’ walk from Dreamland. Click here for a location plan.

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 one surviving intact. The removal of this ride would almost completely wipe out this important part of British amusement park heritage.

The other surviving scenic railway is at the Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth, and was built in 1932.

The Scenic Railway at Dreamland is the oldest surviving roller coaster in the United Kingdom. Its age and rarity were major factors in support of its listing. It is now a Grade II listed building, the only amusement park ride in Britain to be given statutory listed status.

The report submitted to English Heritage, which resulted in the Scenic Railway becoming a listed building, can be downloaded for free from

When a structure is listed it is placed on a statutory list of buildings of 'special architectural or historic interest' compiled by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of a building is carefully considered before any alterations are agreed. There are currently over 37,000 buildings and other structures protected by listing status. For more information on listed buildings, visit the English Heritage website on

Nick Laister BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI MIHT is a leading authority on the UK theme park industry. He is a Chartered Town Planner and Technical Director with the RPS Group plc, and specialises in planning for tourism and leisure. He has been involved in a number of listed buildings and conservation cases, and has appeared as expert witness at several public inquiries and hearings. He has written articles for a number of newspapers and journals and has been invited to speak at conferences on the subject of planning for tourism and leisure. He is regularly interviewed on television and radio on the same subject. He is co-owner of Skelter Publishing LLP and editor of the web site Click here to email Nick Laister.

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 Vice-Chair of the Isle of Thanet Tourism Association, Chair of the Thanet Contemporary Arts Festival and a member of the Margate Events Group. She moved to Margate with her family in 2001 to take over the Grotto which she has known and loved since childhood. Before this Sarah was a journalist specialising in arts and travel, writing for a range of magazines and newspapers and editing books. Click here to email Sarah Vickery.

Dreamland Pleasure Park is located at Belgrave Road, Margate. The telephone number is 01843 227011.