PRESS RELEASE 11 August 2003

US Roller Coaster Enthusiasts Donate £1,000 to Margate's Threatened Scenic Railway


It is with great pleasure that the Save Dreamland Campaign announces that the US-based National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) has this week made a donation of £1,000 towards the preservation of the Grade II listed Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate. The Association makes an annual donation for the preservation of a classic amusement park ride and this year's 'Heritage Fund' donation has been made to recognise not only the fact that the Scenic Railway's future is in danger, but also its huge international importance, being the third oldest scenic railway in the world. The donation was made to the Scenic Railway Trust, which is currently operating the ride.


Save Dreamland Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, says: "This is fantastic news, which we at the Save Dreamland Campaign hope will go some way to help securing the ride's long-term preservation at Dreamland. NAPHA first made contact with the Save Dreamland Campaign back in July after several of their members had expressed an interest in making a donation to the campaign to save the Scenic Railway. We thought that the best home for the donation was with the Scenic Railway Trust, who are putting so much time and effort into ensuring the ride remains operational at this difficult time. On behalf of all members of the Save Dreamland Campaign, I would like to thank everyone at NAPHA for making this donation, and we hope to be able to welcome NAPHA members to many rides on the Scenic Railway in the future."


Bonnie Bonczyk, Director and Heritage Fund Coordinator at NAPHA said: “The National Amusement Park Historical Association is very pleased to announce the presentation of our Heritage Fund donation for 2003 for the continued preservation and operation of the Scenic Railway at Dreamland in Margate. Our members feel that it is very important to save this historic ride. The last Scenic Railway in the U.S. was torn down in 1981. As your Scenic Railway is the oldest operating roller coaster in Great Britain, we have strong feelings that this coaster should be preserved as an important part of amusement history. If this coaster is lost, future generations of coaster riders will never experience this unique ride.”


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. Or email


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




Information for Editors


The Save Dreamland 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, 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.


The National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) is an international organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of the amusement and theme park industry - past, present and future.  NAPHA was founded in 1978 by a former employee of Chicago's legendary Riverview Amusement Park (closed 1967) and has grown through the years to include amusement park enthusiasts from around the world. NAPHA’s website is


The Scenic Railway Trust has been set up to operate the Scenic Railway for the 2003 season and to secure its long-term preservation, ideally within Dreamland itself.


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 in the UK, 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 other surviving scenic railway in the UK is at the Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth, built in 1932, and is a more modern ride, with many of its original features lost.

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.


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


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.


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