Pimms O’Clock: 'Roaring 20s Night'
Saturday 20 September 2003

Report by European Coaster Club Chairman Richard Foster

Marathon riders in 1920s-style dress on Dreamland's Roaring 20s Night.

What a day. 

A good few months ago I had been talking to Dave Collard, with the germ of an idea of doing a special event on the Scenic Railway. Now I was standing in Margate town centre, dressed in white flannels, a blazer and a straw boater. Oh and I have a fake moustache below my nose. A very itchy fake moustache. I am handing out leaflets advertising the “Roaring Twenties Night”, the result of a lot of talking, and of the efforts of Ian Mansfield, Sarah Vickery and Dave Collard.

I do wish I had recorded some of the feedback we got, wandering around the town centre on a busy Saturday afternoon. The response varied from abusive, to indifference to genuine support. One couple couldn’t make the night, but insisted I take two quid from them “for our rides we won’t be able to take tonight”. Amazing. The best had to be a passing car – containing three baseball capped blokes. One of them stuck his head out of the window as they passed .

“Oi Mate” he shouted. I braced for a word that needs $%^& or similar in this report. “ Oh I say, Its Pimms O’clock!”. His response captured the atmosphere of what we trying to do that night. It WAS Pimms O’clock, by jove, and let the fun begin!

The evening had been split into two – the sponsored marathon ride taking place between 7 and 10:30, and the ERS (Exclusive Ride Session) following that.

Seven pm rolls up and the ride is looking incredible. There are lights all over it –we can’t see the full effect yet, but I get the feeling its going to look brilliant when its pitch black. The music is blaring – an updated Charleston style number floats over the tarmac as people slowly assemble.

The Scenic Railway station illuminated for the night.

One by one the marathon riders gather – all looking the part. We pause for many photographs (including press), and the “sepia” mode on digital cameras is used perhaps for the first time! It’s a shame there’s no TV presence there as it looks wonderful. BBC South East Today had confirmed they would be there, but had been called out on an urgent story. No bother, as the press we’d had leading up to the event had been excellent. I did three pieces for BBC Radio Kent over the weekend and we had stories going out regularly on Invicta FM all day too.

Some of the riders gather for a "sepia-toned" digital photo!

We finally take our seats and the marathon begins. 200 minutes of continuous riding. This is my first marathon so I am a little anxious, but the Scenic is such a pleasant ride I was looking forward to the multiple rides. The extent of the lighting is clear – they are everywhere! There’s also a bubble machine, and the bubbles are drifting all over the track. The train flies through them, and now and again I catch a soapy taste from a well-aimed one. The riding continues and sun drops. Every ride gets darker and there’s a great atmosphere about the place. After a while Dave C has to bring out the second train – it looks like our advertising has had some effect, as there is a big queue of people waiting for a ride. I think the queue never really did disappear until quite late on. What a great thing to be able to say!

The Scenic Railway: bursting through the bubbles!

And before you know it, it’s our last ride! The time had shot past, and it was time to stop. I get up, stiff and with a sore backside, but okay apart from that. We’d done it – and it was very enjoyable and I could stayed on longer without much problem. What a fab ride it is…

(left to right): Dave Collard, Sarah Vickery and Richard Foster spinning on the Waltzer.

We all shot off and had a quick ride on the waltzer – I made a mistake in riding with Dave Collard. He knew when to lean to get the maximum spin going. Thankfully they weren’t that extreme.

Richard Foster (r) presents a cheque to Dave Collard.

It was a pleasure to be able to present Dave with a huge cheque from the sponsored ride. Amazingly (and this wasn’t a fix) the total came to £1921 pounds – how appropriate! With the money from the ERS that followed, I’m sure we must have raised near the £2500 mark on the night. Dave was a picture – he was pretty stuck for words, but it just reflects the passion that exists to save the ride. The ultimate sign of success has to be the comments from everyone as we left the site at gone midnight – “See you next year, same again?”.

I’d like to offer my thanks to everyone who made the night possible.

Dave Wells, for the lights and his excellent Invicta FM work!
Liz F-K, Mark R and the ECC team (as ever).
Ian Mansfield
Sarah Vickery
And Dave Collard.

I’m sure I’ve missed people out – you know who you are and without your help it wouldn’t have happened – thank you.

Photographs courtesy of Justin Garvanovic (ECC)

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