by Dave Page
: From thegalloper.com, September 2001

Fortunately things have not always been like this at Barry as the park has quite a bit of interesting history behind it. In 1903 a small fairground opened at Barry Island, at the eastern end of the beach. This had swing boats, chair-o-planes and small roundabouts, but the council put a stop to this in 1909, and required the beach to be formally leased.

The first major ride at Barry Island was the Switchback Railway at the western end of the Promenade. This opened in 1897 and was a rebuild of the switchback from the Cardiff Exhibition of 1896.

In 1912, a much larger Figure Eight roller coaster opened on the site of the present Pleasure Park, and this took most of the business away from the Switchback. The Switchback only managed another two years; it finally closed in 1914.

When the Promenade was built in 1923, the Council moved the fairground from the beach into a permanent site adjacent to the Figure Eight. White Bros, who had the beach lease, therefore were the first tenants of the Pleasure Park, and remained there from 1923 to 1929.

When White Bros tried to renew the lease in 1930, they found that Pat Collins had outbid them. This was in response to White Bros outbidding Collins at the Evesham Pleasure Park. Just to rub salt into the wounds, Collins actually named the Barry Island park
'Evesham Pleasure Park'.

White Bros moved across the road to a new site, which they named Cosy Corner.

The Figure Eight coaster was demolished in 1939 and replaced by the giant Scenic Railway (a rebuild of the Scenic Railway from the 1938 Glasgow Empire Exhibition).

In the 1950s Pat Collins' brother, John, took over and ran the fairground until 1966, when it was taken over by John's sons John Jnr and Pat Jnr. In 1969 the brothers finally purchased the freehold of the park.

In 1973, the Scenic Railway was demolished and was not replaced until 1980, when the present Log Flume was built, although some of the timber from the Scenic was used in the Wacky Goldmine ride (now the Haunted Mine).

In the 1990s, the park was sold to supermarket operator Ken Rogers (the owner of the Hyper Value chain). He invested in the park in the late 1990s, completely refurbishing and remodelling it. Rogers sadly died in 2000, and the park is now run by his family.

White's Cosy Corner finally closed in 1999, after the remaining parts of the site were seriously damaged by vandals. Cosy Corner had been the home to one of the two 1937 Coronation Arks (which luckily has been tucked away by one of England's best known independent Showmen).

Things are different now of course. I've banged on before about the decline of the coastal cousin of the travelling fair, but despite recent investment this park really takes the biscuit. And to think people on holiday spend their hard-earned money taking their kids to a place like this!

Not wishing to rush into judgement I bit my tongue until we'd left, but when I asked the other half (who invariably has the misfortune of trudging around these places with me) what she thought the reply was about as unambiguous as you can get: "It was the worst I've ever seen." And this from someone brought up in Southport!


Figure Eight roller coaster, which opened at Barry Island in 1912. Picture: Nick Laister Collection

Barry Island Pleasure Park, dominated by the 1939 Scenic Railway. The helter skelter just visible behind is at White's Cosy Corner. Picture: Nick Laister Collection

Barry Island Pleasure Park shortly after its late 1990s revamp by Ken Rogers. Picture: Nick Laister Collection


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