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Dreamland, Margate Discussion Thread

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I'm sure many of you have already but be sure to check out www.savedreamland.co.uk as there is a lot of photos and information on there about the campaign and the tragic fire.


There is also a photo showing how the end closest to the sea front is still in one piece and from what I've read it is structurally sound. They will never be able to get back this amazing piece of rollercoaster history however the council and the people who own the site are looking to work with the Save Dreamland Campaign and English Heritage to get the ride rebuilt and to open the heritage park (I believe the original date was something like 2009 but I am sure that will be pushed back!)


I am definitely suspicious of the developers who were looking to build on this site, I know that very few were happy with the council deciding that at least half the site had to be devoted to a theme park of some sorts with the Scenic Railway as the center point so I have a sneaky suspicion they might have burnt it down so they could build flats on the whole plot instead of just half of it. But that is just my personal opinion. I just think it is strange how the fire started right at the very heart of the ride where the trains, workshops and lifthill are located so that however well the fire was handled the most vital bits of the ride would already have been damaged.


I used to ride this rollercoaster a lot and I am very sad to see this happen, hopefully she can rise from the ashes!



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Confirmed as arson by the police.

Reports from the site say that it could be rebuilt if the plans can be found for the origonal layout.

A lot of local people are now turning up to pay respects to the great ride that was the Scenic Railway.


Vintage airtime from the backseat with no lapbars or restraints.

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Hi, I don't know someone is delete one of my post about Scenic Railway?


Where the train for scenic railway? I think they are gone?


I am very sad about the 88 years old scenic railway the famous wooden roller coaster.


I was shocked to see picture of destroyed in fire and I miss the old roller coaster very much "sniff"


That is an accident and I'm sorry about post the video from youtube.com



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It's sad to see it burn, one thing I did notice on one of the pictures was the old wild mouse track and cars! not sure why they where there it looks like the old mine ride from Southport.



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Well Nick Laister of the Save Dreamland campaign was very upbeat on the joylandbooks forum today and it looks like he has already been laying a lot of groundwork ready for the rebuilding of the ride.


However, I am very much in agreement with Sarah (another member of the campaign) where she says


"I tell you what, if we'd gone round with a bucket and collected up all the crocodile tears that were being shed outside the main gate I reckon we wouldn't have needed to call in the engines from Herne Bay and Canters.


The air was thick with smoke and hypocrisy."


This does indeed sum up the local apathy towards the Scenic Railway and Dreamland itself. I and many others have contributed funds to the campaign and most of us have been there once maybe twice in our lifetimes. The locals all of a sudden have come out with bold statements and tears of sadness but had these people put their collective weight behind Dreamland 6 years ago when this whole project started this would never have happened and Margate would have a thriving amusement park.

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It's sad to see it burn, one thing I did notice on one of the pictures was the old wild mouse track and cars! not sure why they where there it looks like the old mine ride from Southport.




Nick Laister rescued a few of the Southport rides with a view to turning Dreamland into a Heritage amusement park featuring classic rides of the past. King Soloman's Mines along with the running gear for the ghost train and the running gear for the boat ride had also been rescued. Of special interest for myself and the BlueBuzzards was the fact that he had also rescued "The Mistral Flying Machine" from certain doom. I was so pleased to see one of THE greatest sets of flying scooters in the world saved and was so looking forward to seeing them hopefully running again next year.


For now though it would seem that most of the effort and money will be poured into restoring the Scenic so The Heritage Park could be a long way off right now.

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^ I have also contributed a small amount towards the campaign before the fire and it is sad to think we won't see the heritage park for a few years but if the money can be found to restore the Scenic Railway then I think we will still get to see the Heritage Park in years to come.


I am so glad I got to ride the Scenic Railway so many times over the years, it may not be the highest, fastest, wildest ride in the world but that didn't matter, it was still one of the most fun in my opinion!


It's good to know Nick Laister is being so positive, he's already done so much for Dreamland and the Scenic Railway just by being positive and putting the time and effort into save it so I think he will be able to get the heritage park back off the ground.




EDIT: And if you look at the picture on the front page of the savedreamland site I think that is a very positive image, it shows there is still a large portion of the original ride to work with if they do rebuild it!

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New "Burnt" pictures of SR:




I wonder if the person/s who did this preferred "Steel" coasters to "woodies" and thought wood is 2 old fashioned.


If this picture does not show someone who does "Arson" then what is:


i'm sure with a lottery grant it can be repaired and new trains built.


Bring back Public Hanging.


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Update from Save Dreamland Website:


Police investigating the fire which badly damaged the Scenic Railway have now confirmed it was started deliberately. Samples collected by specialist police and fire officers at the Margate site on Tuesday have been sent off for analysis in the arson investigation. The BBC News website carries a report on the investigations.


Thanet District Council has called for security at Dreamland to be stepped up following the arson attack and the Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel, who called the ride "the single most important piece of the town’s cultural heritage" has said that the Council expects the owners to rebuild the structure as soon as possible. The press release is here.


The full extent of the damage extending to about 25% of the ride's footprint.


Campaign Leader Nick Laister had a telephone conversation with Toby Hunter, Chairman of Dreamland owners the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company Ltd, in which Mr Hunter confirmed that engineering firm Jacobs will be on-site from Monday assessing the damage and advising on the works required to rebuild the ride. Mr Hunter explained that the main difficulty at the moment is the lack of detailed plans.

Nick comments: "I have had discussions with several people involved with the Scenic Railway and other wooden roller coasters today and it is clear that the structural rebuild will be relatively straightforward.


Bear in mind that, on a typical year of maintenance, approximately 15% of the ride would be replaced anyway. And remember this is a ride that was effectively completely rebuilt every seven years when operated by the Bembom Brothers! The station and workshops were not in good condition and would have required virtual rebuilds in any event. The trains are more difficult, but there are other examples elsewhere in the world, and at Great Yarmouth, which could be used as a template for a rebuild."


"The ride has suffered from serious fires before and has rebuilt. This is acknowledged in the ride's listing. It is also acknowledged in the listing that the timber has been replaced repeatedly over the years. It can be rebuilt and little of its historic interest will have been lost.


"For the time being the most important thing is to stop this from becoming another Brighton West Pier, with a series of further arson attacks. Security at the site must be stepped up immediately to protect this now extremely vulnerable listed building."


The Save Dreamland Campaign calls on anybody with information on this crime to contact Crimestoppers. Campaign Secretary, Susan Marsh, says: "As the Police have now announced that the Scenic fire was arson..




Watch this space for a re-birth of the SR.

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Response from the Margate's Local Council:


Calls to rebuild the Scenic Railway


Margate’s historic Scenic Railway can be rebuilt and everything should be done to ensure that happens.


That’s the message from Thanet District Council, after fire broke out in the Grade II listed structure yesterday afternoon (Monday 7 April) for the third time in its history. The Scenic Railway, which is in the famous Dreamland amusement park site on the town’s seafront, was the first amusement park ride to be listed in the country.


The Dreamland site and the Scenic Railway is privately owned and the responsibility for rebuilding the ride lies with the owners.


Planning guidance, developed by the council, working with other organisations including the Margate Renewal Partnership and the Save Dreamland Campaign, sets out that the Scenic Railway should be kept as part of an amusement based destination. This was given strong support by local people, with 92% who took part in the consultation saying that the Scenic Railway should be kept.


Council Leader, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, said: “The fire is a terrible blow for Margate. Many local people hold the Scenic Railway very dearly in their hearts, as our recent consultation showed, and understandably so. It’s perhaps the single most important piece of the town’s cultural heritage and has been a part of Margate for generations. We are determined that, if possible, the Scenic Railway, should be rebuilt as soon as possible and we would expect the owners to do just that. It’s a listed structure and the expectation is that, wherever possible, a listed structure should be rebuilt. Let’s not forget that in the history of the Scenic Railway, it’s been the victim of fire twice before and on both occasions, it’s been re-built. We are hopeful that can happen again this time.


“Our conservation and planning officers have a wealth of technical expertise that can be called upon by the owner if they require it and we would be happy to offer them help and advice. In the first instance, we are calling on the owners of the site to take urgent action to ensure that security at the site is stepped up, in view of what’s happened. I’m sure that local people would agree that it’s vital that this is done to safeguard what is left of the Scenic Railway today.”

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Video Report:




Updated News:


Representatives from English Heritage today visited the Dreamland site to assess the damage to the Scenic Railway. "Based on our visit today, the damage is not as significant as was first presented to us," said Peter Kendall, Team Leader for Kent and East Sussex. "We are categorically of the view that the ride is repairable. We will work with everyone else to achieve that end."


In other related news, at the Planning Committee Meeting on Wednesday 16 April, Thanet District Council officers will be asking members' leave to serve a Repairs Notice under the 1990 (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, to put the Scenic Railway back into operational condition.


This meeting is open to the public. It starts at 7pm at the Council Chamber, Council Offices, Cecil Square, Margate. It is the first item on the agenda so anybody attending must be prompt.


The Police investigation continues and MTCRC's insurers were on-site today inspecting the damage.


Campaign Leader Nick Laister says: "It is now over 48 hours since the sad events of Monday afternoon and we have a much better picture of the extent of the damage and the prospects of repair. I am heartened by the huge response from the people of Margate - and from around the country - who have all expressed their outrage that this much-loved listed building could have been damaged in this way. I am pleased that Dreamland's owners have acted swiftly in getting people onto the site to assess the damage, and I have personally told Toby Hunter that we will do everything we can to help him with the task of restoring the ride, although no decision has yet been made by MTCRC."


"I have spent the last couple of days contacting as many people in the industry as possible to satisfy myself that the skills and expertise are available to rebuild the Scenic Railway. It is clear to me that repairing the damage may not be as arduous a task as we first thought. Several people who know the Scenic Railway well, and who have maintained the ride over the years, have told me that they are willing and able to get involved with the restoration.


In addition, Blackpool Pleasure Beach have confirmed that they would be available to project manage the restoration, from design right through to operation, using their team of wooden roller coaster experts. The Pleasure Beach team rebuilt a fire-damaged wooden coaster at the park in 2004, built several replica wooden coasters as far away as Mexico and India, and of course maintains the large number of historic roller coasters at the huge Lancashire amusement park. With all the hundreds of photographs that are also available, significant expertise at the Council (and a privately-owned scale model of the ride!), I am convinced that a rebuild is possible and achievable."

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

The owners of Dreamland in Margate have been served with an urgent works notice insisting they erect a fence to protect the fire-damaged Grade II listed Scenic Railway until it is fully repaired.


The notice was served on the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company by Thanet District Council and requires them to put up a continuous 2.4 metre high steel fence around the entirety of the listed ride, the oldest of its type in the country and third oldest in the world.


If the fence is not up by next Monday (August 11) then the council will, using planning powers, send contractors to the amusement park to erect the fence. The council will then recover the cost of this work from MTCRC.


The move follows the fire, which broke out in early April, destroying approximately 30 per cent of the railway's tracks, the workshop where the cars were housed and part of the station. The ride, built in 1920, was the first amusement park ride to be Grade II listed in 2002.


Sarah Vickery of the Save Dreamland Campaign said: "Anything which ensures the Scenic Railway is properly protected has to be welcomed."


Photo'd sometime last week

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  • 4 months later...

Clearance of the fire-damaged parts of the Scenic Railway will commence soon.

Nick Dermott of Thanet District Council met with Peter Beck of MTCRC, together with representatives of Downfast Demolition and Bob Williamson of Jacobs Manchester (representing MTCRC), at the Scenic Railway yesterday morning. The object of meeting was to agree the extent of the 'emergency' demolitions and clearance after the fire. Nick told the Save Dreamland campaign:


"What was agreed was as follows: -


- The four burnt 'ends' of the ride would be cut back to the first non-charred frame in each instance, ie about 3 charred frames would be removed in each case. Before any demolition took place, the burnt parts would be photographed and heights, measured with a laser level, marked on the photographs to the approval of TDC. Any pulleys etc in these areas would also be photographed and measured and then stored.


- The most damaged parts of the station platform and roof - at the northern end - would be removed after being photographed. The switch track to the former workshop would be left in-situ.


- The charred debris in the centre would be sifted through. All pieces that are evidence, wheels, pulleys etc would be shown to English Heritage and placed in agreed secure storage. Ditto signage. The rest, together with the blockwork asbestos clad and roofed shed would be cleared away."


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  • 5 months later...

I can't begin to tell you how upset I was when I heard the news about that fire. I couldn't believe it. We went to the UK three times between 2002 and 2005 and on each trip, a ride on the Scenic was one of the highlights of our trip. Even though Dreamland was in a pretty sad state, especially on the 2003 and 2005 trip.

Does anyone have any news from Margate?

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  • 5 months later...

It seems there is hope for Margate's Dreamland amusement park after all as the government has decided to step in and help fund a restoration of the park, including a rebuilding of the Scenic Railway.


Amusement park gets £3.7m grant


Restoration of the Scenic Railway ride, built in 1920, is central to a scheme to save Margate's Dreamland amusement park in Kent.

The resort has received the largest grant out of seven made in the government's 2009 Sea Change programme.

The Dreamland Trust plans to open an amusement park based on vintage rides.

Many of the rides are in storage, after the trust rescued them from across the UK over the past decade.

Oldest survivor

The Sea Change programme aims to regenerate rundown coastal resorts through culture and heritage.

"It is projects like this, creating new national attractions, that can rekindle the English love affair with our seaside," said Richard Simmons, chief executive of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Dreamland's Scenic Railway is the oldest surviving rollercoaster in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world.

It has been shut since 2006 and was badly damaged in an the arson attack last year.

Restoration of the railway and other historic rides will be carried out alongside that of the Grade II listed Dreamland cinema building.

"This is fantastic news and is yet another very positive step to delivering this 'world's first' visitor attraction," said chair of the Dreamland Trust, Nick Laister.

"This proposal has the ability to create an outstanding, 21st Century attraction at Margate, capitalising on the resort's unique heritage."


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This is great news, and hopefully the park does get rebuilt. I knew the park struggled, and I figured that after the fire, the land would be redeveloped. Hopefully the "new" park does end up getting built, although, I'm not sure how they will be able to restore the coaster since it looks like a total loss to me. The only thing I can see is that the coaster is rebuilt using some of the wood from the old coaster.


I'm still skeptical since it seemed like Save Dreamland projects were around before the fire and nothing happened. I'll still wait for construction to start before I believe it though.

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Just as a refresher the proposed Dreamland Heritage Park would include classic rides salvaged or donated from various British parks such as, Southport Pleasureland, Ocean Beach Fun Fair at Rhyl and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.


More on the project can be found here: Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park

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