Dreamland Margate: Latest News
The Following written by Jonathan Bryant: Dreamland Trust Project Director
The Dreamland project now has its design team virtually in place. Just a few appointments are still to be made and we have a full complement covering project management, quantity surveying, CDM (the safety dimension of design) landscape architect, architect, structural engineer, mechanical & electrical engineer, creative etc. Co-ordinating this work is project manager Gardiner Theobald. Full details of each firm will be provided in the next newsletter.
We are confident we will have the best team for the job and now have to motor hard to hit the end July deadline for finalised designs not just of the park and ride layouts but of the entranceways, new buildings, landscaping, power distribution, sound & lighting, public circulation, refurbishment of part of the Dreamland Cinema and of course restoration of the Scenic Railway.
The story of Dreamland must be brought alive to its future visitors in new and attractive ways and this will be fundamental to the design thinking. Also the way in which the new Dreamland can place host to a whole range of exciting events and activity that will bring people back time and time again...
This From Bob Preedy: (Author of Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History)
Hello from Bob Preedy. I joined the team a couple of weeks ago with the brief to co-ordinate the rides that will eventually grace our Dreamland site. In the 90s I compiled a couple of books on the history of Roller Coasters in the UK - the research for which led me down many utterly fascinating paths. So here I am in a dream job!
It'll be two years before most of the heritage structures will be seen in public but between now and then the present rather unloved amusements will have to undergo a huge refurbishment. First though the rides will have to be brought by road to Kent, stored, X ray-ed, checked and given a schedule of action. Many of the rides are already in the county - having been heroically rescued by Nick Laister and his team of very willing volunteers over the past three years. Others are still to be rescued from storage in defunct amusement parks or packed away for safe keeping by previous owners.
One example is the Corbiere Wheel, built in the mid 50s by a French firm lead by Henri Corbiere. His design was an improvement in the Battersea Funfair structure, manufactured in 1950 up in Leeds. This novel Battersea Big Wheel had the standard rotating chairs, but with a platform which also slowly rotated - giving a 360 degree view of the surroundings. This wheel did however suffer from a major design fault - the huge forces produced by twin motions proved too great for the side supporting structures. Very soon after opening at Battersea major repairs led inevitably to the wheel only operating in the standard mode. Corbiere's improvement was to give the side structures two separate base fastenings each side, thereby spreading the g forces around four equidistant points on the ground circle. The Dreamland Corbiere wheel last operated a few years ago at Pleasureland in Southport and has been carefully stored outside Blackpool by the owner whose proper job is head of Blackpool Illuminations.
Other pieces of the ride jigsaw are also still in Blackpool, Southport, Barry and Porthcawl. Eventually all will be here to await expert renovation. This inevitably will brush up against Health and Safety factors, electrical and metal investigations and then finally a stylish reinterpretation of their heritage by a scenic artist.
My other task is to delve into the history of each ride and produce reports on their development through the decades. Most originated in America but Germany was also a creative centre for ingenious and entertaining ideas. John Henry Iles, the owner and main driving force behind the popularity of Dreamland from the early 20s also had a stake in many overseas parks. Here he would have cast his sharp eye around for novelty - and then imported the fresh idea to Margate. This tradition continued long after the Iles era - remember the Orbiter - designed and built in Erith and premiered at Dreamland in the late summer of 1976. So maybe if you have a novel idea for a new ride - perhaps you could once again put Margate at the forefront of entertaining invention.
Historic rides are still being discovered across the country and we will be investigating the feasibility of adding these to our bulging stock. Who knows what will turn up in the next two years - so that the rides of yesteryear can again be given pride of place at one of the country's best loved amusement parks. If you have information on the whereabouts of classic older rides - please do get in touch - we want what you want for the next new and exciting phase of a reinvented Dreamland.