May 20, 2003
Margate, United Kingdom -- The Save Dreamland Campaign and the Scenic Railway Trust are pleased to jointly announce that the 83-year-old Scenic Railway roller coaster at Margate's Dreamland Pleasure Park will open to the public on Saturday, May 24, 2003 for what could be its last summer season.
Built in 1920, the Scenic Railway is the oldest operating roller coaster in the United Kingdom and is the first and only amusement ride to be awarded listed building status.
Its future is now under threat as the owner of Dreamland has announced that the park is to close and be redeveloped as shops, casino and hotel.
Dreamland opened for the 2003 season on 12 April, under the auspices of leading showman David Wallis, who has revamped the park and added some exciting new rides. But the park's central attraction, and one of Margate's most famous symbols, the Scenic Railway had until now remained closed.
The Scenic Railway Trust was set up earlier this year to repair the ride and operate it for the 2003 season, with a view to ensuring its long-term survival. The man behind the Trust, Colin Kiddell, says:
"I am delighted that the Scenic Railway is to finally open. It has taken a huge amount of investment and a lot of work to reopen the ride, but we are sure it going to be a huge success. The Trust is currently a limited company, but we are working towards securing charitable status, which we hope will enable us to ensure the long-term survival of this important part of Margate's history."
The announcement of Dreamland's impending closure in January 2003 resulted in the formation of the Save Dreamland Campaign, an organisation that speaks for over 13,000 people. Membership includes local residents and business, Margate's visitors and organisations such as the Margate Civic Society, the Margate Hotel and Guest House Association, the European Coaster Club and the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain. Campaign Leader, Nick Laister, says:
"We would like to congratulate Mr Kiddell and his colleagues on their hard work in bringing this fantastic historical ride back into action. We hope this is the first step in a bright future for the ride and the park. Over the last few weeks, we have been working closely with one of the world's leading theme park operators on exciting proposals for the Dreamland site, which should see the site become one of the south of England's major tourist destinations. We are confident that the Scenic Railway can form the centrepiece of a revitalised Dreamland site."
The history of the Scenic Railway is being celebrated in a special event at Margate's historic Theatre Royal on June 1. This event will see the screening of several rare films showing Dreamland from the 1920s right through to the present day, including very rare footage of the Scenic Railway. There will also be talks from various speakers on the history of Dreamland, the Scenic Railway and the Save Dreamland Campaign.
To find out more about the Save Dreamland Campaign visit the campaign's website at savedreamland.co.uk.