November 3, 2003
Baildon, West Yorkshire, UK -- Britain's oldest surviving amusement park ride, the 'Aerial Glide' at Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds, Baildon, West Yorkshire, has become a Grade II listed building after an emergency application by local campaigner, Mike Short, and amusement park historian, Nick Laister. This is only the second time an amusement park ride has been listed.
Set into a hillside fringing the moors above the World Heritage site of Saltaire village, the 'Aerial Glide' is one of two surviving Victorian attractions that once brought Bradford mill-workers by the thousand to spend their Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the local beauty spot of Shipley Glen. The other survivor is the nearby famous Shipley Glen Tramway, the oldest surviving cable railway (excluding cliff lifts) in the country.
Local campaigners had been fighting to save the pleasure grounds for over a year after the owner, Mr Paul Teale, had submitted an outline planning application to redevelop the site for housing. The strength of local opposition had meant that the planning application had been deferred but, following strong local rumour last week, campaigners feared that the 'Aerial Glide', which was built in 1900, might be about to be demolished.
Mike Short, who lives opposite the Pleasure Grounds, sought the help of Nick Laister, an Oxfordshire based chartered town planner and amusement park historian, who had been responsible in 2002 for securing the listing of the wooden Scenic Railway roller coaster at Dreamland, Margate.
Within a couple of days Mr Short and Mr Laister had prepared a detailed case for emergency listing and sent it to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and to English Heritage but became worried when it became caught up in the postal dispute in London. It eventually arrived on Thursday last week (30 October 2003) and by the following day the 'Aerial Glide' was a listed building.
Nick Laister said, "I am very pleased that the DCMS and English Heritage have accepted our recommendations and listed this hugely important part of Britain's amusement park history. The Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds is a charming local tourist spot and a well-visited recreational resource. The fact that the site also includes Britain's oldest surviving amusement park ride makes it all the more important to ensure that its heritage remains intact."
"I hope that this listing helps to ensure that the ride can continue to entertain families for many years to come and ultimately saves this popular little park."
Mike Short added, "I am overjoyed at what is a tremendous victory but this is only the first hurdle we have to overcome. We have to make sure that the ride is properly maintained and secure the long-term future of the Pleasure Grounds. Three generations of my family have ridden on the 'Aerial Glide' and I want to make sure that it is around for generations of children to come."
Constructed in about 1900 entirely of steel, riders on the 'Aerial Glide' sit in individual chairs suspended from an elevated rectangular-shaped track and descend under the force of gravity to the bottom. The rider alights and walks back to the top; cars are then hoisted back to the station.