It’s taken 12 years and £18 million, but it’s finally back open for business! What are we talking about? Margate’s Dreamland Amusement Park of course!
Crowds flocked to the seaside funland which includes more than 17 restored vintage rides, a roller disco, pleasure gardens, restaurants, arcades and amusements – all harking back to a golden age of the British seaside.
Who’s been campaigning for Dreamland’s reawakening?
Hundreds of campaigners, including some cast members of the BBC hit comedy Only Fools And Horses, have backed the revival.
The park featured in the Only Fools And Horses’ 1989 Christmas special when Del Boy and Rodney took their friends on a day out to Dreamland.
John Challis, who played dodgy car dealer Boycie in the long-running television comedy series, was among those who got behind Dreamland’s campaign.
But where’s the Scenic Railway?
Sadly the centrepiece of the seafront park – the Grade II*-listed, timber-framed Scenic Railway – was not ready in time for the reopening because of continuing restoration to its trains.
Regarded as one of the oldest rollercoasters of its kind left in the world, it was seriously damaged in an arson attack in 2008 after being shut some two years earlier.
During the Scenic Railway’s golden era, its wooden trains carried 28 passengers and a driver on a three-minute, one kilometre ride, reaching heights of up to 41ft (12.5m).
All part of the Margate renaissance?
The revived Dreamland is the second major attraction to recently open in Margate, after the popular £17 million Turner Contemporary art gallery opened in 2011.
“Margate is a resort that is finding its way back into the hearts of people up and down the country. It is an exciting place to be,” said Nick Laister, chairman of the Dreamland Trust.
Today marked the opening of the first of four phases for Dreamland, with phase two set to include the opening of the ballroom, outdoor event space and dance studio later this year.
More than 200 jobs are being created through the first phase of the project, which secured several million pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.