Saturday, 7 March 2009

Dreaming of Dreamland

Fire engulfing the Grade II Listed Scenic Railway, Dreamland, Margate, following an arson attack in 2008 (pic courtesy Nick Evans/Save Dreamland Campaign).

More good news from the Save Dreamland Campaign website, updated yesterday evening.

Read it, and a great deal more besides (even a mention of the Republic) here:

Friday, 6 March 2009
'I Dream of Dreamland' event - more details
We are formally unveiling our plans for the brand new Dreamland Amusement Park at a special public event on the evening of Sunday 15th March at the West Coast Bar, King Street, Margate. The layout plans and images have been assembled over the past few months by a team led by The Dreamland Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign, site owners the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company and the Margate Renewal Partnership. Sunday will be the first time these plans have been seen in public. In addition to unveiling the plans, we will be presenting old footage of Dreamland and the Scenic Railway through the years, playing a seriously good Dreamland soundtrack and having an all-round fantastic time. The Dreamland of tomorrow will echo the thrilling theme parks of the past, and this is your chance to climb on board, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!

(click pic to enlarge, courtesy Save Dreamland Campaign)

Please do pass on details of the event to all, and get along if you can make it.

That's following the news last week:

Saturday, 28 February 2009
Dreamland meeting in royal residence
Susan Marsh and Nick Laister of The Dreamland Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign were again in London yesterday for meetings at the offices of The Princes Trust in Clarence House, the Prince of Wales's official residence. The first meeting, which started at 10am, covered some of the business discussions that have to take place between The Dreamland Trust, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (the owners of Dreamland) and Thanet District Council. The discussions were facilitated by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Thursday, 5 March 2009
Urban Panel comes to Dreamland
The last two days have seen some of the most intensive meetings so far in the bid to bring an exciting new 21st Century tourist attraction to Margate's Dreamland. On Wednesday 4 March, the Government's Urban Panel visited Margate. The Urban Panel brings together the expertise of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and English Heritage to help Local Authorities, development agencies and others to engage in major regeneration of historic towns and cities. Nick Laister and Sarah Vickery represented The Dreamland Trust at a special evening dinner with the Urban Panel at No6 Brasserie in Margate. Also in attendance at the dinner were Richard Simmons (Chief Executive of CABE), Les Sparks OBE (Chair of Urban Panel), Dr Andrew Brown (Regional Director, English Heritage) and Cllr Sandy Ezekiel (Leader, Thanet District Council).

That same evening, Susan Marsh was busy representing the Dreamland Trust at a meeting of the Margate Round Table, at which she gave a presentation on the work of the Trust/Save Dreamland Campaign.

On the morning of Thursday 5 March, Nick Laister attended the Urban Panel's site visit to Dreamland. Nick presented the Trust's vision for the site and answered questions from Panel members. He then joined Susan Marsh and Sarah Vickery for a Meeting of the Trustees of the Dreamland Trust at the Walpole Bay Hotel in Cliftonville.

At midday, the Dreamland Client Group (The Dreamland Trust, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, Margate Renewal Partnership) and their advisers (The Prince's Regeneration Trust, Levitt Bernstein Architects, Locum Consulting) presented their proposals for a Heritage Amusement Park at Dreamland to the Board of the Margate Renewal Partnership (MRP) at the Margate Media Centre. The support of the Board is essential if the project is to be delivered, as it requires 'buy-in' from the key stakeholders in the town and south east region.

Roland Jeffery of the Prince's Regeneration Trust opened the presentation and he was followed by Nick Laister, who set out the Dreamland Trust's vision for a "thrilling theme park from the past", with a slideshow showing why the proposal will be a unique visitor attraction of international importance. Nick was followed by short presentations on the business plan from David Geddes of Locum Consulting and the masterplan/architectural designs by Mark Lewis of Levitt Bernstein Architects. The MRP Board is chaired by Pam Alexander (Chief Executive of SEEDA). Other Board members present included Victoria Pomery (Project Director, Turner Contemporary); Dr Andrew Brown (Planning & Development Director for South East, English Heritage) and Richard Samuel (Chief Executive, Thanet District Council).

The Board presentation was followed by a meeting of the Dreamland Client Group, at which further work was carried out on the amusement park proposals and further planning of the big public launch event of the Dreamland Heritage Amusement Park in Margate on Sunday 15 March at 7.30pm. The Trust hopes to see a big turnout for what is expected to be a lively evening...

It's difficult to believe that it's not even a year since the fire which devastated the Grade II Listed Scenic Railway, Britain's oldest surviving roller coaster:

Monday, 7 April 2008
This afternoon came the news that most members of this Campaign hoped we would never hear. A fire has partially destroyed the Scenic Railway at Dreamland, the UK's oldest roller coaster and a Grade II listed building.
Approximately 25% of the structure (the main lift hill and much of the central part of the ride) has been lost, and so has the workshop, which housed all the original trains...(Save Dreamland Campaign news site, April 2008)

an event which could have seen the end of dreams of reviving Dreamland as a Heritage Amusement Park, against all the odds following its closure and site clearance. The Scenic was left alone, alongside the Grade II* Dreamland cinema, (a significant part of cinema heritage, with its organ intact) deteriorating through standing empty. So far, the arsonist has not been caught. Rumours of course abound, the site owner has not been the most lucky of people where fires are concerned at other properties either, but so far the police seem to have drawn a blank.

Remember too all the campaigning and work has been done voluntarily by those with a passionate belief that, despite the horrors of the demolition of Cyclone 'woodie' coaster at Pleasureland, Southport, (not aided by English Heritage and the DCMS, who messed up badly) the closure of that historic park following a desperate last-minute campaign to save it and the remaining historic attractions on site, and the ongoing uncertainty about what is happening to historic rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, amusement parks and rides are an important part of our history and heritage and should be valued as such.

The Dreamland Trust is still in need of donations to help the campaign, so please do consider sending a bit of cash, no matter how small all donations will, I know, be welcome.

For anyone with a wider interest, do look too at the many splendid publications (and a great deal of information too) available on the excellent Joyland site:

Sometimes, all the work and worry and heartache of campaigning to save parts of our heritage, despite the knocks, setbacks and at times official b*lls up and indifference, has a result. I fervently hope and believe that, in the end, Dreamland will re-open and be once again a great place to spend leisure time, and additionally aid the revival of Margate, a town not without problems but also with solutions to be found. The Turner Gallery is all very well, but it can't do it alone. Heritage led regeneration needs to take place alongside renewal and the new.

Never give up.