Monday, 16 November 2009

Dreamland gets the cash! Woooo!

Pic: copyright Nick Laister, Save Dreamland Campaign

No time for a long blog, and the whole story would take some recounting, but just to say that, after all the 'roller coaster ride' (groan) of the long running campaign ('heritage battle'?) to try to save Dreamland, Margate, it was announced at one minute past midnight that the government has awarded 3.7 million pounds to the Dreamland Trust, to begin the work of bringing the historic Dreamland Amusement Park back to life, and hopefully hugely help the revival of Margate, Kent. Like so many historic seaside towns, it is sorely in need of regeneration.  Many thought the closure and building a 'mixed use development' and flats on the site not a great idea...  Some you win...

This means that the Grade II listed Scenic Railway woodie roller coaster (1920), so badly and sadly damaged in an arson attack, can be repaired, the Grade II* Dreamland cinema and organ can be begun to be brought back into productive use, and a start can be made on the plans for the Heritage Amusement Park, incorporating the rescued important historic rides from places such as Southport Pleasureland (grrrr... but another blog another day...) and Rhyl.

Earlier this year the Dreamland Trust was awarded a stage one Heritage Lottery grant, to work up towards a major funding application, and the Princes Regeneration Trust has also been involved, so hopefully, in the not too distant future, a full Lottery application can be made for many more millions. The jigsaw puzzle of 'match funding'  is often a hard one to negotiate, but with this large sum of Sea Change grant aid, that's one huge chunk of jigsaw completed.

I'm a long time committed supporter of the Save Dreamland Campaign, and this morning is the best of news for me, and no doubt so many others.

Nick Laister and the team - thank you for all the hard work, over so long and through so many dark days, dreams can come true!

Thanks too to all at SAVE Britain's Heritage, which has supported this campaign throughout, recognising that 'heritage' is wide and encompasses so much, not simply 'grand' buildings but the quirky too, and maybe the Scenic can be taken off the national Buildings at Risk Register before too long!  It featured as a 'scandal' in last year's Buildings at Risk book, Cherish or Perish,  also.

That fire:

Pathe footage, pre-war:

For my past blogs on this a quick search of the site (see search box in right hand column, under blog archive) Dreamland will bring the posts.

BBC news report:

I shamelessly steal Nick's words from the news page of the Save Dreamland Campaign today:

so much to read on that site!

The latest news from the Save Dreamland Campaign:

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dreamland Margate awarded £3.7m by UK Government

In the most important landmark in the six-year campaign to save Dreamland Margate, the Government has today announced that it has awarded £3.7m to the project. This is the largest grant in the 2009 Sea Change programme, funded by DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport), which is designed to invigorate England’s seaside towns through investment in culture and heritage.

It will allow the Grade II-listed Scenic Railway roller coaster, built in 1920 and the oldest roller coaster in the UK, to be restored to its former glory. As well as securing the long-term future of one of the best-loved seaside structures in the country, the funding will allow the creation of the world’s first amusement park exclusively comprised of thrilling historic rides.

CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) Chief Executive Richard Simmons, who has led the project on behalf of the Government, commenting on the seven coastal resorts that will be receiving a grant, said:

“These seven projects all demonstrate how culture can be a catalyst to recapture the flair that these places enjoyed in their heyday. I especially like the plan to regenerate Dreamland in Margate, and showcase the country’s oldest rollercoaster, a listed scenic railway. It is ambitious projects like this, creating new national attractions, that can rekindle the English love affair with our seaside.”

Dreamland Margate has been awarded the largest grant in the Government's 2009 Sea Change programme, one of only two large grants issued this year.

The Dreamland Margate project is being led by The Dreamland Trust, a not-for-profit company born out of the Save Dreamland Campaign. The £3.7m grant will help to create an exciting theme park from the past on the Dreamland site, giving visitors the chance to enjoy spectacular historic amusement park rides. Many of these have been rescued by The Dreamland Trust from amusement parks across the UK over the past decade and many are the last surviving examples of their type.

The rides will be built around the centrepiece of the park, the Scenic Railway, the oldest surviving roller coaster in the UK and the fourth oldest in the world. Restoration work will also be carried out on the Grade II*-listed Dreamland cinema building, creating a major new visitor attraction of international significance.

Nick Laister, who set up the campaign to save Dreamland and is now chair of The Dreamland Trust, said: "This is fantastic news and is yet another very positive step to delivering this world's first visitor attraction. We are very pleased that CABE and English Heritage share our view, and that of the people of Margate, that this proposal has the ability to create an outstanding, 21st-century attraction at Margate, capitalising on the resort's unique heritage in a way that will make a huge contribution to the regeneration of the town.

“The Scenic Railway roller coaster has not operated since 2006 and was badly damaged by fire following an arson attack last year. This grant should now secure the future of this remarkable structure and allow work to start on rebuilding it next year, along with all the other rides that we have rescued.

“On behalf of the Dreamland Trust, I would like to thank our partners in the bid, and in particular Derek Harding of the Margate Renewal Partnership, Peter Beck and Toby Hunter of Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company and Nick Dermott of Thanet District Council. We simply could not have achieved this without them. I very much look forward to working with them over the coming months as we reinstate Dreamland at the heart of Margate."

Pic: c Nick Laister

Design for the Heritage Amusement Park, Dreamland c Dreamland Trust

More about the future on the new website:


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