Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History
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Why have roller coasters remained the most popular amusement park ride since their invention over a century ago? Is it our love of speed, bravado, primeval fear or simply a reaction against our organised way of life?

This quest for thrills has been gathering pace ever since the Russian Ice Slide of 1750. European pioneers took this a stage further when a simple wheeled coaster opened in Paris around 1804. This was Les Montagnes Russes (Russian Mountains). Paris could rightly be called the birthplace of the modern coaster.

What is particularly interesting about this ride is that after an accident the popularity of the coaster actually increased!

But it was the Americans who took the idea and sold it around the world.

While cowboys were still taming the west, inventors in the east around New York were perfecting switchbacks (1884), Figure Eights (1886) and Scenic Railways from 1887. La Marcus Thompson wasn't the originator, but he can certainly take the credit for marketing each successive invention.

Here in Britain switchbacks arrived within months of being premiered at Coney Island. The very first was at Skegness in the spring of 1885.

A forerunner of Blackpool Pleasure Beach's "Revolution" appeared at Crystal Palace in 1902. This was the Loop the Loop which had more people watching it than actually paying to ride.

Old ideas continue to be reinvented. The "Avalanche" at Blackpool has its origins in the Flying Turns, a John Miller/Norman Bartlett ride of 1929. And a twin-track coaster appeared at the 1924 Wembley Exhibition, predating  Blackpool's "Grand National" by ten years.

The amusement parks featured in this book include:

  • Barry Island Pleasure Park

  • Battersea Fun Fair

  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach

  • Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

  • Belle Vue, Manchester

  • Deamland, Margate

  • Morecambe Pleasure Park

  • The Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea

Author Robert Preedy first became fascinated by coasters during a visit to Southport. Twenty years after that visit, this book presents the story so far. Further research has uncovered more facts, and these are presented in the second book by Robert Preedy on the subject of roller coasters, Roller Coasters: Shake, Rattle and Roll. Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History represents the first detailed telling of the story of these wooden rides.


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