This Page is an Archive of all news items featured on the Joyland Books News Page between 1 January and 30 June 2003.
For the latest news, click here.

Rare Books Added to Secondhand Shop [22/6/03]

A bumper crop of secondhand books have been added to the Joyland Books Secondhand Shop today. Heading up the new additions is The World of Donald McGill, the story of the king of saucy postcards. Those interested in the seaside will also want to snap up a copy of the extremely rare Butlin Holiday Book from 1947, the first of what was to become a series but ended up being a one-off. Two out-of-print books on piers have been added: British Piers is a photographic journey through pier history and Seaside Piers is a comprehensive tome. We have reduced the price of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach photograph book: Through the Camera of Lichfield. And with newly added books on circus, showmen, fairground organs and traction engines, there is something for everyone. Click here for the Secondhand Shop.

Cause of Thorpe Park Crash Revealed [22/6/03]

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Tussauds Theme Parks has pleaded guilty to failing to discharge its duty of health and safety following an accident at Thorpe Park, Chertsey, Surrey, in October 2001. The report states that "two teenagers were in a gondola on the Zodiac ride when it detached at one end, bumped along the ground ripping its floor away, and hit a fence close to queueing visitors." Both teenagers were taken to hospital with whiplash injuries. The court was told that bolts supplied by German manufacturer Huss should have been installed but were in short supply so, rather than close the ride, bolts were acquired from another source that were of the wrong type. Tussauds admitted failing to properly maintain the ride, but two park managers, who were charged with the same offence as Tussauds, have pleaded not guilty. Sentencing has been adjourned.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Hotel Opens [14/6/03]

The Big Blue Hotel at Blackpool Pleasure Beach successfully opened for business this weekend. Work on the £4.5m, 4-storey hotel started in October last year and was completed ahead of schedule. The 116-room hotel is the first to be built in Blackpool for over 20 years, and reflects the confidence the resort's biggest tourist attraction has in the town's future. Many of the rooms overlook the park, and  facilities at the hotel include business and conference centre, fully equipped gym and treatment room and a brasserie-style restaurant with bar, adding to the already impressive array of world-class facilities at the Pleasure Beach. Europe's first water park hotel has also recently opened at Alton Towers; Splash Landings has 216 bedrooms, restaurant, bar and Cariba Creek waterpark.  Further major investment - in both rides and complementary attractions - is planned at Blackpool Pleasure Beach over the next few years, creating the UK's premier self-contained amusement park resort.

Fairground Art Now in Stock! [14/6/03]

Fairground Art, the definitive fairground book, has been re-released and is now in stock. This classic book is probably the most famous fairground book of all time, and since its original release in 1981 has become highly collectable. It contains in-depth information and profuse illustrations and photographs of fairground carvings and artwork. The book has now been re-released in paperback. Books have already been dispatched to all customers who pre-ordered copies. Click here for more details.

OBE for Blackpool Pleasure Beach Chairman [13/6/03]

Mrs Lilian Doris Thompson, MBE, the 100-year-old Chairman of Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Britain's most visited amusement park), has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. Her award is for services to the community in Blackpool. Mrs Thompson, one of the most respected amusement park industry figures in the world, is pictured to the right at her recent birthday celebrations. Click here to discuss Blackpool Pleasure Beach in our Forum.

Loudoun Castle is Scotland's Best [7/6/03]

The Joyland Books award for Britain's most improved theme park goes to Loudoun Castle in Scotland. Located just 18 miles south of Glasgow, the theme park is set around the imposing ruins of this historic building and is one of Scotland's best kept secrets. Until last year, the theme park was owned by the Codona fairground family, and resembled more of a travelling fairground than a theme park. But now, big changes are happening.
New: Twist n' Shout looping coaster

New: Pony Track ride at Dougal McDougal's Farm
Earlier this year, the park was taken over by Henk Bembom (previously the owner of Margate's Dreamland, and with interests in a number of UK theme parks), one of the most respected theme park operators in Europe. Although some of the better existing attractions have been retained, there has already been a big investment in new rides and attractions. One of the biggest new rides is the Schwarzkopf Twist n' Shout looping roller coaster (pictured above), which joins the park's two existing coasters.
Demonstrating the move away from fairground to theme park, a new area for the children has been introduced, called Dougal McDougal's Farm, which includes two brand new, permanent themed attractions: a tractor ride and a pony track (pictured above, construction almost complete). The entire park is getting a makeover, and existing attractions such as the Log Flume (right) are getting new stations and theming. The changes are impressive given the short space of time that the park has been under Bembom ownership and plans are already being drawn up to partially enclose the park's existing Viper roller coaster, to create a large dark ride. The park is open now so you can see the changes for yourself: more details from
New station for an old favourite: Loggers Leap log flume

Click here to discuss Loudoun Castle in our Theme Parks Forum

Alton Towers Wooden Roller Coaster Withdrawn [7/6/03]

Alton Towers has withdrawn its planning application for a massive new wooden roller coaster after local concerns about the ride's impact on the Churnet Valley. The main issues of concern were the felling of trees, noise and the precedent that it might set for rides extending into the valley. Bosses at Alton Towers are now revising the plans to take the concerns into account, and the plans will be resubmitted this summer. If it receives planning permission, the ride is expected to open in 2005.

Camelot Theme Park to Close [28/5/03]

The owners of Camelot Theme Park in Lancashire have announced that the park is facing a crisis over its long-term future. Over recent years, the park has suffered a big drop in visitor numbers, losing £6m since Prime Resorts Ltd acquired the park from Granada. The owners claim that this is despite investment in new rides and attractions. The owners have stated that the park will close within five years unless action can be taken to save it. The park is now looking at long-term plans for the redevelopment of the site, which is likely to include housing and year-round employment, and proposals have already been presented to Lancashire County Council. 

Click here to discuss this news in our Forum

Online Exhibition of Kursaal History Opens [19/5/03]

A brand new online exhibition of vintage amusement park photographs has opened today in the Joyland Books Exhibition Hall. The exhibition takes visitors on a tour of the famous Kursaal Amusement Park at Southend-on-Sea, from its early years in the late 19th Century, to its gradual closure in the 1970s, through to the reopening of the Kursaal buildings in the 1990s. The Exhibition is based on the new book, Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park by top local author Ken Crowe, and features a selection of the many photographs that can be found in the publication. The exhibition runs until 31st July 2003. Click here to go straight to the Exhibition Hall.

If you enjoy the Exhibition then why not buy Kursaal Memories here at Joyland Books and discover many more pictures plus the fascinating story of one of the world's first theme parks.

Kursaal Amusement Park, Southend-on-Sea

New UK Coaster to Open in June [17/5/03]

A new £300,000 roller coaster is to open at Isle of Wight theme park Blackgang Chine on 20 June. The ride, described by the park's owner as "a pink-knuckle ride", will be launched at a special VIP party for 160 invited guests. The ride will open to the public on 21 June, with characters from Blackgang's past.

Chessington Expansion Announced [16/5/03]

The Tussaud's Group has announced plans to expand Chessington World of Adventures, in what is described as a move away from being a 'ride park' to a 'family resort destination'. The plans are designed to turn around the fortunes of the park, which has seen visitor numbers fall from 1.7 million to 1.2 million in recent years. The proposals include the creation of a safari trail, with larger animal enclosures than at present; a 150-bed safari-themed hotel; a 4D cinema; a flying island which will give panoramic views; a 1,200-seat covered show area; a spinning roller coaster; a beach area; and a water complex. The plans, which will take seven years to complete, will see the park focus on family visitors instead of its traditional teenage market.

Dreamland Scenic Railway to open 24 May [16/5/03]

The 83-year-old Scenic Railway roller coaster at Margate’s Dreamland Pleasure Park will open to the public on Saturday 24 May 2003 for what could be its last ever summer season. Built in 1920, the Scenic Railway is the oldest operating roller coaster in the United Kingdom and is the first and only amusement ride to be awarded listed building status. Its future is now under threat as the owner of Dreamland has announced that the park is to close and be redeveloped as a supermarket, shops and a casino. For the 2003 season, the ride will be operated by the Scenic Railway Trust Ltd, an organisation set up with the intention of preserving the ride's long-term future. Meanwhile the Save Dreamland Campaign - set up to fight for the survival of the park and its famous wooden roller coaster - is gearing up for its big Convention day on 1 June. The event, open to members and non-members, is being held at Margate's Theatre Royal and will be a celebration of Dreamland's glorious past, including the showing of several rare films of the park through the years and talks from various leading speakers. Click here for more details and information on how to buy tickets.
Above: The Scenic Railway in action (2002)

Click here for the Save Dreamland Forum

Kursaal Book Launch Becomes Kursaal Reunion [26/4/03]

The press launch of the long-awaited history of Southend's Kursaal amusement park became a reunion of Kursaal names past and present. The event was held on 17th April 2003 at the Kursaal itself, now the town's leading leisure complex. Underneath the famous dome, author Ken Crowe presented a slideshow of Kursaal photographs, before signing copies of his new book. The evening, which was introduced by Southend Mayor Alan Crystall, was attended by many famous faces from Kursaal's past, including band leaders, ride operators and members of 60s rock groups which performed at the legendary venue. There was also an exhibition of Kursaal photographs. Click here for a photo gallery of the launch party.
Above: Ken Crowe interviewed by the BBC at the press launch.

Click here for details of the new book.

Alton Coaster Plans Receive Officer Objections [21/4/03]

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's Trees and Woodlands Officer, Steve Massey, has objected to plans for a massive wooden roller coaster at Alton Towers. Mr Massey states in his report to the planning officer that the proposed development would have a "significant" adverse impact on the ancient woodland, wildlife species and habitat as well as an unacceptable visual impact on the wider landscape. The proposed ride would be the first to be located in the valley, part of a Grade I site of biological importance, and would require the removal of 146 trees, although theme park bosses claim that most of the trees would need to be removed anyway as part of the estate's woodland management plan. The plans have also been opposed by local residents, although roller coaster enthusiasts have mounted a letter-writing campaign in support of the proposals. The report of planning officer Neil Watson is still awaited, and it is not known yet whether he will recommend approval or refusal. The final decision will be made by councillors later this month.

Major Thrill Ride Arrives at Hayling Island [15/4/03]

Marshall and John Hill who operate Funland Amusement Park at Hayling Island have now taken delivery of their new KMG Freak Out ride, a compact version of the Dutch builder's popular Afterburner ride. It is the first in the UK, with several more due for travelling showmen soon. Planning permission was refused for a giant drop tower ride at the park earlier this year. Click on the photograph for a larger image of the new ride. (Courtesy: Martin Cooper)

Discuss this new ride in our Forum. 

Step Back in Time With Joyland Books [13/4/03]

Find out about America's glorious amusement park and carnival (travelling fair) history in two new books available now from Joyland Books. Carousel Animals looks at the artistry of the master carvers who created the famous merry-go-round horses of the American carousel. This hardback, glossy book takes you on a journey through carousel history and meets the people who created these works of art. Inside the Live Reptile Tent is a collection of stunning colour photographs of American carnivals and amusement parks. Enter a fascinating and atmospheric world of wooden roller coasters, dodgem cars and faded signs. 

New Fairground Videos Available Now [13/4/03]

Three new fairground videos have been added to Joyland Books. Banbury Fair 2002 is the latest video of this ancient street fair. Hull Fair 2002 is a video of what is claimed to be Europe's largest travelling fair. Fun Fairs on the Move 2002 Vol. 3 shows the pull-on for Nottingham's huge Goose Fair. For more fairground videos, click here.

Click here to discuss travelling fairs in our new forum.

Kursaal Memories Out Now! [9/4/03]

Available from today is probably the most eagerly-awaited amusement park book of the decade. Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park is the first ever book written about this legendary fun spot, which was the south of England's largest amusement park. Written by leading local author Ken Crowe, this book features no less than 160 photographs of the Kursaal's famous attractions, including the Cyclone roller coaster, Water Chute and famous ballroom. This book is in stock and ready to be dispatched immediately.

Click here for more details.

New Drop Tower for Woodlands Park [2/4/03]

Woodlands Leisure Park near Totnes in Devon is opening a major new ride for the 2003 season, a 50-foot high drop tower called Trauma Tower. This ride joins the other attractions at the park, including the Cyclone Watercoasters and the 500m long Tornado toboggan ride. Summer 2003 also sees the opening of the second park from the Bendall family, Twinlakes Park at Melton Mowbray.

Fairground Festival 2003 Announced for Swindon [2/4/03]

A major fairground conference has been announced for Summer 2003, to be held at Swindon (UK). A varied agenda will see speakers talking about subjects such as ride design and transport, artwork, sideshows and fairground history. Click here for details.

Save Dreamland Convention Moved [23/3/03]

The Save Dreamland Convention, planned for Saturday 19th April 2003, has been moved to the new date of 1st June 2003. The Convention is to be held at Margate's historic Theatre Royal and will celebrate 83 years of Dreamland and its historic, Grade II listed, Scenic Railway roller coaster. The Save Dreamland Campaign now speaks on behalf of 13,000 people and organisations who want to see the park and its main attraction retained. Click here for the Campaign website and for information on how to buy tickets to the event.

Blackpool and Pleasure Beach to be reborn [23/3/03]

Blackpool Borough Council has announced a £1bn scheme which will change the face of Blackpool forever. The plan has been created by a team which includes Peter Moore, who was responsible for the repositioning of Alton Towers as a major theme park. The proposal covers 200 hectares of the resort and will take 15-20 years to complete. The resort will be divided into four "lands", similar to a theme park: Pleasure Beach, The Village, Central Beach and Town Centre. The 42-acre Blackpool Pleasure Beach is to be retained as the central focus of the 'Pleasure Beach' zone, but it would be complemented by a whole host of new attractions, including a 18,200 sqm glass aquarium next to the South Pier, a new 800-bedroom resort casino hotel, an open air event park for live entertainment, landscaped gardens, extra parking, and all weather links to other parts of the resort. A huge new entertainment complex will be built in the Central Beach zone which will complement Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Almost as big as the Pleasure Beach itself, this will be a 27-acre, glass-covered complex with sub-tropical world, adventure exploratorium, casino resort hotel, spa and roof garden. This whole scheme has been made possible by Government Economic Development Zone funding, and funding from the two principal private sector partners, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Leisure Parcs (owners of the Tower, three piers and Winter Gardens).

Wooden Coaster for Alton Towers? [14/3/03]

Alton Towers has submitted a planning application to the local planning authority, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, asking for permission to build a wooden roller coaster. The ride is described as "Wooden roller coaster with ancillary station, maintenance and retail buildings and landscaping." Should planning permission be granted for the ride, and the park proceed with its construction, this would be the first wooden roller coaster to be constructed at the theme park. More news here as it breaks.

Britain's Oldest Amusement Park Ride Under Threat [12/3/03]

The famous Shipley Glen Tramway is threatened with closure and this may result in the closure and redevelopment of the Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds, home of what is believed to be the country's oldest amusement park ride. The owners of the funfair and its famous Aerial Glide ride (built in 1900 and pictured right) have announced that the pleasure grounds cannot operate without the tramway, which brings visitors up the hillside to the popular tourist spot. Late last year a petition of 2,200 signatures was presented to the council in an attempt to stop planning permission being granted for residential development. 
Above: The Aerial Glide, Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds
Paul Teale, who has operated the fairground since 1966, claims that the residential planning application is a "contingency plan" in the event of the tramway closing. Local campaigners claim the closure of the fairground would have a "devastating" effect on the whole of Shipley, and campaigners believe the loss of the vintage Aerial Glide ride would also be a major loss. Despite a last-minute rescue package of £20,000 from Bradford Council, the future of both the tramway and the fairground still hang in the balance.

New Attractions for Camelot Theme Park [12/3/03]

Lancashire's Camelot Theme Park has announced its new attractions for the 2003 season. Heading up the list is a UK first-of-its kind ride: a £1.5m Maurer Söhne spinning coaster. At 1,141 feet long, this 7-car roller coaster will reach speeds of up to 38mph. Also new for 2003 is Enchanted Glade, a "mystical land" featuring a new ride for younger visitors and Merlin's School of Wizardry, where potential magicians learn the tricks of the trade.

Laugh Your Troubles Away at Joyland [4/3/03]

New to Joyland is this book telling the full story of Chicago's largest and best known amusement park. Laugh Your Troubles Away - The Complete History of Riverview Park traces the changes and development of the park, which closed in 1967, through antique maps, postcards, vintage ads and rare, historic photographs taken by the park. The book is incredibly well-researched (one of the co-writers is a founding member of the National Amusement Park Historical Association) and the text is accompanied by 263 photos. Most photos were taken by the park's own photographers and were only recently discovered in private collections. These photos are exclusive to this book. Click here for more details.

More Secondhand Books Added [4/3/03]

We have good copies of a number of secondhand books now in stock. Fairfield Folk is the story of the Matthews fairground family and now generally regarded as a fairground classic. This first edition is much in demand. Hello Campers is the bright and colourful history of the Butlin's holiday camps, which goes through each of the ten camps, one-by-one, before looking at the various entertainments on offer. We also have a very rare 1938 edition of Seventy Years a Showman, the story of travelling showman 'Lord' George Sanger, amongst other things the founder of the pleasure garden/zoo that would eventually become Margate's Dreamland.

Click here for even more secondhand books.

New to Joyland...New to Joyland...New to Joyland [2/3/03]

Several new books have been added to the Joyland Books online bookstore. Vintage Funfairs is a new release from author Brian Steptoe. It covers English steam fairs, rallies and antique carousels across Europe, the United States and Australia. Fairground organs, museums and collections are also featured and traditional scenic fairground art and signage is illustrated throughout. The Roller Coaster Lover's Companion is the ultimate guide to the world's wickedest rides, with chapters on: the history of roller coasters; types of roller coaster; the world's best wood and steel coasters; the parks with the best selection of coasters and a guide to roller coasters worldwide (with ratings for each coaster. Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania is a guide to the unique parks of this US state by leading amusement park historian Jim Futrell. Click here for the Bookshop.

Folkestone Magic Mouse to go [2/3/03]

The Magic Mouse roller coaster at Rotunda Amusement Park has been sold and engineers are currently dismantling the ride. The Magic Mouse, a spinning coaster, was installed at Rotunda in 1998, and is the latest ride to be stripped from the park, which closes at the end of the 2003 season. The ride has been advertised for sale in trade paper The World's Fair for the past two weeks. More rides are expected to be removed over the coming weeks and months.

Right: The ride pictured last week shortly before its removal.

Discuss this news in our Forum

Frontierland Redevelopment Put on Hold [27/2/03]

Frontierland Western Theme Park stands empty as Morrisons announce that redevelopment plans for the site have been put on hold, according to the Morecambe Visitor newspaper. The supermarket giant planned to build a factory outlet centre on the site of Morecambe's former amusement park, which was bulldozed two years ago, but the company has now admitted that it is "having a major selling job" in convincing retailers to come to the resort. The retail complex was granted planning permission a year ago following a public inquiry, and the Frontierland site has been cleared, leaving only the Polo Tower and Log Flume. A spokesperson for Morrisons stated that the company has not completely backed out of plans, and will be looking at future opportunities for the site.

Secondhand Fairground and Seaside Books Added [23/2/03]

Several collectable secondhand books have been added to Joyland's Secondhand Shop. Anyone who loves the seaside will want to get their hands on our selection of seaside books. Seaside Architecture, from the people behind Fairground Architecture, is a journey through some of the coast's most recognisable structures, past and present. Pavilions on the Sea is a history of the seaside pleasure pier and The Butlin Story is the story of the holiday camp king. For fairground enthusiasts, we have Fairground Heritage Volume One: An Age of Achievement and Volume Two: The Steam Age. We have also added Organ Parade, Fairground Architecture and Travelling Fairs. Click here for even more.

Tussauds Group For Sale [23/2/03]

The Tussauds Group - owners of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures - is reportedly going up for sale with a price tag of £500m. Charterhouse bought the waxworks-to-theme parks company from Pearson in 1998 for £352m, but the company is expected to release strong trading results in the next few weeks showing a 40% rise in profits for 2002. The Group has invested heavily over the past two years, with two major new roller coasters at Thorpe Park and a big new ride at Alton Towers. Alton Towers will also open a new hotel and water park this year. The Telegraph newspaper reports that the US theme park operator Six Flags, which has expanded into Europe but has no properties in the UK, is a potential buyer.

Save Dreamland Convention Announced [19/2/03]

A major event has been announced for all supporters of the Save Dreamland Campaign. The 'Save Dreamland Convention' is to be held on Easter Saturday 19th April 2003 at Margate’s historic Theatre Royal, and is being organised in association with the European Coaster Club. Hundreds of roller coaster enthusiasts from around the world are expected to attend, as well as local people, some whose livelihoods depend upon tourism trade and many who care for Margate’s heritage and its future. Starting at 1pm, the convention will include a history of Dreamland by Mick Tomlinson, Chairman of the Margate Events Group; a talk about the importance of the Scenic Railway by Richard Foster, Chairman of the European Coaster Club; and Nick Laister, leader of the Save Dreamland Campaign, will tell supporters how they can make a difference. Also part of the packed programme will be a special screening of the landmark 1953 short film, ‘O Dreamland’.

Click here for more information about the Convention, or click here for the Save Dreamland Campaign website.

Save Dreamland Convention: Saturday 19th April, at the Theatre Royal, Margate

Click here to discuss this news in our new Forum!

Dreamland Leisure Ltd Fined [19/2/03]

Dreamland Leisure, the company which owns both Margate's Dreamland and Folkestone's Rotunda Amusement Park, has been fined over safety. Meridian News reports: "Kent based Dreamland Leisure has been found guilty of failing to take steps to reduce the risk of danger to customers who used the Mini Dragon ride at the Rotunda Amusement Park in Folkestone. Eight year old Erin Griffin, who was from Adisham near Dover, was thrown off her seat and struck her head on a metal bar. She died the next day. Dreamland Leisure, which has assets of more than £28 million, was fined £25,000 for breaching health and safety laws. They were also ordered to pay £140,000 in costs and a compensation order of £15,000." 

Rotunda Amusement Park, Folkestone: Owner fined.

Discuss this news in Joyland Books' new Forum

Roller Coasters, Piers and Fairgrounds Arrive at Joyland [17/2/03]

There is something for everyone in the latest selection of books added to our Secondhand Shop. For those who like to be beside the seaside, we have added two pier books: British Piers and Seaside Piers. The former is a glossy colour book of pier photographs from the 1980s, the latter is a detailed study of the rise and fall of the seaside pier. For fairground enthusiasts, we have added Showmen's Engines, a book about those fantastic steam machines that pull the local fair into town. English Circus and Fair Grounds is a book about the dawn of the travelling circus and fair, and Seventy Years a Showman is the story of the man who started Margate's Dreamland, 'Lord' George Sanger. Also for the fairground enthusiasts is Historic Fairground Scenes and for the roller coaster enthusiast, we have added a secondhand copy of Roller Coaster, the definitive guide to the king of the amusement park. For more secondhand books, click here.
Above: British Piers: fantastic colour photography.

Trocadero Pepsi Drop Not Going to Funland [16/2/03]

Plans to move the Pepsi Drop tower ride from London's Trocadero to Funland Amusement Park, Hayling Island, might now have to be scrapped after planning permission was refused by Havant Borough Council. Park owner, Marshall Hill, had planned to open the 35-foot high Giant Drop ride in time for Easter. The tower ride formed part of a £1 million investment in the park, which would have seen two other major thrill rides (Tornado and Break Dance) open at the park. The tower ride, which would have been twice as tall as Funland's tent structure (pictured right), hoists riders slowly to the top before sending them plummeting to towards the ground. No decision has yet been made on whether to appeal the decision. 

A good decision or another kick in the teeth for the amusement industry? Discuss this news in our new Forum.

New Palace Indoor Amusement Park Demolished [15/2/03]

The New Palace indoor amusement park, which has been a feature of the sea front at New Brighton for several generations, has been demolished. All that remains is the facade building (pictured to the right). The huge structures behind - and the adjacent amusement arcade - have been demolished. Until the late 1990s, New Palace featured a large range of rides and attractions, including Waltzer and Twist, but in recent years the number of rides had been reduced to include a large Go-Kart track, Dodgems and a number of small juvenile attractions. The owner of New Palace, David Wilkie, plans to create an outdoor amusement park on the site.
Above: Only the facade now remains of the New Palace indoor amusement park.

Loudoun Castle Theme Park Sold [11/2/03]

Scottish theme park Loudoun Castle has been sold to Bembom Brothers, the Dutch theme park operator. Bembom Brothers previously owned Margate's Dreamland Fun Park, which they acquired from Associated Leisure in 1981. The park was sold to Jimmy Godden in 1995, but Bembom Brothers are still based at Dreamland. The company operates a rides hire and sale business from the park and from another site in Margate. The company is currently moving all its rides from Dreamland to Loudoun Castle, which it is hoped will open for the 2003 season.
Above: Loudoun Castle entrance pictured in 2002.

Kursaal Memories: Pre-Order Now [9/2/03]

Exclusive to Joyland Books - your chance to receive copies of Kursaal Memories a few days before its official release date of 11 April 2003! Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park tells the full story of the south of England's biggest amusement park. Home to no less than three wooden roller coasters, a water chute and numerous other rides and attractions, the Kursaal was the major destination for visitors to Southend-on-Sea from the late 19th Century to its eventual closure in the 1970s. Click here for more information on the book, and a chance to pre-order your copy now.

Pre-Order your copy now

New Palace Amusements to be Redeveloped [8/2/03]

David Wilkie, owner of the Palace indoor amusement park complex at New Brighton, has announced plans to redevelop the site. The plans centre around the demolition of the Bright Spot amusement arcade, which sits at the edge of the site, and two other large buildings. This will be replaced by an outdoor amusement park, which will operate in high season only. In the winter months the site will hold markets or a circus. Outside of those times, it will be used as a free car park. According to the Wirral Globe newspaper, Wilkie has turned down several offers from property developers to close the amusement park. The Wilkie family has been operating at the site for over 100 years.
Above: The Bright Spot Amusement Arcade, part of the huge Palace complex at New Brighton.

Click here to discuss this news in the new Forum.

Brighton Pier Ghost Train Destroyed [5/2/03]

The Brighton Pier Ghost Train has been completely destroyed in the fire which swept across the Pier yesterday evening. The Ghost Train, which is one of the few in the country to extend to two storeys, was of a design based on the Ghost Train at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and featured a roller coaster-style drop behind the station, and balconies on the upper levels. Also damaged in the fire was the Helter Skelter, the Turbo Coaster (a Pinfari roller coaster with single loop) and the children's boat ride which was located immediately in front of the Ghost Train. The fire has now been brought under control, although part of the Pier decking supporting the Ghost Train collapsed. There were no casualties.
Above: The Brighton Pier Ghost Train, which was destroyed in last night's blaze.

Click here to discuss this news in the new Forum.

Fire at Brighton Pier [4/2/03]

News has just reached Joyland Books that Brighton Pier is on fire. The fire appears to have started at the end of the Pier in the fairground area, and flames can be seen rising above the rides. The Pier has been evacuated, but there are no reports of casualties. The main A259 in the vicinity of the Pier has been closed to allow fire fighters to attend the blaze. At the present time, the cause of the fire is unknown, as is the extent of damage to the Pier, its rides and attractions. The Pier will be closed for the next 24 hours after which it will be handed back to its owners, the Noble Organisation.
Above: Brighton Pier

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Chairman Receives Top Award [4/2/03]

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Chairman Doris Thompson, who celebrated her 100th birthday last month, was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the fifth annual Blackpool Tourism Awards. The glittering ceremony, held at the Winter Gardens, showcased the best of the resort’s premier industry. Accolades went to the industry’s finest which ranged from the smallest to the largest hotels and other attractions. The presentation to Mrs Thompson was a surprise category at the end of the ceremony.
Jane Seddon presents the award to Mrs Thompson, with her son Geoffrey (left) and grandson Nick (right). Click to enlarge.

Head of Tourism Jane Seddon, who presented the Award, said: "Without doubt the person who will receive tonight’s special award has certainly devoted more years than many of us would hope to aspire to. She has done it with such grace, charm and sparkling sense of humour that anyone who has met her has been impressed by her indomitable spirit and passion for Blackpool." Other awards won by the Pleasure Beach included Cafe of the Year (T Cafe) and Entrepreneur of the Year (Amanda Thompson).

Brighton Pier Applies for Twin Booster Rides [1/2/03]

Planning officers have recommended refusal of a planning application for two 40m high booster rides for the end of Brighton's Palace Pier. The Noble Organisation, which owns the Pier, proposes to replace two existing rides - the Ranger and Ventura. Planning officer David Vickers has recommended refusal because he considers that the two white knuckle rides - similar to Blackpool Pleasure Beach's 2002 Spin Doctor ride - would dominate the end of the Pier to an unacceptable degree, especially if the Megadrop ride (which already has permission) is also installed. The decision will be made this coming Wednesday. Update: planning permission refused 5/2/03. 
Above: Brighton Pier

Discuss this news in our new Forum.

New Roller Coaster Video Released [26/1/03]

An exciting new video has been released which will whisk you away on an armchair tour of some of Europe's best roller coasters. European Coaster Thrills takes you into the powerful world of gravity and speed on 12 top European roller coasters. Whether they are wooden, looping or water coasters, this video takes you close to the action. It features roller coasters from Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy. Coasters include Wild Wild West at Warner Bros Movie World (Germany), Tonnerre de Zeus at Parc Asterix (France) and Expedition Ge Force at Holiday Park (Germany). This is a video you will want to watch again and again. Click here for more details.

Release Date of Southend Kursaal History Book Announced [26/1/03]

First announced on Joyland Books over a year ago, the release date of a brand new book about the south of England's biggest amusement park has been announced. Kursaal Memories: A History of Southend's Amusement Park will be available from 11 April 2003. Written by established Southend author, Ken Crowe, the book traces the full story of the park from its origins at the end of the 19th century, to its closure in the 1980s. Packed full of photographs, most never before seen in print, this book is set to become one of the most important amusement park publications. Click here for more details, including a sneak preview and information about the author.

If you would like to be contacted when the book is released, click here.

Above: The Southend Cyclone roller coaster at the Kursaal.

Joyland Books Launches New Discussion Forum [25/1/03]

Joyland Books has launched a new place on the Web for discussing your favourite subject: amusement parks, theme parks and fairgrounds. We also have separate discussion areas for the Save Dreamland Campaign and British seaside resorts and there is also a place to discuss your favourite/least favourite fairground books and videos. "Joyland Books has been successfully operating a small message board for two years, but it became clear that this board fell far short of the requirements of our visitors and customers", said Joyland Books Proprietor, Nicola Laister. "We do hope that you will enjoy our new Forum, and that you find the categories useful. Our aim is to make the Joyland Books Forum the preferred place on the Internet to discuss anything and everything about amusement parks, fairgrounds and the seaside. Have fun!" Click here to enter the new Joyland Books Forum.

Theme Park Founder Honoured [20/1/03]

Angela Wright, founder and Managing Director of Devon's Crealy Adventure Park, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List for services to tourism. Wright founded Crealy in 1989 on the site of her family's farm, and it has since grown to become one of the UK's major family theme parks. Wright also serves on the management committee of the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA). The park has expanded over the years, and now includes attractions such as El Pastil Loco runaway mine train and the Swinging Queen Bess pirate ship. Also honoured was Southend Adventure Island owner Philip Miller, who also received an MBE.

Planning Application Submitted for Marvels Redevelopment [20/1/03]

Benchmark Properties has submitted a planning application for the redevelopment of Scarborough's Marvels Amusement Park site. The scheme will include a dome-covered water park, hotel, health and fitness club, restaurants, retail and self-catering holiday accommodation. The closure of Marvels was announced in 1999, and the park's roller coaster was moved to Knowsley Safari Park. The park was also home to one of the UK's most spectacular dark rides, opened in 1994 following a major investment. Benchmark anticipates receiving planning consent before the end of the year. 

Available Now: The History of Big Wheels [18/1/03]

A book about one of the most popular amusement park and travelling fairground rides in the world, A Century of Big Eli Wheels is the history of the Eli Bridge Company, famous for its big wheels. It includes the story of big wheel inventor George Ferris and the man behind the Eli Bridge wheels, William E. Sullivan, and is packed with photographs of big wheels taken over a period of 100 years. This is an updated version of the first edition published in 1993 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Columbian Exposition. One for the big wheel enthusiast!

Click here for more details.

Visit the American Circus at Joyland Books! [18/1/03]

New out is this fantastic book of photographs of the American Circus. Experience the antics of the antipodists, the derring-do of the equestrians, and the skill of the wire-walkers. This collection of vintage photographs provides a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of the American Circus during its heyday. This is the first of what we hope will be several circus books at Joyland Books over the coming months.

Click here for more details.

Mrs L D Thompson Celebrates 100th Birthday [12/1/03]

All of us here at Joyland Books would like to wish Mrs Doris Thompson MBE, Chairman of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, all the best for her 100th Birthday. Born on 12 January 1903, and the daughter of Pleasure Beach founder William George Bean, Mrs Thompson became a director of the Company in 1929. She still plays an active role in the development of Britain's most popular tourist attraction, and continues to test out all the latest thrill rides, including Playstation The Ride (now Ice Blast) and last year's Spin Doctor. Over the years, Mrs Thompson has become one of the most respected international ambassadors of the British amusement park industry.

Several Blackpool Pleasure Beach Rides Put on Market [11/1/03]

Several rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and its sister park, Southport's Pleasureland, have been put up for sale. The Millennium Bug, installed in 1969 in "Britain's first triodetic space structure glazed with thermoplastics", is advertised in trade paper The World's Fair, as is the Cableway, casting doubt over whether this ride will ever operate again. Also in the advert are several rides from Pleasureland, including the Hurricane Jets and Himalaya Ride. Those interested in purchasing any of the rides should telephone Jim Rowland or Nick Thompson on 01253 341033.
Above: The Millennium Bug in Blackpool's own Millennium Dome

Joyland Books Launches Campaign to Save Dreamland [7/1/03]

Editor of the Joyland Books website, Nick Laister, has announced that he intends to launch a campaign to save Dreamland and its much-loved Scenic Railway roller coaster. Laister, a chartered town planner and the person who lead last year's campaign which resulted in the Scenic Railway achieving listed building status, will provide details of the campaign over the coming weeks on the Scenic Railway website
Speaking this afternoon, Laister said: "As a planning consultant, I am involved in this type of work every day. There are a number of avenues open to us to save the ride and to save some or all of this popular park. I propose to use my experience of the planning system to fight these proposals. 

"I believe that the loss of Dreamland is completely unnecessary, and is only being brought about as the result of the present owner, Jimmy Godden, retiring. The loss of the park would be a huge blow for Margate's tourism industry. The Scenic Railway is the single most important ride in Britain in terms of its historical significance. The fact that it is now listed means that the owners have to cross several hurdles before they can demolish it. The events in Folkestone over the weekend make me certain that, were it not for the ride being listed last year, the Scenic Railway would by now have been removed."

"I am now looking for people to join me in my campaign to save the ride. To email Nick Laister and join him in his campaign, click here.

For more information on the campaign, and the latest news about the plans to close Dreamland, visit the new Scenic Railway website.

Rotunda Amusement Park Demolished [8/1/03]

Bulldozers have already moved in to the Rotunda Amusement Park, Folkestone. The park is owned by Jimmy Godden, who also owns Margate's Dreamland (Godden has also announced the closure of Dreamland - see other news reports). Demolition of the concrete Rotunda dome at the centre of the amusement park, built in 1938,  commenced on Saturday. The redevelopment plans, by Trent Developments, are to replace the park with a 7-screen multiplex cinema, a ten-pin bowling centre, a new bingo hall, restaurants, wine bars, cafes, health club, 600 new homes, supermarket and 2,000 car parking spaces. 
This news follows the closure in recent years of Frontierland at Morecambe, Spanish City at Whitley Bay, Marvel's at Scarborough and Merlin's Magic Land at St Ives, amongst others. Several other parks are known to be under threat from redevelopment. Rotunda is also home to the oldest travelling roller coaster in the world, built in 1922, and erected at the park in 1998. Its future is unknown at the present time. Godden has stated that his retirement is the reason for the park's closure. More news here as it breaks.

The End For Margate's Dreamland [6/1/03] 

Margate's Dreamland Fun Park is to close. The park's owner, Jimmy Godden, has announced that the park is to be replaced by "leisure boxes", retail development and a supermarket. The Dreamland Cinema is to be retained. It is believed that  Godden also plans to demolish the Scenic Railway. This became a Grade II listed building last year, following a campaign lead by Nick Laister, editor of the Joyland Books website. Godden also owns the Rotunda Amusement Park in Folkestone, which is currently being partially redeveloped as shops, flats and indoor leisure facilities. 
Speaking today, Nick Laister said: "The Scenic Railway is the oldest roller coaster in Britain, at 83 years old, and is one of only two surviving scenic railway coasters. I am concerned that members of Thanet Council already seem to have accepted that closure is inevitable. I find it astonishing that the closure of Dreamland could be seen as a benefit to Margate. Dreamland is the only major seaside fun park in this part of the country. If it closes, what will bring the people to Margate? Retail boxes and a supermarket? You can see these in any town in Britain, you don't have to go to Margate." No planning application has yet been submitted. Click here to visit the Joyland Books Scenic Railway Website, and join our campaign to save the park and its famous ride.

New to Joyland Books: People's Palaces [4/1/03]

Britain's seaside pleasure buildings are rarely appreciated by visitors to our coastal resorts. This book is the highly acclaimed celebration of the best of our seaside heritage by architectural historian Lynn F. Pearson. It looks at piers and pavilions, theatres, ballrooms, winter gardens, aquariums, sideshows, glass domes, observation towers and many more seaside attractions. It is a record of the seaside towns, the buildings and the people behind them and covers resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton, Great Yarmouth, Morecambe and Southport. Click here for more information.

Several Rare Books Added to Secondhand Shop [4/1/03]

Several highly collectable books have been added to our Secondhand Shop. Heading up the list is the first ever book written on the subject of fairs: Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair. This is a copy of the 1892 reprint of the 1857 original. Seventy Years a Showman is the story of the life of 'Lord' George Sanger, travelling showman. English Fairs and Markets is about the part that fairs and markets have played in English life. Anyone interested in the early development of Britain's pleasure parks will want to read the biography of Charles Wicksteed, the man behind Northamptonshire's Wicksteed Park.

For a full list of our secondhand books, click here.

Which? Web Trader Scheme to Close [4/1/03]

The Which? Web Trader Scheme is to close on 6 January 2003. The Scheme was set up by the Consumers' Association three and a half years ago to recognise online traders operating to the very highest standards. From over 8,000 applications received by the Consumers' Association during that period, only 2,700 traders were accepted to the Scheme. Joyland Books was accepted in July 2002. A press release about the closure can be found here. The scheme has been closed due to the high costs associated with its running. Customers of Joyland Books can rest assured that our commitment to the principles of the Scheme remains, and you can be assured that it will continue to be our normal online trading practice. 

Closed Amusement Park Reopens [3/1/03]

News has just reached Joyland Books that the Seaburn Fun Park (Seaburn, near Sunderland), which closed down at the end of the 2000 season [see 2000 News Archive], reopened towards the end of the 2002 season under completely new management. The park had been run by James Crow and Sons since they took over the lease in 1985, but dwindling visitor numbers had resulted in the operators leaving the park before their lease ran out. The Council had looked into other uses for the site, but no alternative use was found. The new operator of the park is Billy Joe Butlin, and rides featured for the last few weeks of the 2002 season were a vintage 1949 Meteorite, Sizzler Twist, ARM Quasar, Pinfari Wacky Worm Coaster, chairoplanes and the jets, which had previously operated at the park under its previous operators. The park will reopen in Easter 2003 with two new rides: a full-size Pinfari Roller Coaster (which previously operated at New Jersey, USA) and a Waltzer.
Above: Seaburn Fun Park entrance pictured in 2000, just days before it closed for what was thought to be the last time.

More Secondhand Books Added [3/1/03]

Three amusement park books head up the latest batch of secondhand titles added to Joyland Books. Designing Disney's Theme Parks is a large, glossy hardback book looking at how this legendary park was conceived and developed. Amusement Parks: An American Guidebook is a guide to amusement parks in the United States. Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History is the extremely rare and much sought after history of coasters in the UK. Fairground enthusiasts haven't been forgotten, though, with two new additions. Memories of St. Giles' Fair tells the story of the famous Oxford street fair and Fairs and Revels is a study of early fairs and other festivities. Click here for a full list.
Roller Coasters: Their Amazing History by Robert Preedy

Secondhand Fairground Books Added [1/1/03]

A selection of vintage fairground books have been added to the Secondhand Shop, examples of some of the most influential fairground writing of the last century. Heading the list is the seminal publication Fairground Architecture by David Braithwaite, now much sought-after. Fairground Steam harks back to the days when steam ruled the fairground. Bioscope Shows and Their Engines looks at the forerunner of modern cinema and the magnificent machines that hauled the shows from town to town. Seventy Years a Showman is the life story of 'Lord' George Sanger and Memoirs of Bartholomew Fair is a reprint of an 1859 publication, this edition having a foreword by Fairground Architecture author, David Braithwaite. Click here for the full list.
Classic Book: Fairground Architecture

Butlins Book Bonanza! [1/1/03]

Several books about Billy Butlin and his holiday camp empire have been added to our Secondhand Shop. The Butlin Story by Rex North tells the full rags to riches tale of Billy Butlin. The Butlin Holiday Book 1949-50 was the first in a planned series of souvenir annuals - a real collector's item. Hello Campers celebrates 50 years of Butlins and is packed with photographs of Butlin's Holiday Camps.

And don't forget, our main Book Shop sells copies of The Billy Butlin Story by Sir Billy Butlin and Peter Dacre and the brand new book of Butlins photographs, Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Announces Major Investment for 2003 [1/1/03]

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is to invest £6m on a string of major new attractions for the 2003 season, Joyland Books can reveal. Spring 2003 will see the opening of the 118-bedroom Big Blue Hotel, the first new hotel to be built on Blackpool's sea front for almost a quarter of a century. Rooms will come equipped with DVD games consoles and special children's areas. The hotel will also feature luxury lounges, a business centre, conference facilities, gymnasium and children's check-in desk. There is also massive investment in new and refurbished rides at the park. A major new white-knuckle ride for children will be constructed in Beaver Creek, but the exact details are being kept secret. Also in Beaver Creek, the 1932 Magic Mountain ride (formerly called The Grotto), is to get two brand new trains, following its recent makeover. The trains are to be called Doris 100 and Heidi 001, to celebrate Pleasure Beach Chairman Doris Thompson's 100th birthday and her great granddaughter's 1st birthday respectively. The Grand Prix ride is to get a fleet of new 1950s-themed Mercedes cars, a newly themed station and a state-of-the-art sound system. General park improvements are to include a new theme for the Playdium amusement arcade. Blackpool Pleasure Beach reopens in March, and the new attractions will have staggered openings throughout the year.

True Tales of a Travelling Showman: New to Joyland [1/1/03]

They Seek Him Here, They Seek Him There is now available from Joyland Books. 

After sustaining a back injury, travelling showman Keith Nichols decided to pick up his pen and write about his experiences on the open road, from a very small boy in the 1950s to a family man in the 1990s. As the book shows, life on the road was - and still is - very hard. Nichols met the good, the bad, the funny and the sad, and all are in this book, which is described by's Andrew McKinley as "fantastic reading". Click here for more information.

Happy New Year! [1/1/03]

Happy New Year from all at Joyland Books! Many thanks to all our customers for your continued support. Visitor numbers to the main website for November 2002 (the last full month for which data is available) were a staggering 90% up on the same month in 2001. We were the first specialist online amusement park and fairground bookstore, and we are still the biggest and best! 

Over the past year, we have added numerous new fairground and amusement park books to the site, but the big hit of the year has been the ever-expanding Secondhand Shop. Over the past twelve months, this has grown to be the biggest secondhand fairground and amusement park bookstore on the Net. In March, Joyland Books made the national newspapers, radio and television when we - with the help of - secured Britain's first ever listed amusement park ride: the Scenic Railway roller coaster at Dreamland, Margate. In April, Joyland Books launched the World's first photographic library dedicated exclusively to amusement parks, theme parks and the rides that operate within them. In June, Joyland opened two completely new departments; one selling seaside books and videos; the other selling rare amusement park/roller coaster postcards. In July, Joyland Books was awarded membership of the Which? Web Trader scheme organised by the Consumers' Association to recognise online traders operating to the very highest standards. And there is much more to come in 2003, with some exciting new releases, re-releases, and with a big expansion of our amusement parks, roller coaster and seaside departments. Stay tuned!

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