Save Dreamland Convention: 1st June 2003

The Save Dreamland Convention on 1 June 2003 at Margate's historic Theatre Royal was a massive success, and received extensive press coverage. Below are some of the highlights of the Convention in pictures...

The day began at 10.00am for advance ticket holders with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Scenic Railway, courtesy of brakemen Dave Collard and John Husband. The tour included a visit to the huge Scenic Railway workshops. 

The extensive Scenic Railway workshops, part of the behind-the-scenes tour.

During the workshop tour, John Husband - who has worked on the ride for a quarter of a century - explained that the ride could not feasibly be moved. Given its age, when wood has to be replaced it has to actually be sawn from the ride to be removed. Only very small amounts of wood (the most recently replaced) could ever be salvaged; the vast majority would need to be scrapped.

Close-up of a Scenic Railway train pictured in the workshop.

The doors to the Theatre Royal opened at 11.30am, with crowds having gathered outside. Both the BBC and Meridian film crews were already inside the venue interviewing Nick Laister, Sarah Vickery and Richard Foster.  

A BBC Camera crew filming inside the Theatre Royal.

Nick Laister is interviewed by BBC Television (Photograph: Richard Foster).

Richard Foster is interviewed by the BBC (Photograph: Richard Foster).

Richard Foster and Justin Garvanovic from the European Coaster Club rehearse at the Theatre Royal.

Founder of the European Coaster Club, Justin Garvanovic, rehearses his speech.

As 12.30 approached, the the audience began to take their seats (Photograph: Richard Foster).

The first hour gave the audience an opportunity to enjoy the trade stands and Dreamland memorabilia and chat to fellow campaigners. The 10-foot model of the Scenic Railway, built by Mick Tomlinson and on display at the park for many years, proved particularly popular.

A view of the scale model of the Scenic Railway.

At 12.30pm local Campaign Coordinator Sarah Vickery welcomed everyone to the event and thanked our hosts the Theatre Royal.

The programme began with Mick Tomlinson, a Margatonian and local councillor who has organised Margate Carnival for many years. Mick worked at Dreamland for a number of years and was well qualified to take us on a journey through the highs and lows of the park’s colourful history.

Local councillor and historian Mick Tomlinson tells the audience of his time at Dreamland.

Our first film was a bit of a surprise. Margate’s most famous daughter Tracey Emin is very supportive of the Campaign and sent her film Riding for a Fall for us to show. To our knowledge, an Emin film has never been screened in her home town, so this was a coup!

Our next speakers focussed on the importance of the Scenic Railway. Richard Foster, Chairman of the 1500-strong European Coaster Club (ECC), came to us fresh from his recent appearance on the Richard and Judy Show!  Justin Garvanovic, Founder of the ECC and co-founder of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, is regarded as one of the world's leading roller coaster experts and is editor of First Drop magazine. They reiterated why the ride is so well loved by enthusiasts around the world, and also noted its huge international historical importance.

Richard Foster, with Justin Garvanovic, talks of the importance of the Scenic Railway.

Our next short film was filmed in Super 8mm, and featured the park in the mid-1970s, demonstrating how much the park had changed. The Scenic Railway had, however, changed very little.

Now go to Part Two for a report of the rest of the Convention, plus the gathering of campaigners in front of the Scenic Railway itself for photographs and many roller coaster rides!

Click here for Part Two

Sunday 1st June 2003
at the

a special show..

...then a ride on the Scenic

With thanks to the Theatre Royal, Margate, for hosting the event.

Back to Save Dreamland Campaign