|Scenic Railway, Gt Yarmouth|
I've been a roller coaster enthusiast for more years than I care to remember, right from that very first ride on the Scenic Railway at the then Botton Brothers park at Great Yarmouth, when I ended up having four repeat rides as I just didn't want to get off. The second drop, plunging underneath the superstructure, was the biggest drop on the ride and I just couldn't get enough of it!
Since then, I've been on some of the tallest and fastest rides on the planet, but I still love the classic rides that form the rich heritage of the roller coaster. One of which is, of course, the Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate. Like the ride at Great Yarmouth, it has flanged wheels on a raised wooden track with a metal running surface on the top; an on-train brake is operated by some lucky so-and-so who gets to sit on the train all day long. No under-track upstop wheels here - any airtime you get is real airtime, although the track was profiled so as not to cause the wheels to rise too far off the running surface. When Dreamland was under the management of the Bembom Brothers, the Scenic
|All run down and ready for housing in 2004|
Except some of us weren't so keen on that idea. The Save Dreamland Campaign was born, and our
|The Gala Evening - final rides in 2004|
|Flying round the track...|
|The "Big Tidy-Up" Day, 30/11/13|
|The Dreamland Expo - packed out! Opening day 2014|
...and then the work started on the park itself - The Pleasure Gardens. The Scenic Railway needed all its wood replacing. In order to preserve its Grade II listing, the old wood was replaced section by section, so that the new wood stood in the same structure as the old wood - the "Ship of Thebes/Theseus" paradox. All the operating vintage wooden roller coasters in this country will have had the entire structure replaced over the years - it all just happened a little quicker with the Scenic Railway!
So there we go! Things went quiet on the Save Dreamland Campaign front, as the contractors took over. New wood started appearing on the Scenic Railway not long afterwards, and enthusiastic websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages appeared, and we eagerly followed the updates from the building site...
In part 2, I'll take you through my experiences on the Grand Opening Day - 19 June 2015!