NEW TIMBERS FOR THE SCENIC RAILWAY!Timbers arriving at Dreamland: Dreamland Archive

Timbers arriving at Dreamland: Dreamland Archive

Such a buzz in the Dreamland Visitor and Learning Arcade this week when the new timbers for the Scenic Railway arrived in Margate.

Since our September newsletter, Dreamland’s 1920 Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway has been a hive of activity with design and build specialists, Topbond, removing the buildings and structures in, and around, the UK’s iconic historic thrill ride. Sections of the old timber have been removed (much of which is in a rotten state, and some we hope to salvage). The new wood has now been delivered to the Dreamland site.

The Dreamland Trust is working with Howard Griffin from the Kent School of Architecture to create a time lapse video of Dreamland’s evolution. Howard is uploading footage onto our YouTube channel each month. The first episode, shot two weeks ago, is now available to view, the second episode will be posted shortly – please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBUS6_s5dNw to watch this amazing transformation!

You can also follow The Dreamland Trust and Dreamland’s progress on facebook and twitter.


Dreamland Stowaway: Dreamland Archive

Dreamland Stowaway: Dreamland Archive

As you might expect Dreamland has its fair share of ghost stories from sightings of ‘Lord’ George Sanger in the original Hall by the sea ballroom to paranormal activity in the river caves.

In the 1990s work had to be halted on the installation of a new dark ride at Dreamland, in the basement of the Grade II*-listed cinema complex. Workmen reported strange and ghostly goings on in a new version of the former Dreamland favourite, The River Caves, latterly known as the Stowaway, underneath the current Dreamland Expo in the Visitor & Learning Arcade.

Ghost Hunter, Andrew Green (1927-2004), known in the media a ‘The Spectre Inspector’ was brought in to investigate having previously hunted ghosts at the Royal Albert Hall and Battersea Park. Then followed an investigation by TV presenter of Haunted Homes and clairvoyant to the stars, Mia Dolan.

It transpired that the disturbance was being caused by the spirit of a murdered young woman who had been wrongly accused of immoral practices and was making contact with the living from beyond the grave to clear her name.

And if you watch the Dreaming of Dreamland documentary you will hear more about the spooky Stowaway ride – mwahahaha! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9KMMH6QXP0.

Schools and community

Hartsdown Pupils: Dreamland Archive

Hartsdown Pupils: Dreamland Archive

We appreciate old fashioned things like letters here at Dreamland and so when we received one from Jude McCreath in Hitchin we got very excited. He is 11 years old and has been visiting Margate every year since 2008 for his summer holidays. He wants to be an architect when he’s older and likes restoration and designing buildings. He is building a town near the sea on Minecraft that he’s trying to make look like Margate – the Turner Contemporary has already been built and he is soon tackling Dreamland.

In his words, ‘I thought that when I was older I’d bring it back to life. It seems that you’re doing it for me though! Dreamland will be amazing when it opens. To think it could have been a housing estate!’

Thanks for your support Jude and we hope to see you here soon!

The beginning of this academic term has seen us establish partnerships with local schools in the area, holding a successful teacher’s information event in the Visitor & Learning Arcade and we are now pleased to be working with 2 nurseries, 5 primary schools, 4 secondary schools and 2 other educational establishments in the lead up to Dreamland’s 2015 phase one opening.

Hartsdown Academy students in Margate have been presented with a brief to design a Dreamland postcard and another to design and build a bandstand mentored by Dreamland designers Wayne Hemingway MBE and Jack Hemingway.

In Ramsgate, Ellington and Hereson School’s Year 10 photography GCSE students met with the learning team to talk about Dreamland and Margate’s revival in advance of a trip to the Visitor & Learning arcade and Dreamland Expo after half term.

We also are proud to announce that we are now an Arts Award centre, meaning that we can offer a range of unique qualifications that support anyone up to 25 to grow as artists and arts leaders. Through Arts Award young people gain a nationally recognised qualification enabling them to progress into further education and employment. Arts Award has five levels, four of which (Explore, Bronze, Silver, Gold) are accredited qualifications on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). Arts Award Discover is an introductory level.

If you’d like to book a school trip to or hold a community activity in the Dreamland Visitor & Learning Arcade, please email Donna@dreamlandmargate.co.uk.

Who is the artist?

Dreamland wall painting: Dreamland Archive

Dreamland wall painting: Dreamland Archive

 So, two fabulous wall paintings survive at Dreamland – does anyone know who the artist is?  We’d love to meet them!  If you have any info, please email archive@dreamlandmargate.co.uk.



horrorcabaret poster 2[1]










Four days of free family fun activities in the Arcade from Monday 27 October to Thursday 30 October from 12pm to 2pm. Scary stories, face painting, mask making and apple bobbing. Get a map and follow our ghost trail around Margate to claim your free spooky prize!  Free event, no need to book, just drop in!


Following the sell-out success of the launch event in July, The Private Widdle Social Club returns to Dreamland’s late@theArcade slot to entertain, thrill, chill and make you blush!

Freaks, creeps and creatures of the night are all welcome to join The Private Widdle Social Club for a Cabaret of Horrors late@theArcade Dreamland, Margate on Hallow’s Eve, Friday 31 October 2014 from 7pm through to the witching hour.

The Cabaret of Horrors is hosted by Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist, and winner of the Best Drag Act at the London Cabaret Awards 2014, La Voix, who is on a one woman mission to bring back glamour, class and sophistication back to Margate.

In the traditional cabaret style, this soiree includes the fabulous Miss Blackendecker on the Musical Saw; hybrid impersonator, Frank Sanazi; Fire Eating Miss Jones; taxidermy puppeteering, gothic poetry, music, hilarity and dancing with a twist of the macabre and bizarre.

Jugs of Bloody Mary and the Nutty Professor’s test tubes will steel your nerves whilst the Burger Bros meal in a basket will fortify the feint-hearted. The celebrated Social Club’s Amy Winehouse raffle promises to yield devilish tricks and delightful treats.

Due to demand, we have increased the VIP offer to include the Fairground Round Stall VIP enclosure as well as the ever popular VIP Whip Cars with Personal Service. Allocated tables and standing tickets also available.

For event, venue and ticket details please visit   http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/latethearcade-cabaret-of-horrors-tickets-13027302011?aff=es2&rank=1. Adult entertainment. Booking is absolute essential. Club rules: there are no rules. 


An enormous THANK YOU to our tireless volunteers and generous supporters in particular this months special thanks goes to Peter King for assisting with refreshing the Dreamland Expo!  


To make a contribution toward helping The Dreamland Trust to continue to delivering their objectives and serving the community, please contact office@dreamlandmargate.co.uk.


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Here is a link to our time lapse video showing the restoration of Margate’s iconic Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBUS6_s5dNw.

The machine house, locker room and Continental Café now removed to make way for restoring the ride’s timber structure.

Watch this space as work progresses over the next few months.

Dreamland's Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway restoration September 2014

Dreamland’s Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway restoration September 2014


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Important people

Left to right: Cllr Iris Johnston – Leader of Thanet District Council, Glenn Springett – Managing Director Topbond, PLC Group, Susan Marsh MBE – Hon Secretary, The Dreamland Trust, Grant Burton – Capital Development Manager, Thanet District Council, Eddie Kemsley – Project Director, The Dreamland Trust, Wayne Hemingway MBE – HemingwayDesign, Grant Forwood – Site Manager, Topbond PLC Group

On Monday the 15 September 2014, work began to reinstate Britain’s oldest surviving roller coaster to its former glory.

Dreamland’s iconic Grade II*- listed Scenic Railway is now being lovingly restored by Kent based contractors, Topbond Plc. Group to be ready for Dreamland’s grand opening in 2015.

This historic ride first thrilled visitors to Margate when it opened to the public in 1920. With a track of just under one mile, speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and operated manually by a brakeman, the Scenic Railway was an instant hit carrying half a million passengers in just thirteen weeks.

Dreamland 1920 II

Scenic Railway, Dreamland 1920

The ride continued to be a massive tourism draw and enjoyed a long run until an arson attack in 2008, which destroyed approximately 25% of the ride, the railway station, work sheds and trains. The Dreamland Trust and Thanet District council have secured Heritage Lottery Funding to restore and preserve this important part of British amusement park heritage.

Scenic engine shed

After an initial recording of the building and structure for historic purposes, the dismantling of the buildings and structures, commencing with the motor house (as seen in James Henderson’s images above), will follow a phased programme.

Restoration will include the replacement of the foundations on which the newly fabricated timber trusses will be erected. Secondary timber structures will then be fixed to the main structure. All the works will systematically follow the scenic in a clockwise direction.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Iris Johnston said, ‘It is very exciting to see work start on Britain’s oldest surviving rollercoaster. The Scenic Railway is synonymous with Dreamland and the Council is very proud to be leading the way, breathing life into Dreamland once again.”

Eddie Kemsley, Project Director at Dreamland, said “This is an important milestone in Dreamland’s history and is symbolic of the enormous achievement of the Dreamland Trust’s ‘Save Dreamland’ campaign. Work on the Scenic Railway is one of many crucial steps in our work towards opening a re-imagined Dreamland”.

During the re-building works, The Dreamland Trust will continue to host an exhibition on Dreamland’s history and future. The Dreamland Expo: a past, present and future, describes the revival of Dreamland – one of the UK’s best loved amusement parks.

Ahead of the anticipated 2015 opening, multi-disciplinary award-winning designers, HemingwayDesign led by Wayne Hemingway MBE, Gerardine Hemingway MBE and Jack Hemingway are working to create a re-imagined Dreamland as a unique vintage-style amusement park featuring restored historic thrill rides, classic side shows and destination dining set within a landscape capable of hosting national festivals and major events.

The new Dreamland will be a visual and sensual delight, delivered by creative thinkers and designers ensuring every nook and cranny is touched by the hands of artists and artisans. With a creative use of up-cycled amusement park artefacts and fairground paraphernalia creating an immersive, timeless environment.

Meanwhile, the Dreamland Expo is open free to the public at the weekends from 10am to 5pm and available during the week for pre-booked school visits, groups and community activities.

For more information visit the website at www.dreamlandmargate.co.uk or email arcade@dreamlandmargate.co.uk or telephone 01843 297755.


We’re about to embark on a large-scale community up-cycling project to help us interpret Dreamland’s rich heritage from its origins in the early 1860s railway boom to Victorian circus and pleasure gardens, 1920s modernist era through to the birth of British Youth Culture in the 1950s and the park’s heydays during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

We will be up-cycling a selection amusement park content and light installations, donated by Blackpool Illuminations, to create evocative set dressing, public realm and fill every nook and cranny of the reimagined Dreamland with visual serendipity and stunning photo opportunities.

In addition to these donations, Dreamland has, for the past year, been building a collection of fairground artefacts and paraphernalia from around the UK.

We will also salvaging material from the rides and park restoration process including ride parts and timbers from Dreamland’s iconic Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway.

If you would like to offer some time and your creative skills to help with this amazing project please contact the Up-cycling Project Manager, Ben Morton at ben@dreamlandmargate.co.uk or telephone directly on 07973 523 745.


All inherited resources which people value for reasons beyond mere utility: English Heritage website

lost cabinets

Coin-operated videogame arcade machines were the domination of many a youth’s pastime in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Who would have thought back then that these games would now be considered an integral part of our cultural heritage!

As gaming and home entertainment evolved, videogame arcades became less popular with many of their machines being lost from the historic record. So we were delighted when Dr Alan Meades of Canterbury Christ Church University contacted us earlier this year to say that he believed he had made a significant find of rare and unusual videogame cabinets deep within the Dreamland vaults.

Dr Meades has now catalogued and assessed the collection and will be presenting an exhibition of the lost cabinets in the Dreamland Visitor & Learning Arcade at the weekends from Saturday 27 September 2014.

Exhibition of the Lost Cabinets presentation by Dr Meades will take place at 6pm on Friday 26 September 2014 followed by a celebratory event of gaming with pizza and beer from 7pm to10pm also on Friday 26 September 2014 – tickets £5 available on the door.

Dr Meades has studied and written extensively on the subject and produced the paper below for our newsletter.

Dreamlands: Arcade Culture by Dr Alan Meades                       

I grew up on the East-Kent coast twenty-five years after the summer of the Mods and Rockers, so famously captured in British Pathé’s Whitsun Playtime news report. The film presents ‘longhaired youngsters …waiting apparently for someone to start something’, and the eventual descent into an ‘orgy of hooliganism,’ erupting on the doorstep of Dreamland’s Bali-Hai bar. What is curious to me is the difference between the events presented in Whitsun Playtime and my adolescent experiences in the same place separated by a quarter of a century. What I experienced, and what I now research, is Arcade Culture, how people grew up in and around videogame arcades, and the communities and behaviours these spaces enabled, including the arcade that the Bali-Hai bar was eventually turned into. I would argue that videogame arcades were one of the very last spaces in which young people could go about their business largely unregulated, and can be seen as an important transition between the youth culture of the Mods and Rockers, and of that of today.

Growing up during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bemboms, and by extension, Margate seafront, existed in two modes: the short, colourful, hot, energetic summer season; and the long, grey, drizzly months either side of the holidays. We always visited Bemboms a couple of times each year – often after carnivals where discount cards were generously distributed from the Bemboms bus – as locals, but our trips on the Looping Star, The Mary Rose, or The Scenic Railway, were an occasional treat. Even with the huge crowds, visits to Bemboms were public, we’d bump into school friends, acquaintances, and family, and all too often, on returning home would be informed that we’d been seen by someone while we were getting up to no good. For me, Bemboms, Marine Parade, and the sands were therefore excruciatingly public spaces. In those adolescent years this visibility felt both stifling and embarrassing, and like every adolescent I clamoured for spaces beyond the judgemental adult gaze where we could simply be – and for me and my friends videogame arcades offered this invisibility. 

Videogame arcades were largely free from adults, entirely free from mothers, and mostly free from the utterly perplexing influence of teenage girls. Instead boys could congregate, play videogames, plan adventures, form allegiances, oppositions, scuffle, and be free. Whatever the season, whatever the weather, the arcades were open, welcoming, and electric, and we found camaraderie and meaning through the adventures and experiences we shared upon videogame screens. 

We raced Ferrari Testarossas in Sega’s Out Run, weaving through traffic in Coconut Beach and Devil’s Canyon, a digital blonde girlfriend by our side – until the car inevitably crashed and flipped. I remember Bemboms had a deluxe Out Run machine, and each time someone climbed into the huge, sit-down game, a crowd would form. As it lurched and shifted during turns, we would nod in mute support at good players, or share smirks and the odd heckle to those who were bad and did not belong. Elsewhere we zapped alien Space Invaders, chomped power pills and ghosts in Pac Man, doled out rough justice to Mad Gear gang members in Final Fight, and smacked down cocky opponents in Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat. With every credit we used we built reputations as better players and felt more at home in the arcades, building and sharing knowledge about strategies, cheats or lame moves, and developing an awareness of the risks and dangers of the arcade space itself and its other residents. It is important to point out that the spaces, freedoms and experiences depicted in the games felt as meaningful and urgent as those in real-life spaces. In turn we used our experiences of videogames as ways of thinking and making sense of everyday adult life. I’ve continued this relationship with videogames ever since my experiences in those videogame arcades, and I’ve a strong suspicion that many others of my generation have too.

For me Bemboms offered distinct spaces that enabled different groups to do different things: there was the amusement park itself, full of families, friends and girls, where you were always seen; there were the videogame arcades, frequented and dominated by adolescent boys, largely free from interruption; and then there were the digital spaces and landscapes that existed on game screens and in our imaginations.

By the late 1990s however, largely due to the development of more powerful home videogame systems, videogame arcades became less popular. In the same way that videogames had replaced pinball machines in the 1980s, arcades began replacing videogames with more profitable fruit machines and ticket redemption games where players swapped prize tokens for trinkets like stuffed toys. As the makeup of the arcade changed it no longer offered the invisibility it previously had – ticket redemption brought families, children, adults and girls, and as fruit machine stakes were raised the gambling took on a more serious adult tone. With the influx of adults I believe adolescent boys returned to the confines of their bedrooms and invisible digital meeting spaces.

Looking back at those days, twenty years removed, I can begin to see the arcade spaces for what they were. Firstly, videogame arcades were some of the very last spaces where adolescent boys could congregate and socialise without from interruption and the judgement of adult society. Secondly, they represent a way that digital technologies were introduced to people, where with a few 10p coins anyone could experience the pleasures and potential of computing. And, finally, videogame arcades can be seen as a key point marking the shift from physical adolescent play spaces to digital ones – the move from youths congregating on Margate main sands or Dreamland …waiting apparently for someone to start something’ to now congregating on Facebook, Xbox Live or Twitter.

Videogame arcades are socially, culturally and historically important points in the development of youth culture, serving as a connection between the open confrontation of the Mods and Rockers in Whitsun Playtime and the pokes, Trolls, and memes of youth culture today. I am currently working with Dreamland to explore arcade culture, including the intended restoration and archival of arcade videogame machines (including that Out Run deluxe).

If you would be interested in contributing, if you have stories about videogame arcades, or even arcade components, PCBs or cabs, please do get in touch at arcade@dreamlandmargate.co.uk.




Presentation of the Lost Cabinets by Dr Alan Meades 6pm followed by gaming, Pizza and Beer from 7pm to 10pm Friday 26 September 2014 – tickets £5 on the door

Exhibition of the Lost Cabinets

Dreamland’s lost cabinets on public exhibition from Saturday 27 September 2014 every weekend between 10am-5pm. Free entry.


Four days of free family fun activities in the Arcade from Monday 27 October to Thursday 30 October from 12pm to 2pm. Scary stories, face painting, mask making and apple bobbing. Get a map and follow our ghost trail around Margate to claim your free spooky prize!  No need to book, just drop in!

Late@theArcade: Cabaret of Horrors

Following the sell-out success and back by popular demand – The Private Widdle Social Club returns to the Arcade to entertain, thrill and make you blush!

The Cabaret of Horror hosted by the exuberant La Voix and supported by an abundance of Widdle talent from Miss Blackendecker on the Musical Saw; hybrid impersonator, Frank Sanazi; the fabulous Fire Eating Miss Jones, taxidermy puppeteering, gothic poetry, Jugs of Bloody Mary, the Nutty Professor’s test tubes, meals in a basket, peculiar raffle and more!

VVIP fairground round stall enclosure, VIP Whip Cars, allocated tables and standing tickets all now available at latacabarethorror.eventbrite.co.uk.  Adult entertainment. Booking is absolute essential. Club rules: there are no rules.



At the end of a fantastic summer season, with over 30,000 visitors to the Visitor & Learning Arcade, The Dreamland Trust would like to thank all our volunteers for their time, talent, skills and commitment and our dedicated supporters for their contributions and resources. Our special thanks go to Peter King, Neil Sutcliff and Kapo – thanks guys :)

The Dreamland Visitor & Learning Arcade autumn opening times are now 10am until 5pm every Saturday and Sunday.

The Arcade is open mid-week for pre-arranged school visits, groups, community activities, presentations and celebrations. Contact arcade@dreamlandmargate.co.uk for more information.


To make a contribution toward rebuilding Dreamland for future generations, please email office@dreamlandmargate.co.uk.

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After a hugely successful summer season, in which we have seen over 25,000 visitors to the Visitor and Learning Arcade, the Dreamland Expo will remain open to the public at the weekends between 10am and 5pm throughout the autumn and winter season, and open every day during October half term for family fun and Halloween capers.



Saturday 6 September

Free event between 11am and 3pm



11-13 September Hourly tours from 11am – 3pm

A guided tour of Dreamland’s iconic 1934 Grade II*-listed cinema complex and famous amusement park and heritage assets.


Free event. Booking absolutely essential by telephone 01843 297755 or email arcade@dreamlandmargate.co.uk – places are limited and on a first come first served basis.


Please be aware that due to the age and condition of the site there is limited access via stairs only. Please ensure you wear sensible outdoor shoes and clothing.  No smoking, eating or drinking allowed. H&S briefing will be given before tours.



26 September 6pm-7pm Free event

Illustrated talk on arcade culture and the exhibition of the lost cabinets by Dr A F Meades, Senior Lecturer in New Media Theory Canterbury Christ Church University


26 September 7pm-10pm An evening of gaming, pizza and beer £5 on the door


Free exhibition open to the public Saturday 27 September and Sunday 28 September and Saturday 4 October and Sunday 5 October


31 October 7pm – mid-night


Back by popular demand and following a sell-out success – The Private Widdle Social Club returns to the Arcade with the vivacious La Voix and an eclectic mix of music, exuberant dancing, raffle, jugs of Bloody Mary, the nutty professor’s test tube shots and meals in a basket.


VIP Round Stall and VIP Whip Car tickets available from the Arcade Saturdays and Sundays, and allocated seating and standing tickets available on the Eventbrite webstie from Friday 12 September 2014.  Book early to avoid disappointment. Club rules, there are no rules.

OCTOBER HALF TERM – free family fun and Halloween capers in the Arcade. Further details to follow – watch this space!


Throughout the autumn and winter months, the Arcade will be available for pre-booked school visits, community activities, student projects, research, presentations and tours – for details and more information please email arcade@dreamlandmargate.co.uk or telephone 01843 297755

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Blackpool Illuminations come to Dreamland Margate!




L to R: Richard Ryan Head of Blackpool Illuminations, Lightworks Depot, Jan Leandro, Heritage & Engagement Manager, The Dreamland Trust, Wayne Hemingway, Gerardine Hemingway and Nick Laister, Chairman, The Dreamland Trust

Last autumn The Dreamland Trust and HemingwayDesign visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Blackpool Illuminations on what turned out to be a very rewarding research trip.

Whilst there we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Illuminations HQ, archive and works depot by Head of Illuminations, Richard Ryan. The operation and scale of the collection is truly breath taking and we were thrilled that Richard agreed to donate selected items to Dreamland Margate.

Blackpool’s world famous illuminations came about in the 1870s when the council awarded £5,000 to experiment with electric street lighting.  Dr Siemens’ 8 dynamo-electric machines, powered by 16 Robey engines, were switched on, on the 19 September 1879,  to power 8 arc lamps on along the seafront emitting light equivalent to 48,000 candles with approximately 100,000 people from across the UK travelling to marvel at the spectacle – and there rest, as they say, is history…

We are now super excited to announce the arrival of some of Blackpool’s classic illuminations to adorn Dreamland’s park environs in 2015. Amongst the selection are fountains, snowflakes, angels, devils and all manner of sparkling decorative features.

Cllr Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said: “The Dreamland restoration plans are is a real community effort and have attracted great support.

“It’s pleasing that Blackpool will be able to make a contribution to such a historic landmark.

“We wish all the Dreamland team the very best with their project.”

The Dreamland Trust will be working with the local community and volunteers to restore and up-cycle these pieces ready for installation next spring.

Eddie Kemsley, director at Dreamland, said: “We’re delighted that Blackpool Illuminations – one of the most iconic sights in British culture – has donated items towards Dreamland ahead of its opening next year.

“We plan to make good use of the items in very creative ways.”

20,000 visitors!

This month we celebrated our 20,000th visitor to the Visitor & Learning Arcade. What a surprise Kate McDonagh, from Erith in Kent, got when she was greeted with a roof-raising cheer and goody bag when she walked through the doors to the Dreamland Expo! Kate received a goody bag and said;

“Dreams Can Come True in Dreamland”.

Opened on the 25 May 2014 The Arcade and Expo have proven to be a very popular attraction and learning resource for the local community and visitors to Margate.

The Expo is an immersive and interactive experience for all the family, evoking Dreamland’s heyday, charting the revival of one of the UK’s best loved amusement parks and looking forward to things to come in the exciting lead-up to Dreamland’s opening next year.

Situated in a vintage style arcade, the Expo describes Dreamland’s rich heritage and plays host to a collection of 1950s and 60s arcade games and pinball machines, fairground and amusement park artefacts, bijou cinema and so much more…

The space provides a unique setting for community activities, school trips, presentations, celebrations and special events. The Arcade also supports a programme of pop-up exhibitions, talks, tours, entertainment and acts as an archive hub for collecting images, movies, ephemera and artefacts.

For more information about opening times and what’s on visit www.dreamlandmargate.com.


Our congrats go to the new Margate Carnival Committee and Chair, Jack Packman, for a stupendous carnival this year and to Festival Director, Eli Thompson and his crew at the Westcoast for a stomping great Soul Weekender – oh how we danced!

Also our grateful thanks to Madam Popoff and Kiss Me Quick for sponsoring our Knobbly Knees competition; Lucy Gudgeon, compare extraordinaire; Lorraine Smith; bunting maker, MENCAP arts & crafts groups; Mark Beneyto’s Bali-Hai BBQ, and the award winning Phases team for the wonderful circus taster sessions in the Arcade funded by Kent County Council Arts Investment Fund.

Margate Football Club and the Dreamland connection 

The Royal House Crowd 27 March 1923 courtesy of Jeff Trice.

The Royal House Crowd 27 March 1923 courtesy of Jeff Trice.

Margate v The Royal Marines c1920 courtesy of Jeff Trice.

Margate v The Royal Marines c1920 courtesy of Jeff Trice.

Dreamland Firework Field post 1922 courtesy of Jeff Trice.

Dreamland Firework Field post 1922 courtesy of Jeff Trice.






So, what does dreamland have in common with football – well, we’ll tell you!

Margate Town Football Club, now known as Margate Football Club, was founded in 1896 at a meeting held at Holy Trinity School in Margate chaired by Colonel Rowland Hill and had two spells where the Hall By The Sea (to become Dreamland) served as the club’s home ground. Local historian, Jeff Trice, picks up the story from here.

Having previously played at a ground known as Northdown Corner – located where the Holly Lane parade of shops in Cliftonville stands today – Margate Town initially moved to a pitch in the grounds of the Hall By The Sea for the start of the 1912/13 season. The pitch had previously been used by local club St.John’s Guild and during their tenure there, which had started in September 1905, it had generally been known as The Eaton Road Ground. There was no stand or cover for spectators at the Hall By The Sea but deck chairs were positioned around the pitch on match days. A major problem was that the pitch was surrounded by higher ground where people could watch matches for free.

Margate Town continued playing on the same pitch until midway through the 1919/20 season when – according to the local press – the club were forced to move to a different part of the site following the change of ownership at the amusement park that saw it renamed Dreamland. The new pitch was on a field that was used for weekly firework displays during the summer season and it had a bank of uncovered tiered seating on one side. However there’s some debate as to whether Margate Town actually moved to an entirely different part of the Dreamland site or if the existing pitch was actually just resized /moved a short distance.

Margate Town left Dreamland at the end of the 1920/21 season and had a spell playing at a ground near The Hussar pub in Garlinge before returning to the firework field pitch at the amusement park in October 1924. There was still no cover at the ground and no hard standing for spectators but ‘duck boards’ were put down as the 1924/25 season progressed.

During the second spell at Dreamland there was a period when a firework would be let off each time Margate Town scored a goal and on 7th May 1927 a match against Northfleet United ended with a mini riot. Margate Town supporters invaded the pitch when the game finished and sticks and stones were thrown. The cause of the trouble was the poor performance of the referee, a Mr Edwards, and in the chaos he was hit by a brick and had to be rushed away in a motor car via a back entrance at Dreamland.

Margate Town stayed at Dreamland until the end of the 1927/28 season when it temporarily went out of business. After reforming as Margate Football Club in 1929 the club moved to Hartsdown Park where it remains to this day.

All Aboard!

Did you know, that you and your dearest could be the first to ride Dreamland’s fully restored Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway at the 2015 Grand Opening?

Yes, it’s true!  All our newsletter readers are automatically entered into a prize draw – all you have to do is  tell your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours, so they too have an opportunity to enter the draw by signing up to receive the newsletter on our website at www.dreamlandmargate.com.

Hold on tight and scream if you want to go faster!

Cabaret is a hit!

Our first Late@theArcade with the Private Widdle Social Club was a magnificent evening of laughter, cocktails, sing-a-long, poetry, saucy dancing and general cheekiness hosted by the amazing La Voix!

If you missed this sell out event, don’t fret – there will be more… meanwhile here are some pics and our grateful thanks to our Dreamland volunteers and contributors – especially…

  • Peter King for stage and set build
  • Neil Sutcliff for sound, lighting and technical services
  • Laura, Dan and Lyn for working the bar
  • Greg for manning the doors
  • The Lifeboat
  • Burger Bros

For you diary…

We are flagging up some of the exciting events and activities taking place in the Arcade this autumn. Full details will be posted our What’s On page at www.dreamlandmargate.com. In the meantime you may want to pencil some of these into your diary.

  • 6 September Busking at the Arcade
  • 11-14 September English Open Heritage Days – talk and tour of Dreamland’s iconic Grade II*-listed cinema complex and Sunshine Cafe
  • 27 September Gaming@theArcade with pizza and beer in the evening
  • 27 September – 4 November Exhibition of the Lost Cabinets curated by Dr Allen Meades + talk and presentation
  • October half term – Halloween@theArcade for all the family: ghost stories, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, face painting and fancy dress competition
  • 31 October Late@theArcade Cabaret of Horrors

All funds raised through our activities, sale of souvenirs and donations help keep the Arcade open!

And finally…

We say a fond farewell to Howard Evans who sadly passed away this month.

Howard is remembered for his generous community commitment, lively chat at Academy fm, the nurturing of young emerging performers and not least his love of and support for Dreamland – he will be truly missed.







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The Visitor & Learning Arcade is proving to be a tremendous hit with locals and visitors to Margate – we’ve welcomed over 12,500 visitors since we opened 25th May. We even have our regulars who drop in to catch the latest film showing in the bijou cinema, people who previously worked at Dreamland, the curios and folk bringing to us their archive photographs, memorabilia and memories.

Now showing in the Arcade is our short documentary film, Dreaming of Dreamland, an affectionate portrait of Dreamland, Margate and our seaside heritage as told by the local community. The film takes the view on an exciting journey through Dreamland’s chequered past, present and looks toward a bright future.

Also this month, we are super excited to welcome on board our newly appointed Learning & Community Officer, Donna Watford. So passionate about Margate and Dreamland is Donna, that she is relocating from Brighton to the Original Seaside! Donna will be responsible for schools and community engagement and is in the process of putting together our programme of activities for the new academic year.


Bringing back glamour, class and sophistication with a side of humour, La Voix is a lady you can’t help but admire and adore. Winning many prestigious awards which include Best Drag Act at the London Cabaret Awards 2014, Winner of Drag Idol 2012 and most recently the Gold Award winner for Best Drag Act at the Boys Scene Awards.

So it is no surprise that we are thrilled to bits to announce that LA VOIX will be hosting our fundraising cabaret with the legendary Private Widdle Social Club, Late@theArcade on 15 August 2014. For the past 10 years LA VOIX has been taking on the big divas and making them her own, on both stage and screen. More recently she was found on Britain’s Got Talent, where she left the judges entertained up to the semi-finals.

LA VOIX is a vivacious performer, her many talents add saucy layers to her shows, with live spine tingling vocals that are the finest in the industry. Her uncanny ability to switch between the vocal styles of Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland or Cher with the click of a finger leaves the audience mesmerised.     The Private Widdle Scoial Club provides a cornucopia of the cult and bizarre including musical artistes, salacious dancing, performance poets, illusionists and so much more all set in the dramatic surrounds of Dreamland’s 1934 Grade II*-listed cinema arcade.

Our complimentary Dreamland cocktail will get things swinging. Lifeboat bar, Burger Bros basket meal and raffle available – all funds raised help keep the Arcade open!

All funds go toward sustaining Dreamland’s Visitor & Learning Arcade – ticket numbers are limited due to capacity, so booking is absolutely essential!   Full details and tickets available at latacomedycabaret.eventbrite.co.uk

latacomedycabaret linked


One of Dreamland’s most memorable rides, the Caterpillar was first introduced to the park in 1922, and became a favourite with generations of visitors until the early 1980s.

John Henry Iles bought the sole European rights for the ride the previous year, and it was therefore forever associated with Dreamland. For many years, Iles operated Caterpillar rides at a number of British and European amusement parks, each under individual operating tenders. Over the years, countless thousands of people were whirled around an eighty-foot diameter undulating track at increasing speed.

At the peak of the ride, participants were plunged into darkness by a continuous, tent-like covering, to the accompaniment of a wailing Klaxon. Moments later, the cover would be pulled back and a blast of compressed air would be blown under each individual rider, much to the merriment of bystanders.

The Dreamland archive possesses an original paper order from the Caterpillar Company in the U.S. for the purchase of the original Dreamland Caterpillar.  There were similar Caterpillar rides at Barry Island, Southport and Battersea Pleasure Gardens.

If you have any memories of the Caterpillar or Dreamland we would love to hear your stories and see any photographs to build up the Dreamland archive. Email us at arcade@dreamlandmargate.co.uk or pop down to the arcade and speak to one of our lovely staff.

Undated Dreamland Caterpillar: John Hutchinson Collection


Last month, local resident, Gordon Frankland donating 3 stunning mid-century Italian light shades believed to be from the Hall by the Sea’s ‘Speciality Bar’.  We’ve been searching the archive for more information about this bar and wonder if any out there can through some light on this (‘scuse the pun!).    These beautiful light shades are now on exhibition in the Arcade for all to enjoy.


We now have on display 3 delightful Junior Whip cars thanks to Dave Love and supporters who helped salvage the ride for Dreamland.   These fabulous dragon-themed cars are from the last surviving Junior Whip ride in the UK following the demolition and complete rebuild of the American Whip at Southend’s Adventure Island in 2009.   The Junior Whip opened at Pleasure Beach Blackpool in 1927 as the Fairy Whip. It was believed to have been originally located in Bingle & Bob’s, the children’s park set up that same year between the Jack n Jill Slide and the Scenic Railway.   In 1924, it was moved to the replacement children’s park, Emberton’s Kiddies Park, where it was located immediately south of the Zipper Dipper.   It operated until 2008, in recent years as Griffin’s Magic Dragon, and in 2009 it was dismantled and moved to Dreamland where the ride awaits assessment for restoration.


The Dreamland Expo: A Past, Present and Future

Open daily from 10am until 5pm, free entry, no booking required At the heart of the summer programme is an exhibition charting the revival of one of the UK’s best loved amusement parks. The Expo is an interactive experience for all the family evoking Dreamland’s heyday and charting the journey toward next year’s official re-launch of this British institution and immersive entertainment destination. Situated in a vintage style arcade in Dreamland’s 1934 Grade II* listed cinema complex, the Expo explores Dreamland’s rich heritage and houses a collection of 1950s and 60s arcade games and pinball machines, fairground and amusement park artifacts, bijou cinema and more.


Sundays from 2pm-5pm at the Dreamland Visitor and Learning Arcade, free entry, no booking required In celebration of British seaside cultural heritage, The Dreamland Trust is running classic holiday camp events including knobbly knees and lovely legs with a little 1960s and 70s disco in the background. The event is sponsored by vintage clothier, Madam Popoff and seaside emporium, Kiss Me Quick. Also look out for the What a Vintage Carry on! bus running between the station, the Dreamland Arcade and Turner Contemporary on the weekend of the 16 and 17 August.


2 – 3 August, free entry 2pm-5pm Sat 2nd Aug and 12pm-3pm Sun 3rd Aug Over Margate Carnival weekend, The Dreamland Trust will be celebrating Dreamland’s early origins in circus and parade with gravity-defying displays of vertical acrobats and athleticism performed by Phases Studio.


15 August, 7:30pm-11:30pm, Tickets £15 including a complimentary cocktail, booking essential at http://bit.ly/1kDxBYh An exclusive Late@theArcade event with the legendary Private Widdle Social Club – an evening of outrageous cabaret, laughter and cocktails hosted by the fabulous La Voix (as seen on Britain’s Got Talent). Club rules, there are no rules!


On now till 10th Aug The Arcade will exhibit an installation by Canterbury based multi-disciplinary artist, Stuart John Peiter Brough. Brough has created an interactive memory box for collating Dreamland memories with sound created by Joe Wright. Accompanying the memory box is a series of Dreamland-inspired album cover artworks, produced for the award winning Elliot Galvin jazz trio.


Exhibition: 27 September – 4 October free entry, no booking required, preview on the 27 September at 7:30pm A free pop-up display, the Exhibition of Lost Cabinets will be at the heart of Gaming@theArcade. The exhibition features a collection of rare gaming cabinets missing from the historic archive, reviving classic games through MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) for contemporary machines. Curated by Dr A F Meades, Senior Lecturer in New Media Theory at Canterbury Christ Church University. Late-night gaming Friday 26 September from 7:30pm, tickets £5 on the door A late night gaming event on Friday 26 September will feature gaming, DJs, pizza and beer.


Margate Carnival organisers are looking for volunteers and stewards to help with celebrations – if you are interested, please contact margatecarnivalgroup@yahoo.co.uk or contact Jack Packman on 07791426025.


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latacomedycabaret linked

On Friday 15 August 2014 The Dreamland Trust launches the first in a series of exclusive Late@theArcade events with legendary The Private Widdle Social Club in the exciting lead-up to the opening of Dreamland in 2015.

These bi-monthy soirees at the Visitor & Learning Arcade in Dreamland’s 1934 Grade II*-listed cinema complex, promise to be an evening of outrageous cabaret, divine cocktails and provocative entertainment hosted by the fabulous drag artiste and star of Britain’s Got Talent, La Voix!

The line-up includes a plethora of exuberant talent from performance poet and short-listed BBC Radio 4 Best Newcomer at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Malcolm Head; torch singer of Madam Jojo fame, Alfie Ordinary; tattooed ladies, salacious dancing, magicians, ventriloquist and more.

Doors 7.30pm. Tickets £15 includes a complimentary cocktail. Bar and basket meal available. Wheelchair access (some limited resources due to the age and condition of the building) Club rules: there are no rules.

Numbers are strictly limited and booking is absolutely essential.  Tickets available at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/latethearcade-comedy-cabaret-tickets-8992640229 and the Dreamland Visitor & Learning Arcade.



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