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 – 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 or telephone 01843 297755

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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


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

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 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.







Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



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 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 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 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 or contact Jack Packman on 07791426025.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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 and the Dreamland Visitor & Learning Arcade.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Art Crowd Returns to Kent, England by Andrew Testa

Dreamland gets a mention in The New York Times this week – full story can be viewed here…

NY Times

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Come One Come AllWhitsun weekend saw the opening of our vintage style Visitor & Learning Arcade in Dreamland’s former Bali-Hai bar with over 5,000 visitors coming through the door in the first week.  The young and not so young queued outside waiting for the count down with Chairman, Nick Laister; Hon Secretary, Susan Marsh and Board Director, Sarah Vickery who jointly cut the red ribbon and led the community through the doors.

The arcade houses the Dreamland Expo: a past, present and future – 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 Phase One opening in 2015.

Describing Dreamland’s rich heritage the arcade also plays host to a collection of 1950s and 60s arcade games and pinball machines, amusement park artefacts, fairground paraphernalia, bijou cinema, more…

VLA cinema

Last November, the local community raised funds to open the arcade at an art auction organised by Fontaine Decorative and this spring an army of volunteers, led by John Cripps, worked tirelessly to transform the space for all to enjoy.

The Arcade is provides a unique setting for community activities, school trips, presentations and special events – for more information please email

VLA interior

FREE ENTRY open daily from10am until 5.00pm – no need to book, just rock up and have fun! Wheelchair accessible.

Visitor & Learning Arcade, Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent CT9 1JX +44 (0) 1843 297755


The Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway running gear is currently being surveyed and tested in Doncaster by the engineering company, WGH Engineering Ltd.  We took the opportunity to interview the team when they came to Margate to remove the gear last month and boy, is there story interesting!

Our history goes back to the coal mining industry from the late 1960’s through to the early 80s when we designed and built rope haulages, rope hauled vehicles, self-propelled vehicles and locomotives for use on narrow gauge underground tracks.

We operated around the world but the NCB, as it was then, in the UK was by far our largest market. However after the miner’s strike in 1984 it became obvious that the whole mining industry was going to change dramatically, it was certainly going to contract and was definitely not going back to how it had been.

We decided then that we needed to start looking for a new outlet for the skills we had gained over the previous 20 years and pared back the business to its most basic level. The conclusion was that we designed equipment to run safely on very difficult and challenging tracks.

A railway track underground in a mine is nothing like the underground in London, it is much tighter and built on continually moving ground that can change daily. Even with good maintenance the track conditions are very challenging with lots of very tight curves, twist and misalignment, very similar to a roller coaster!   That literally was how we identified a logical extension to the business, which over the next five years actually replaced the mining sector entirely.

As WGH we have been successfully designing and building all manner of leisure rides; roller coasters, log flumes, suspended and ground mounted track rides and much more since1989.

Currently we have dismantled and examined most of the haulage equipment to establish firstly how the system worked and then what can be salvaged and reused.

We have also built two timber bogies based on various photographs, drawings and some intuition to again determine how they worked and identify the important dimensional interfaces between the vehicle and the track.

We have been analyzing the performance of the vehicles on the track using our standard data as we would normally but then comparing our findings with timed film evidence of the actual ride to try to trim our assumptions to match the actual conditions of this particular ride.

This is taking shape and we can now see where the problem areas are likely to be.

From left to right: size twin pivot intermediate timber bogie. Final dive shaft with the driven chain sprocket and rope drive pulley.  Main flat belt drive wheel dismantled for inspection.


And back in Margate, the Scenic Railway design and build contracts are now out to tender with the council anticipating a selection by early August and expressions of interest to restore the Corbierre Wheel and Junior Whip have now been received by the council who are in the process of evaluating the restoration method. The main works contract was put out to tender at the beginning of June and the park operator opportunity is out to tender with a deadline for responses by 25 July – visit Thanet District Council website for details.


Every month we will be featuring a story from the Dreamland Archive penned by our very own Mr Graham Ward. This month Graham talks about…


Originally constructed in 1866 as a railway terminus by the Kent Coast Railway Company, the Hall-by-the-Sea was taken over by Spiers and Pond for a period of seven years, and became a place of entertainment that catered to the delights of Margate’s residents, as well as for the burgeoning number of day-trippers to the resort who were arriving by sea from London. At the end of the tenure, the railway authorities failed to find a buyer, but it was subsequently purchased by Thomas Dalby Reeve, the ex-mayor of Margate, for a sum of £3,750.00. The property acquired included the Hall premises and some allotments at the rear, On Dalby Reeve’s death in 1875, ‘Lord’ George Sanger took sole ownership of the property, and the site remained in his hands until 1919, when it was bought by John Henry Iles.

Sanger was an illiterate showman of vast business acumen and energy. The son of an itinerant showman, James Sanger whom, it is said served as a press-ganged sailor on Nelson’s ‘Victory’ at Trafalgar, it is claimed that George Sanger’s earliest shows featured a flotilla of miniature ships that fired tiny fireworks whilst being towed by goldfish! Sanger, with his brother John, began a travelling circus which toured the United Kingdom. In 1849, he married the celebrated ‘Lion Queen’ Ellen Chapman. She would later appear in Sanger’s circus parade as Britannia, with a live lion at her feet. When the circus came to Margate in 1870, Sanger met Reeve, the then-owner of the Hall-by-the-Sea, and the two men entered into a partnership. After Reeve’s death in 1875, Sanger became both owner and proprietor. He ran the venue as a music hall and bar, with dances in the evenings, later opening a roller-skating arena to cater for the latest craze then sweeping the country. Installing 8000 square feet of maple flooring, and with daily demonstrations by one ‘Professor’ Chambers, named ‘the Skateorial King’, who schooled the more faint-hearted participants in the new art, the skating enterprise was a huge success. Sanger’s first enterprising act was to reduce the price of admission to the dancehall from five shillings to one, which resulted in a huge influx of attendees to the Hall-by-the-Sea. He then turned the land behind the Hall into an ornamental pleasure garden, complete with ‘ruined abbey’ folly, a lake, statuary and, most notably, a menagerie. Sanger’s principle motive for the opening of the zoo was as a breeding and training place for the animals he employed in the travelling circus and at Astley’s Amphitheatre in London’s Westminster Bridge Road, which he had taken over in 1871. He was credited as the instigator of the famous ‘Three-Ringed Circus’ concept, and introduced the first Wild West shows into England.

Sanger’s Hall-by-the-Sea Menagerie occupied the western half of the present Dreamland site. The railway embankment was remodelled into a series of terraces which featured walkways with trees, interspersed with copies of Roman statuary made from cement and painted to resemble marble. Against the western and southern boundary to the park, a wall was built which served to prevent views of the railway line that served the Margate terminus. Against this wall, Sanger built the abbey folly, a groundsman’s cottage and three animal cages designed, it is said, to contain live bears. Sections of the wall, a small portion of the cottage and the cages still exist, and were listed in 2009. The cages, which date from the early 1870s, are an extremely rare survival from the Victorian era. The menagerie contained lions, tigers, baboons, leopards and wolves. There was a slaughterhouse behind the main building which was screened by trees. The pleasure gardens contained a series of ornamental lakes, stocked with waterfowl. Tea gardens and refreshment kiosks were situated nearby, and there was also an area given over to amusements such as swing boats, roundabouts and an early waxwork show. At night, the gardens were illuminated with hundreds of Chinese lanterns suspended from the trees, and there were regular firework displays to delight the nocturnal visitors.

Sanger made Margate his home, and he lived there until his death in 1911, when news of his demise made headline news throughout the world. HIs funeral cortege was as elaborate as his circus parades, and he is interred in an elaborate tomb in Margate cemetery, next to which is that of his brother John, which is crowned by an impressive marble Mazeppa stallion.

In 1919, John Henry Iles bought the Hall from Sanger’s daughter and son-in-law. An advertising executive with a penchant for brass band music, Iles visited Coney Island in 1906, and was impressed by the brash new face of the pleasure complex as seen there. Particularly taken by the novelty and perceived profitability of the Luna and Dreamland theme parks, he also acquired the European rights to construct scenic railways, which were then very much a feature of the American park experience, and he subsequently built the first at Blackpool’s South Shore, quickly followed by that at the Franco-British Exposition of 1908. Iles renamed the Margate site Dreamland and made the Scenic Railway it’s thrilling centrepiece attraction. He also had major interests in Yarmouth, Aberdeen and Belle Vue, Manchester, and was responsible for the construction of the Margate Lido in 1926. An early afficionado of greyhound racing, Iles built a stadium in Ramsgate which was demolished only in 2001, and was also actively involved in the promotion of boxing, wrestling, football, zoos and chariot racing. It was his investment in the revival of the British film industry, notably as a major stakeholder in Elstree Studios, that finally lead to his financial downfall in 1938.


The Visitor & Learning Arcade was made possible by our local community, donators and committed volunteers who deserve a huge THANK YOU!  We would especially like to thank…

Stuart Atkinson and Kiel Shaw – Fontaine
Claire Blackwell
Claire Budd
John Cripps
Suzannah Foad
Abigail Simpson
Anne Swift
Blue Swift Gallery
Jim Moir
Joe Machine
Kate Smith – Updown Gallery
Keith Grossmith
Leigh Mulley
Mark Hampson
Matthew Penn
John Houston – Outside the Square Gallery
Paul & Magdalena Jebka-Scuffins
Robin Coates
Sophie Von Hellermann
Talma Gow
Tom Swift
Tracy Emin
Tracy Kendall
Anne Carrington
Arnold Schwartzman
Graham Ward
Kim Steward
Bluebird Coach
Coombs (Canterbury) Limited
Deborah Ellis – Madam Popoff
East Kent College
Eddie Gadd – Gadds Brewery
Michael Moyles Builders
Simon Cowell – Premier Flush
Allyson Jones – Morgan’s of Margate
Dan Thompson
Stephen Mina
Dom Bridges – Haeckles
Jo Willis
Lisa Hemingway – Cupcake Café
Lynne Hadley
Naomi Tomkin
Penny Miller
Peter King
Ron Mayoh
Nick Dermott
Carlos Dominguez – Cadaphoto
Chris & Jason – Rent-a-Bar
Eli Thompson – Westcoast Bar & Grill
Jerome Hillion – Jerome Hillion Hair and Make Up
Nova Clarke – Nova Clarke’s Workshop
Zoe Davis & Kristina Walker – Phases Dance & Fitness Studio
Lee Collier – Classic Cars
AG Studios
Age & Sons
DBA Editions
Jayne Bishop – Walpole Bay Hotel
Jilly Sharpe – Belvidere Place
Kelly Whiting – Beach View Guest House
Kim & Ted – IMMI Photography
Matt Lacey – Bannatynes
More than Yoga
Nick Cottington – Sands Hotel
Russell’s of Clapton
Two Spoons Catering
Andy Orrill – Stonaco Fabrications
Brian Thomas – SFL Construction Ltd
Harbour Arms
Julian Newick – The Lifeboat
Karl Wozny & Paul Emin – The Burger Bros.
Lee & Simon Eyles – IOT Scaffolding Ltd
Spencer Ray – TW Services
Kapo, Mandy & Gavin Kapucinski – Stylish Ice Cream Co.
Pete Heath and Phil Crow – Pinball Parlour
Alexandra Roarke
Annie Newstead
Beci Louise
Bobbie Mayoh
Claire Licence
Clark Miller
Harry Heath
Heather Keen
Iain Aitch
James Henderson
Jan Wheatley
Josh Woodcock
Katie Whicker
Lucy Austin
Samantha Vassiliou
Tia Jordan
Vincent Mirams
Rory Waitt
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



We invite you to join us in the opening of the visitor & learning arcade with the launch of the exciting Dreamland Expo: a past, present and future on Sunday 25 May 2014 at 2pm.

The local community, Dreamland supporters and volunteers held a glittering celebrity art auction in the former Grade II*-listed cinema amusement arcade last November to raise funds open a visitor & learning arcade in the lead up to Dreamland’s Phase One opening in 2015.

Volunteers have been working tirelessly to transform this space into an interactive and immersive exhibition evoking the atmosphere of Dreamland, charting the revival of one of the UK’s best loved amusement parks and looking forward to things to come.

Come one, come all – family fun and games including the pinball museum, face painting, ice cream, Nick Evans book signing, archive film screenings, tunes and dancing if the fancy takes you.

On Bank Holiday Monday, The Arcade will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Margate’s infamous youth culture clash with an all-dayer and a chance to win Fred Perry’s Margate on the Run T shirts.

The exhibition is free entry and will be open every day from 10am until 5pm with occasional fund raising music events, film screenings, presentations and activities throughout the year.

Dreamland Expo: a past, present & future

Visitor & Learning Arcade

Dreamland Cinema

Marine Terrace

Margate CT9 1JX


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment