Just in case you missed the news… the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed a grant of £3 million towards the Dreamland Margate project, it was announced in November.

The HLF grant is match funding to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Sea Change grant of £3.7m and Thanet District Council’s contribution of £3m.  The money will be used by the Dreamland Trust to restore Dreamland Margate and create a unique visitor attraction for theUK- the world’s first amusement park of historic rides with classic side shows, cafés, restaurants, special events, festivals and gardens and a celebration of our British seaside and popular culture with youth culture heritage at its heart.

Nick Laister, Chairman of The Dreamland Trust said; “The Dreamland Trust is delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded our project a substantial grant. This puts in place all the funding we now need to enable us to reopen Dreamland Margate and at the same time secure the future of its three remarkable listed structures, the Scenic Railway roller coaster, Dreamland Cinema and ‘Lord’ George Sanger’s Menagerie cages. These will form the centrepieces of the world’s first amusement park of thrilling historic rides. On behalf of The Dreamland Trust I would like to thank our partners, Thanet District Council, our consultant team and, most of all, our supporters for sticking with us for so many years. Hold tight – we’re nearly there!”

The revival of Dreamland is a major component of Margate’s and Thanet’s overall regeneration, providing a substantial visitor attraction which will generate at least 350,000 annual visits, with valuable learning, training and employment opportunities for the local community.  The park will also have provision for a dedicated learning centre, exhibition space, community room, performance area, screenings, special events, festivals, and a sensory garden and allotment created by volunteers.

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the South East, said: “This project has huge potential to entertain, intrigue, and delight. As Margate’s answer to an early Disneyland, the Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to award this substantial investment to Dreamland, and once restored to its former glory it will not only bring alive the historic rides of yesteryear but boost tourism too.”

Dreamland’s origins date back to the 1860s when the site, then known as the Hall by the Sea, was operated by the well-known caterers, Spiers and Pond.  In 1874 the famous circus showman, ‘Lord’ George Sanger took over the site introducing his menagerie of wild and exotic animals.  The site was later taken over by entrepreneur, John Henry Iles in 1919 who spent 20 years developing the site into Dreamland.  The park last operated in 2006 and since then has hosted a number of major events.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr. Bob Bayford, said: “We’re delighted with this news, especially as it completes the funding needed for the first stage of the project. Dreamland is a key site forMargate’s regeneration and that’s why the Council has been working with the Dreamland Trust to bring it back into use. This year is turning out to be a major milestone forMargate’s regeneration, with the opening of Turner Contemporary and the hundreds of thousands of visitors they have bought to the town, the Queen’s visit and now this announcement from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our next job is now to get the Compulsory Purchase Order confirmed, so thatMargatecan be home to a world first that will attract thousands more to the town.”

The HLF funding will be released once the Compulsory Purchase Order on the site has been confirmed.

The works to the Park and Cinema Building have been divided into 5 initial stages, with the first stages consolidating the rides and attractions to the northern portion of the site.

Stage 1 of the first phase of the project involves re-establishing Dreamland as an amusement park including the restoration of the Grade II* listed Scenic Railway to full working condition and the construction of a new modernist style Scenic Railway station to replace the original one destroyed by an arson attack in 2008. Other works include the restoration of the Grade II listed menagerie cages, repairs to the Grade II* listed Dreamland Cinema and creating strong entry points through the Cinema Building and from the car park, a dedicated learning room, exhibition space, interpretation, landscaping works and the creation of an attractive and inviting park environment.

A selection of the restored historic rides collection will be installed in the park along with a mix of replica and hired rides. This approach allows us to preserve and rotate the collection bringing in new attractions each year to keep the offer fresh and exciting to encourage return visitors.

Stage 1 also sees the area to the south and east being brought into use for a mix of temporary rides and for a range of themed events throughout the year, with an area being reserved for overflow parking. The existing car park will be retained and improved. The whole site will be active.  Each subsequent stage will then build upon the preceding stage without requiring extensive abortive works. The phased system provides flexibility allowing us to respond to trends and feedback.

The second phase of the project is the full restoration of theCinemaBuilding, which is subject to funding and the partners are confident this grant award and emerging interest in the project will stimulate further investment in the Project.


We are delighted to announce the arrival of our new Project Director, Mike Nuttall.  Mike has a strong commercial background with a particular focus on leisure, entertainment and tourism led regeneration developments in theUK, working alongside a number of public and private sector partners. He brings with him a wealth of skills essential for taking the Dreamland Project forward.

Of his new appointment Mike said; “I am genuinely excited by the opportunity to help deliver Dreamland and work with the local community and stakeholders to make sure the next, exciting phase of Margate’s regeneration story unfolds successfully. This is all about fun, excitement and ensuring the local community is at the heart of Dreamland”.

Mike’s portfolio includes Managing Director at Apollo Resorts & Leisure Ltd, Managing Director Casinos and International Retail for Ladbrokes plc and Store Operations Director (Dixons) for DSG International Ltd with success in identifying and delivering effective long term regenerations strategies, event and operational planning, year round tourism provision and identifying specific challenges and solutions for sea side resort opportunities.


The Dreamland’s Grade II* listed cinema building is now beginning to shrug off its scaffold cloak; of particular interest is the fin which provides the backdrop to the Dreamland lettering.

Thanet District Council have agreed funding to replace the existing lamps with LED lighting, work which Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd are undertaking.  This means that the new lighting will be more energy efficient with minimal maintenance costs whist providing a more robust and stable solution.

We anticipate seeing the first 5 restored iconic signage letters on the Dreamland Cinema Building fin being test lit on Friday 16 December 2011 – time to be confirmed – but no doubt after sun set.  The sign will be lit nightly thereafter until Sunday 1 January 2012. A fantastic historic opportunity to capture the illuminated Dream coming true!

Remaining works are progressing well, with the unseasonal mild weather enabling the external re-pointing and structural repairs to be pushed along, together with the replacement roof coverings.

The time is soon approaching when we will have power to the cinema organ, at which point we will be inviting David Wattenbach back to visit and report on its current condition.


Battle of Sound 14 December 2011

First up for December is the eagerly anticipated Battle of Sound at the Westcoast Bar & Music Venue, King Street, Margate on Wednesday 14 December 2011 (doors open 6pm, battle commences 7pm) presented by the Dreamland Youth Panel.

After two days of auditions 30 talented young acts were selected to go through to the final being judged by industry professionals.  The lucky winner(s) will receive studio recording time and digital release, make over and promotion package and an opportunity to perform live at another public event.

Apart from showcasing Thanet’s emerging young talent the Battle of Sound provides valuable skills development and raises the aspirations of young people helping them prepare for the world of work.

£2 on the door on the night.

Vintage Pinball Parlour 16-24 December 2011

Back by popular demand is the Vintage Pinball Parlour at the Pie Factory, 5 Broad Street, Margate from 16 to 24 December, open daily, 12-5pm and late night Wednesday 21st December.

This year’s star attraction is the vintage 1968 Basketball arcade game. Other attractions include classic pinball games from the early 1960s to the 1990s and a rock n roll musical selection from the pristine 1963 Rock-Ola Jukebox. Fun for all the family!

Free entry and full disabled access.


An excellent Christmas gift for your loved ones – or just for you!  A rare opportunity to buy Nick Evan’s fabulous book, Dreamland Remembered, at a special purchase price of £10 for a limited period.

Margate’s Dreamland park opened in July 1920 and millions flocked to enjoy its attractions in the decades that followed. A visit to the Kent coast resort wasn’t complete without a ride on the famed Scenic Railway, the Looping Star, the Big Wheel or the dodgem cars.

Dreamland’s trendsetting 1930s cinema led the way in design while the ballroom became famous for dancing and big name music concerts. Its restaurants fed the hordes descending on Margate for their beanfeast outings. Later on, it would hold its own as an exciting theme park.

The resort’s decline in recent years has taken its toll, leaving many yearning for a return to simpler times when candy floss and kiss me quick hats were the order of the day.

This edition of Dreamland Remembered, updated and expanded to celebrate the park’s 90th anniversary, contains a nostalgic collection of nearly 250 illustrations from its earliest days to the latest ideas to create the world’s first amusement of thrilling historic rides.

Normally retailing at £15.99 we are offering a special rate purchase price of £10 available at our events or by post (add £2.50 p&p). please email sarah@savedreamland.co.uk for details on how to order and pay online, or send your cheque, made payable to The Dreamland Trust to Dreamland Remembered, The Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Margate CT9 2BU.  All mail orders by Wednesday 14 December latest to guarantee Christmas delivery.


A BIG THANK YOU to all those wonderful people who helped make the Heritage Lottery Fund site visit and meeting in November a success – they are;

  • Valerie and Harry Kirschner
  • Dave Collard
  • Kapo and Mandy of the Stylish Ice Cream Company
  • Lee and Shaun Collier of Thanet Classics
  • Beeping Bush
  • Graham Ward of Oscar’s Festival Café

And thank you to Thanet College for producing an excellent design for our Vintage Pinball Parlour promotion material – we love the vintage flavour!


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