On the 3 September the Dreamland site passed into the ownership of Thanet District Council – a significant moment in Margate’s history as Dreamland becomes the Peoples’ Park once again.

Community Pay Back young offenders were engaged to help clear the Dreamland car park for re-opening and an eight week survey programme is about to begin.

The high court appeal was heard at the High Court 25 and 26 September and a decision is anticipated within weeks. Meanwhile, Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company (MTCRC) has vacated the site.

The design team were able to visit the site this month for the first time since their appointment. Once the survey reports have been completed and the cost plan reviewed, the project team will be able to finalise the plans and designs for lock down and sign off.

Once the appeal decision has been released we will be opening the gates to Dreamland and inviting all to join us is in marking this milestone event – details will be released at a later date.


The week of the appeal whipped up a real media frenzy. In this instance some of the reporting was both misleading and unbalanced and so we must publically put the record straight!

BBC SE Inside Out programme broadcast on the 25 September misled viewers into believing that the £10m grant money secured for Dreamland, including Sea Change and Heritage Lottery Funding, was to be used to purchase the Dreamland site – this, of course, is not the case.

All secured grants are ringfenced for restoring the Grade II* listed Scenic Railway, Grade II listed menagerie cages, front entrance to the park and bringing back into use the internal café, event and retail spaces under the cinema building, ride restoration, design, branding, content, landscaping, learning and training.

Site purchase costs are a separate matter and currently being negotiated between Thanet District Council and MTCRC.

I’m so glad we’ve cleared that up – moving on!


In September The Dreamland Trust had a series of meetings in Blackpool. This was an opportunity to introduce Dreamland designers, HemingwayDesign, to the Thompson family who own and operate Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the park’s Head Engineer, Steve Hughes and David Cam, Company Secretary and Director.

We also met with the Head of Blackpool Illuminations, Richard Ryan, who took us on a tour of the illuminations depot at Lightworks.

And last week we played host, in Margate, to the Hastings Pier Trust. We look forward to seeing the pier being restored over the next 18 months or so.


We have now surveyed the rides collection on site and can confirm that key rides planned for Phase One are intact and have not been scrapped as initially feared, although parts of some of the rides earmarked for up cycling have gone.

In addition to the remaining rides, we are in the process of acquiring ten historic thrill rides plus two original, iconic rides returning to Dreamland for the opening line up! New additions include:

Austin Car Ride
This is one of the most popular juvenile rides where young children can ‘drive’ a car on their. In 1948 parliament passed an act acknowledging pneumoconiosis in Welsh miners rendering them unable to work in the mines. Chairman of Austin Motors, Leonard Lord, created an employment opportunity for disabled miners to work by building a factory to produce children’s pedal cars in the Austin style – the Austin J40. Showmen came up with the idea of fixing the cars onto roundabouts making the J40 accessible to many children.

Muffin the Mule
This ride was built around 1949 by R J Lakin & Company of Streatham for S & J Thurston and decorated by chief artist, Edwin Hall. Originally this ride had streamlined cars in which children could ride, but in the 1950s the popularity of a certain children’s television puppet saw the cars changed to Muffin the Mules.

Double Decker Rocket Ride
An unusual children’s ride which in addition to the conventional platform mounted toys at ground level, also features an upper deck of Rocket cars adding double the fun! The idea was patented by north eastern showman, James A Crow, in the late 1940s, and the rides were built under licence by Orton & Spooner of Burton on Trent.

Hurricane Jets
The delight of this 1950s ride is that the rider can control the elevation of the cars by the operation of a joystick. Built by the Langwheels Company of Middlesex, these popular rides could be found in many amusement parks, including Dreamland, although the one we have acquired has spent its life on the travelling fairs.

The Historic Rides Collection is held in safe, off-site storage. The opening rides line-up will be supported by visiting and guest vintage rides and attractions.


This month our volunteer archiver, Suzannah Foad, packed up the Dreamland archive and shipped it off to the South East Archive of Seaside (SEAS) Photography project where Dr Karen Shepherdson will oversee the creation of a Dreamland online portal on the SEAS website.

SEAS is located at Canterbury Christ Church University at Broadstairs. The Archive focuses on digitally archiving substantial historical seaside collections, which have originated on the South East’s coast including, quiet naturally, that of Dreamland.

And very timely this is too because the latest donations to SEAS have come from Mrs June Pratt of Margate and provide wonderful insight into Dreamland’s past. June inherited the photographs from her father, Derek Dolding. Derek, as many will know, was the former leader of Thanet District Council and when Bembom Brothers took charge of the Dreamland site in 1981 he acquired from Bemboms a series of extraordinary images featuring Dreamland’s lion tamer.

At the time the photographs were heading for the skip, but fortunately Derek made a timely intervention and saved them from certain destruction. On retirement Derek moved to France and took the pictures with him storing them for many years in a disused chicken shed! Sadly, Derek died last year and June, along with her sister, recovered the images and brought them home to Margate.

June very generously allowed the Archive to make high resolution digital copies, providing a digital safety net for the future and allowing access by all through the SEAS’ website at For further information please visit the website: or twitter: @seasphotography.


Dreamland HQ was all of a flutter this summer when Hartswood Films began filming ITV’s new comedy drama, Edge of Heaven, outside our offices!

Writer Robert Evans (Stella, Sadie J) created the idea with Paul McKenzie. The series, which charts life at Margate’s finest 1980s inspired B&B stars Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners) as Alfie, a man with his life and future in Margate all planned out ahead of him, until his fiancée Carly (Some Girls) leaves him at the altar.

Broadcast is scheduled for February 2014 – look out for scenes set in and around Dreamland! Wonder if the cast will come to Dreamland’s grand opening, hmm…?


Canterbury Christ Church University, The University of the Arts London Photography and the Archive Research Centre at the London College of Communication (PARC) are pleased to announce that registration is now open for a two-day, international conference in the Winter Gardens, Margate on the 9 and 10 November, 2013.

Nostalgias: Visualising Longing explores the multiple concepts of nostalgia and how longing manifests itself within contemporary culture. It will examine, analyse and interpret the complexities of nostalgia and nostalgic sensibilities within art, media and material culture.

Nostalgia is often viewed as a form of yearning for another place or time; it has been identified as a way of managing loss, a marketing device and a tool of propaganda, by making reference to the past as a means to shape the future. Recently, the cultural function of nostalgia has been a subject of critical debate. In response, the conference will consider nostalgias different functions across a range of art and media based practices. Areas of exploration will include: photography, film, television, music, archives, consumer culture, psychology and social media.

The conference weekend begins with welcome drinks and a private view of the conference exhibition on Friday 8 November, followed by a full conference programme on the Saturday and Sunday 9 and 10 November. A conference dinner will take place on the Saturday evening at the Walpole Bay Hotel.

For more information please see the website:

We’re definitely going!


We are delighted to flag up a forthcoming Dreamland fundraising art auction being organised by our good friends, Fontaine Decorative, on Saturday 16 November 6pm-9pm.

Celebrity TV auctioneers, Mark Stacey and Mark Hills, will be auctioning donated artworks, amusement park paraphernalia plus one or two Dreamland artefacts.

Tickets cost £25 each and include a glamerous1930s style champagne and canapés reception accompanied by live music, followed by a discussion between Mark Hill and Mark Stacey on art deco design followed by the auction all set in Dreamland’s derelict 1930s Grade II* listed art deco cinema building. Tickets available from:

Fontaine Decorative Telephone 01843 220974 or Mobile 07855 360475

Also in November, we are planning to open the gates to the park to invite people in to see the site for the first time since it closed to the public – a unique photo opportunity and a memorable experience to be shared.

And following the opening of the park we are inviting all our wonderful volunteers, supporters and partners to join us for The Big Clear – we’re rolling up our sleeves and pulling up the weeds – can’t wait to get going!

We’ll confirm dates and details of both the Key to the Gate and The Big Clear days shortly.

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