Dreamland Archive: Dreamland Amusement Park, November 2014.

Dreamland Archive: Dreamland Amusement Park, November 2014.

The Dreamland Trust is delighted that heads of terms have been agreed with local company, Sands Heritage Ltd, which will become Dreamland’s new operator if discussions are successfully concluded. This is a significant milestone in what has been a very long journey, and we are very much looking forward to working with the Sands Heritage team to deliver an outstanding visitor attraction.

Things have been happening very quickly over the past few weeks, with visible work starting on the Scenic Railway, the publication of our drawings showing what the park will look like, and the launch of our new branding, all of which can be seen on the brand new Dreamland website at

There is a real sense at The Dreamland Trust that things are falling into place ready for the reopening of the site next year, thanks to the hard working teams at The Dreamland Trust and Thanet District Council.

The Council is now pressing ahead with the other contracts to rebuild the park, including ride restorations and infrastructure refurbishment, which will see the park cleaned up with new landscaping and a complete revamp of the entrance tunnel, with the park being handed over to the operator next year.

Meanwhile, you can find out about the future of Dreamland at the Dreamland Expo, located in the former amusement arcade at the front of the Dreamland Cinema building, which remains open at weekends, so do drop in and meet the Dreamland Trust team.

Nick Laister, Chairman of The Dreamland Trust. 


Dreamland wall painting: Dreamland Archive

Dreamland wall painting: Dreamland Archive

In last month’s newsletter we asked if anyone knew who the mystery artist was who painted the fabulous Jolly Dog painting in the basement of Dreamland’s Grade II*-listed cinema complex, underneath the Visitor & Learning Arcade and Dreamland Expo. Thanks all those who contacted us, we discovered that the artist was, in fact, 97 year-old Vic McCoy.

Mr McCoy was engaged as a freelance artist by Dreamland owner, John Henry Iles, in 1937 to design and produce signage, promotion materials, park installations and set dressing until his retirement in 1967.  We have since visited Vic, at his home, where he shared his story and showed us some of his fabulous artworks, which we have safely documented in the Dreamland Archive.

The image above is part of a decorative scheme featured in the Jolly Dog Bar during the 1950s. The images were painted directly onto the walls and show fine detailing in the dog hair, facial expressions and shadowing creating a dynamic scene and interaction between the humanised dog characters.

Although a freelance artist, Mr McCoy was given a workshop space on the Dreamland site.  One of his early commissions for Dreamland was the 75t long ‘Dreamland Welcomes You’ sign which survives today on the West elevation of the Cinema Complex, overlooking the Arlington site.

The sign was originally produced on paper and pasted onto the building in 1939. Over the summer season the sun bleached the lettering onto the brick work leaving an impression of the sign. John Henry Iles decided to keep the sign and instructed his workman to use this impression as a template to paint the sign directly onto the cinema’s brick work.

The ‘Dreamland Welcomes You’ sign remains in situ today and has, for several decades, been the iconic welcoming beacon at the town’s entry points by road and rail.


Christmas Cracker final

The Dreamland Trust is delighted to announce Private Widdle Social Club’s Christmas Cracker fund raiser in the Arcade at Dreamland.

Christmas comes to Dreamland on Friday 19 December 2014 in the shape of a great big Cracker – PAUL FOOT!

Taking a mini-break from his UK Tour, the cult TV comic (Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Would I Lie to You, 8 Out of 10 Cats), Paul Foot, will host The Private Widdle Social Club’s Christmas Cracker show at the Arcade, Dreamland.

Paul Foot will be joined by favourites, Duo Bogof, Miss Dolly Doowop, Dickie Beau and Bobby the Organ, while a roasty, toasty musical element will be provided by Kent’s premiere alternative folk outfit, Cocos Lovers – unplugged! So – two exclusives, never to be seen elsewhere for Widdle’s Dreamland Christmas Cracker!

Music, laughter, grand raffle prizes, Santa’s Sack and Dolly’s Dance Club will be playing tunes till late, making this THE Christmas Party of the Season!

Tickets now available at Eventbrite at and from the Dreamland Expo in the Visitor & Learning Arcade, Marine Terrace, Margate open on Saturdays and Sundays between 11am and 5pm.

Seated tickets are £18.00 and Standing tickets are £15.00 – book early to bag the best seats in the house.

Dress code: leave your onesie at home.  Club rules, there are no rules.


The Dreamland Trust invites you to join us in a celebration of Dreamland’s past over a weekend of shared experiences, stories, photographs and memorabilia in partnership with the South East Archive of Seaside photography project with special guest appearance from celebrity TV antiques expert, Mark Stacey.

The Dreamland Trust is responsible for connecting people with Dreamland’s rich heritage which dates back to the Great British railway boom of the early 1860s, through ‘Lord’ George Sanger’s 1870s pleasure gardens and menagerie of exotic beasts from all parts of the universe to the opening of John Henry Iles’ Cony Island inspired Dreamland in 1920.

Over the past five years, The Dreamland Trust has been working with the community to build an historic record and archive of Dreamland’s extraordinary past.

Perhaps you, or your family and friends, visited Dreamland during one of its many hey days; maybe you had your first kiss on the Caterpillar ride – a firm favourite with courting couples! There might even be some family cine film in your attic or photographs under the bed?

Did you work in Dreamland or know someone who did? Whatever your experience, whatever your story, whatever you’ve got – we would love to meet you, see your snaps and share those treasured memories!

There is no need to book to take part. This is a free activity taking place between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 22 November 2014 and Sunday 23 November 2014 at the Dreamland Expo in the Visitor & Learning Arcade, Dreamland Cinema, Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent CT9 1JX.




story teller


Half term was busy in the Visitor & Learning Arcade and we would like to thank all the families who came along to take part in our activities – we visited Garlinge and Piggy Bank nurseries to paint faces and tell spooky stories the week before in preparation.  Here are some photos taken during the week:

George Scott who is 9 and from Westbrook won our Spooky Margate prize draw by completing his ghost trail and has received his prize of a gift card and Dreamland goodies, so many congratulations George!

The Dreamland Trust has been busy with other schools, presenting in assemblies at Cliftonville Primary and running a workshop on the animals that Sanger used to keep at the Hall-by-the-Sea at Ellington and Hereson. We are currently working on an exciting project with both Chatham and Clarendon House and St Nicholas at Wade schools and planning dates and activities with various others, so will keep you posted!


The Dreamland Visitor & Learning Arcade winter opening times are as follows:

FREE ENTRY Saturdays and Sundays 11am until 5pm

Open weekdays by appointment and available for pre-booked school visits, community activities, workshops, projects, research, film screenings, presentations and celebrations.

If you or your group would like to book the Arcade for an event or activity, please email us at for more information and to check availability.

Do keep checking our website and fb for up-dates on our winter programme in the Arcade.


Once again, a heartfelt thank you to all our dedicated volunteers and supporters – particularly for helping during half-term family fun week and for supporting the Cabaret of Horrors.


If you would like to make a contribution toward helping The Dreamland Trust to continue delivering our objectives and serve our community, please contact 

The Dreamland Trust is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (06936961) working in partnership with Thanet District Council and awaiting charity status.

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