Jian Wei and I recently escaped the city for a sunny Saturday in the Victorian seaside town of Margate. We were keen to visit Dreamland, a traditional pleasure park that celebrates the Golden Age of the British seaside holiday.
The site of the park was first developed as pleasure gardens in the 1880s, complete with Gothic walls and a a menagerie, however the Dreamland name was not used until 1920 when the park’s Grade II listed Scenic Railway was opened. At the height of its popularity in the 1960s, Dreamland attracted more than two million thrill-seekers a year. Sadly, with the ascent of cheap package holidays to warmer destinations, Dreamland fell into a state of disrepair and was subject to a series of devastating arson attacks. The park closed its doors to the public in 2005 and many rides, including the creepy ‘haunted snail’, were sold.
The Dreamland Trust grew out of the campaign to resurrect Dreamland, receiving backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Thanet District Council and the Sea Change Fund. The HemingwayDesign team was appointed to re-imagine and re-brand the park as a nostalgic, family-friendly destination with plenty of retro appeal.
The Scenic Railway will re-open later this year and the handsome Art Deco cinema is set to be renovated in the second stage of the park’s re-imagining. I can’t wait to return and witness Dreamland fully restored to its former glory.
Vintage photographs via The Guardian.
Dreamland, Marine Terrace, Margate, Kent, CT9 1XJ | www.dreamland.co.uk | +44 1843 295887