The Scenic Railway roller coaster at Dreamland Margate, first opened in 1920, is finally back on track after a 12-year battle to save it from demolition.
In 2002, the coaster and the theme park itself were on the brink of being torn down to make way for redevelopment. Determined to save them, Oxfordshire-based planning consultant and visitor attraction owner, Nick Laister, set up the Save Dreamland Campaign.
“In 2001 I was concerned that the future of the Scenic Railway – a remarkable survivor from an early period of amusement park development – was uncertain as whole areas of Dreamland were being taken out of use, ” explains Laister. “I wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and asked them to consider making the roller coaster a listed building. They agreed with me and a year later the Scenic Railway became Grade II listed.”
But, far from securing the ride, it was almost immediately under threat following a sudden announcement that the park was to be closed. Thereafter, the journey was to have as many twists and turns as the Scenic Railway itself including a devastating arson attack which destroyed all the original 1920s trains. In the end, overwhelming support in the UK and across the world attracted £28 million investment from both the public and private sector.
“The reopening of the Scenic Railway is the crowning moment of our 12-year efforts to bring Dreamland back, and I am sure it will delight many new generations of riders, " says Laister.
Dreamland Margate showcases many historic rides including the post-war Cyclone Twist and 1950s Hurricane Jets.