Margate’s Dreamland amusement park

DESIGN/3 JUN 2015/



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Margate’s Dreamland amusement park is set to reopen on 19 June with a new look by London-based designer Wayne Hemingway

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Dreamland amusement park in the seaside resort of Margate reopens on 19 June following an 11-year long local campaign to save it from becoming yet another boring retail and commercial development. Originally opened in 1920 on the site of a former pleasure park owned by circus impresario George Sanger, Dreamland is the oldest surviving amusement park in Britain. At its peak in the 60s, it attracted 2.5 million visitors a year. The town and the park’s steady decline began in the 70s as cheap flights encouraged Brits to holiday abroad instead of at home.
Despite being filled with classic and historic amusement rides, including the UK’s oldest roller coaster, dodgems, a helter skelter and a ferris wheel, it will be anything but a traditional heritage theme park says London-based designer Wayne Hemingway. One of his favourite rides – the Wedgwood ‘teacups’ – says it all. Decorated in the British company’s classic off-white and blue, it features a youth culture timeline of mods, beatniks, rockers, new romantics and ravers painted on the cups’ sides by one of the ceramics manufacturer’s artists.
Hemingway worked on the park’s vintage-styled redesign with his wife Gerardine and son Jack. He believes his team won the competition because they challenged the brief. ‘We knew this had to appeal beyond the heritage community; it had to feel of the now while respecting the past.’ He calls this ‘a magpie approach’ and adds that, ‘when everything is new it can never be cool.’
The result is a quirky, witty and Hemingway hopes ‘subversive’ take on the British seaside. Benches, tables, bar furniture and even memorabilia have been crafted out of wood salvaged from the park’s Grade II listed scenic railway, which was badly damaged in an arson attack in 2008. The park’s branding, signage and uniforms are defined by an off-sherbet colour palette of turquoise- and lime-greens, electric yellow and antique pink that could easily be the stripes on a typical English ‘stick of rock candy.’ A design that ‘has a timeless aesthetic you can’t quite place.’
As well as 17 rides, the 16-acre site will contain shops and restaurants, a nostalgic roller disco and, come Spring 2016, a 1,600-capacity concert hall (that hosted the likes of The Who and The Rolling Stones in the 1960s). Renovation of the park’s seafront art deco building with its alluring neon-edged fin tower and faรงade – and a 2,200-seater cinema within – is slated for 2017. Margate is getting its oomph back.




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7 responses to “Margate’s Dreamland amusement park

  1. So many happy memories of Dreamland in the 1960s, glad to see this xxx

    • penelopephoebe

      I just hope this regeneration of Margate continues, Sarah.

      • Me too, it sorely needs it. The village ran a charabanc to Canterbury a few weeks back and I did consider jumping a service bus but as we only had four hours there I decided against it. Would love to see the Grotto again though

  2. Sounds interesting Pen , I do hope this continues always good to see this kind of thing. Margate well done I wish you luck you . Hugs to you Pen enjoy your weekend xx

  3. What a fantastic posting and Dreamland
    at Margate is definitely the place to be when
    the sun is shining ๐Ÿ™‚ The restoration projects
    that are pushed ahead and completed adds
    character and shows how much an old seaside
    town has to offer. I hope that you will be
    taking in the views and perhaps even riding
    some of the crowd pleasing rides ๐Ÿ™‚ I love your
    posting Penny and it is good to see you here
    posting again, yes I know I am a stranger to
    these parts of late but I will be coming back
    my sweet and dear friend ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a beautiful
    rest of Sunday and of course, have a lovely
    week to follow ๐Ÿ™‚

    Andro xxx

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