Frontierland Remembered: The Mark Bradley Interview.

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Frontierland Remembered: The Mark Bradley Interview.

Postby Gary » 02 Dec 2012, 22:33

'Frontierland Remembered': The Mark Bradley Interview

Taking over the site name from Andrew Love, Mark Bradley's redesigned and personalised "Frontierland Remembered" website at http://www.frontierland-remembered.co.uk/index.htm has always been a great source of inspiration for themagiceye.

I was therefore happy when in 2010 the opportunity arose for me to interview Mark and he very kindly agreed..


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Image: Mark Bradley at Pleasureland Southport: Frontierland Remembered website

I was born and raised in Leeds, West Yorkshire. I'm 44 years of age (2010) married and have three children. I have worked within the amusement industry for many years since I left school in 1982. I used to repair amusement machines i.e. fruit machines, pintables, video games, pool tables etc. I used to also install these amusement devices in bars, clubs, hotels and arcades.

I was also a DJ for many years, mobile, residency, nightclub and radio.

I have always had a passion and fascination for funfair rides. I always wanted to work on the funfair.

I got my chance back in 1981 (I was 15 years old). A travelling fair arrived in our neighbourhood, and whilst the rides were being built I sat and watched in amazement.

I asked the guy who owned the waltzer (Mathew Morley) if I could spin the cars on the ride when they opened. He asked me if I'd ever spun waltzer cars before. I said no.

He said I'll give you three chances, you fall off once, get back on, fall off twice, get back on, if you fall off a third time then f*** off and don't come back!

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Image: Mathew Morley's Waltzer at Worksop 1978: NFA

Fair enough I thought........I fell off once.....you quickly learn from your mistakes!!

I fell off once when I got stuck between two cars.

I was stood on the outside edge of the platform holding onto one car, waiting for the right moment to spin the car into the dip, the car behind me spun round and knocked me off the machine and I went flying on my hands and knees across the gratings/run ups.

Yes, it hurt, but I picked myself up, brushed myself down and had to wait for the ride to stop before I could get back on! I wasn't going to attempt to try and jump on the ride whilst it was running (like the more experienced lads were doing!).

I enjoyed that summer of 1981 on the fair....getting free rides on all the rides at the fair! Also hopping onto the speedway and waking the platforms on that ride too....that was...erm....interesting!!

That was it until 1990 when I met Marshall Waddington. Waddington's Funfairs pulled into town, I went to the funfair and asked Marshall if I could walk his waltzer platforms and spin the cars.....he allowed me to do so.

In 1992 I was working at another amusement company in Leeds when one day Marshall turned up with his brother-in-law to buy some fruit machines from my boss. He remembered me from 2 years previously.

We used to see each other on and off over a period of about 3 years, then I used to drive to the various fairgrounds where Marshall was. I was basically a paid part-time worker for him. I only ever travelled about 8 times with them over a year, but I still helped out whenever he wanted me to.

He used to phone me and ask if I would help pull down the rides at a fairground. I learnt a lot about how the machines work, what's involved with the building and pulling down of the machines, the health and safety aspect of the job......very very fascinating stuff indeed.

I'm still in contact with Marshall and his family even though I've now moved to Mallorca.

(I also built Marshall's website too http://www.dodgemhireyorkshire.co.uk)

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Mark you run the Frontierland remembered website..Why is Frontierland so important to you?

Oh, Frontierland is a very permanent part of my life. Most of my memories are of Morecambe and Frontierland. My parents first started taking me to Morecambe when I was about 3 years of age, I've grown up with Morecambe being a big part of my life.

Even though I now live in Mallorca I will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart for Morecambe and Frontierland.

Ask anyone who used to visit Westgate Amusements, Fun City, Morecambe Pleasure Park and Frontierland why the place is so special to them, and you'll probably find the same answer time and time again, I think it's the magic of the place, the environment, the atmosphere, the rides, the history.

If I had the finances, I would purchase the land that Frontierland once stood on, and I'd re-build the rides that once operated there! My kids missed out on the fun and thrills of Frontierland, all they've got now is the photo's which everyone can see on my website. They keep asking lots of questions about what the place was like.

It's a real shame that Frontierland is no more.....but without getting into the politics of why the park died, it would seem pretty obvious from the articles I've read all over the internet that Lancaster City Council have no interest in promoting Morecambe's tourism or its future.

My website was constructed by myself in an effort to put Frontierland firmly in the spotlight to a worldwide audience. It's primary purpose is to bring back memories to the thousands of people who visited the place in its many guises over the years.

I would gladly be active in ANY activities that would see Frontierland being resurrected - I wonder if Morecambe will ever have a purpose built amusement park again the future? I sure hope so!

I created the Frontierland Remembered website in February 2010.

I decided that I need a new project to work on as I enjoy designing and building websites.

I bought some new web authoring software and built a couple of websites for people. The bug had bitten me big time, and so I decided to build a website totally dedicated to the memory of Frontierland.

I did some research online and found that there wasn't a dedicated website to the remembrance of Frontierland.

I remember quite a few years ago there was a particular site hosted on the Yahoo/GeoCities free webspace dedicated to Frontierland, this site was built by Andrew Love if I remember rightly.

The site was good but it just left the visitor wanting MORE!!

I remember Andrew posting a message on the site asking if anyone would like to take over the running of the site as his daily life schedule was quite hectic and he no longer had the time to run the site himself.

I sent him an e-mail asking him if he would like me to take over, but my mail got bounced back to me as "un-delivered!"

I can only assume that he no longer had that e-mail address, and that the message on the site had been there for quite some time and was therefore really out of date.

In February 2010 I searched for Andrew's website but couldn't find it online, so I decided to build a brand new website dedicated to Frontierland. I found a lot of information online and I also had help from people who used to work at Morecambe Pleasure Park, Fun City & Frontierland.

When the site went live I was surprised at the number of visitors the site attracted within the first few hours!

Over the following days the traffic was getting really heavy, so heavy in fact that the hosting company's server automatically shut down and denied any further access to my site!!

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I checked the visitor statistics on the website and found that the volume of traffic had exceeded the bandwidth limit for that month!! I contacted the hosting company and asked them to increase the bandwidth limit, which they did.

The day after I'm back on the phone to the hosting company AGAIN asking them to increase the limit again as the site had gone into meltdown.

Then Greg Lambert of the local Morecambe newspaper The Visitor http://www.thevisitor.co.uk ran a story on my website, that was it, the website went into meltdown again on the night that newspaper was released!

I had to again ask the hosting company to increased the bandwidth limit again!!

Things have settled down now after the mad frenzy, but the site is still getting lots of visitors on a daily basis from people all around the world. I have received many lovely e-mails from visitors to the site.

The site is borne of my own hard work, dedication and money. A few people have generously donated towards the running costs of the site, of which I am truly grateful. But we still need regular donations coming in to help keep Frontierland Remember online for many, many years to come.

Regarding your visits what for you were the "Golden Years" for The Pleasure Park / Frontierland?

Oh there are so many memories I have of the place.

My earliest memories are when I was about 7 years of age, I remember loads of old rides and attractions (you'll find my memories of these on my website).

The best years for me were when I was a youngster and the park was called Morecambe Pleasure Park.

Then all the decade of the 1980's.

All the 1990's. In fact, just simply loved the place with a passion under all it's different names.

So you see, I don't really have any particular "golden years".....they were ALL golden years!

..and your favourite rides from that period?

Favourite rides? Oh too many to list.

It was nice to see that Frontierland kept some of it's traditional old rides for the kids like the turtle chase, the boats, the rockets. I used to like the flying rockets which were positioned on top of the round arcade in the centre of the park near the dodgems and wild mouse (they were just like Sir Robert Maxim's flying machines at Blackpool).

I loved the Caterpillar which was situated in front of Noah's Ark (there's a photo of it on my website under Peter Kane's photo's). In fact al my ride memories can be found on my memories page on the website.

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Image: Noah's Ark, Frontierland: Frontierland Remembered

Beside the park, what else did Morecambe offer up as a holiday resort back then?

Oh good question.

I remember coach after coach after coach coming down Morecambe seafront packed with holiday makers.

There was also a smaller funfair behind Woolworths further down the seafront. My parents used to take me and my sisters to the Regent Caravan Park on Westgate Road every year for our summer holidays.....happy days.

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Image: Regent Caravan Park: http://caravanning4u.co.uk/campsites/cumbria.htm

I met many new friends on each visit. Morecambe used to have lots of different attractions and activities on the seafront back in the 1970's, there was always something going on.

Why oh why did Lancaster City Council decide to turn its back on Morecambe as a seaside resort?

Nobody wants retail outlets on the seafront! We ALL have those in our own cities! We go to the seaside to get away from all the shops!

What are your memories of the 150ft Wheel that came (and caused so much controversy?)

I remember the big wheel being erected.

I think it was in 1980 or 1981. That was the biggest wheel I've EVER seen in my life!

I've seen some big wheels over the years but they're all small compared to the monster that was built at Morecambe Pleasure Park. I remember my parents taking me and my sisters on it not long after it opened for business.

The views at the top of that monster wheel were absolutely astounding, you could see for miles!

Nobody really give a hoot about the houses next to the theme park, and by this I mean the residents that lived there were complaining that people on the wheel could see straight into their bedrooms etc. As if anyone wanted to look into houses on their way up to the summit of the wheel!

I would've loved to have been part of the crew constructing that wheel at the time but I was only a young kid, 2 years off leaving school.

I always fancied taking on the task of painting the Cyclone (Texas Tornado)....I would've loved that job!!

Around 1980 The Diamond Horseshoe Bingo Centre was replaced by The Fun City Indoor Amusements. What are your memories of these places?

I remember the Diamond Horseshoe Bingo hall....that's it. I don't think I ever went into the place....if I did, then I was very young and probably went in with my parents. I remember the Fun City indoor amusements....I used to love playing on the machines in there.

My favourite machine in that place was a very early video game called "Boot Hill"....a great game (well it was at the time!)

Mark, did you ever work at Frontierland?

Unfortunately not, Although I ALWAYS wanted to work at Frontierland.

I lived in Leeds but I was prepared to move to Morecambe many years ago when I was in my teens if the opportunity of a job at Frontierland ever became available.

I wouldn't have enjoyed working in a catering unit or a souvenir unit.

I would have loved to have operated the rides or even been involved with ride maintenance. I always fancied approaching the manager at Frontierland and saying to him "You buy the paint, the brushes, the rollers and cleaning stuff etc. and I'll set to and paint the Texas Tornado structure.....I would've loved to have done that years ago!!

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Oh how I miss the funfair life. The atmosphere, the thrills, the excitement, the smell of the diesel engines, the big fancy, lovely decorated lorries, the well maintained funfair machines, the smell of the hot onions drifting across the fairground, the lights, the sounds, the music, the screams.

I have so far pulled down / built up the following machines:

Waltzer (many times)
Paratrooper
Dodgems
Flying Coaster (Ski Jump ride)
Juvenile rides (various types)
Ghost Train
Octopus
Miami
Fun houses

I've also been involved in most aspects of fairground life from repairing lights on rides, rewiring lighting circuits and sound systems etc. Supplying music and jingles to ride operators.

Oh I love it all.......I think I must've been a traveller in a previous life!!!

Many Thanks to Mark for the interview.

Mark Bradley's great site Frontierland Remembered can be found at http://www.frontierland-remembered.co.uk
Please pass through the turnstiles if you are riding again.
Gary
 
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