Page 1 of 11

Off Topic - Pleasureland Southport to close

PostPosted: 05 Sep 2006, 20:31
by David Ellis
I have heard it on the ECC list and on UKRIDES that Pleasureland is to close at the end of the season. Apparently the park says it is no longer viable.

The shame is that the park is home to two wooden coasters, which could be lost for good.

I know it is not Dreamland-related, but sad news for the UK coaster world indeed.


PostPosted: 05 Sep 2006, 20:50
by David Ellis
Just found out that the closure has taken place TODAY with immediate effect... ... t=50364661

I was hoping to get up there to get some footage of the wooden coasters...real shame :cry:


PostPosted: 05 Sep 2006, 22:20
by Jim Douglas Jr.
OOPS! Edited. See post below.

Correct link:

PostPosted: 05 Sep 2006, 22:54
by Mancfire
Hi there,

Think you got a bit confused Jim - Pleasureland was only OWNED by Blackpool Pleasure Beach - it is a park just down the road from BPB - Southport Pleasureland have their own website at

BPB has loads of woodies and still is operational - hopefully for many more decades to come! It is the king of UK amusement parks, just a shame it's managing director doesn't have the faith in the smaller sister park at Southport that her late and great father Geoffrey Thompson had.


PostPosted: 05 Sep 2006, 22:56
by uvegotmale2000
wow thats a bolt from the blue
i was only there 2 weeks ago and it was really busy
they had a great new rollercoaster there i think about a year old and was was very busy dont understand that

wild mouse was looking very shaky,mind you it is very old,think it was orginally moved from great yarmouth

it would be a shame to lose several old rides which are based there

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 10:17
by uvegotmale2000
this is from the offical site

Welcome to the official home of Pleasureland Southport. You will find up-to-date information on all the events we have planned, our opening times and wristband prices - as well as some fun and games!

Please Note: The Fun House will remain trading.

It is with regret that the Directors of Pleasureland Ltd announce the closure of their Pleasureland Amusement Park. We are extremely saddened to have to make this announcement, especially as our hard-working and loyal team here has helped us so much in our endeavours over the years.

Pleasureland has proved unsustainable as a ride park, despite our repeated significant investments in capital attractions. These include the £5million TRAUMAtizer roller coaster, the Space Shot vertical drop ride, and the Casablanca Family Entertainment Centre, none of which sadly has generated a return on capital.

It must be acknowledged that the UK theme park industry as a whole is facing increased competition from publicly-funded and lottery-funded attractions which have significantly distorted the visitor attractions market. This situation has been compounded by our weekend trading now competing with extended Sunday shopping rules and Sunday sporting events.

We recognise that Pleasureland has long been an integral part of the resort and we will be working closely with Sefton Council to discuss a practicable future for the site. Our immediate efforts will now be with our staff; our Human Resources team will be working together with external agencies to help and advise them as much as we possibly can, at what is a difficult time for all of us involved.

6th Sep 2006

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 10:18
by furie
With the general removal of rides very subtly over the last little while, and the way things have changed, it was clearly only a matter of time.

Geoffry seemed to have some grand plans for Southport, and I remember in 2004(?) when a large set of Jurrasic Park style gates arrived opening onto the old zoo site. They promised something huge for the next season. It was only a month or so later that Geoffry sadly passed away. The plans for that area were seemingly scrapped, and it opened as a "paintball" arena this year. The other two new attractions this year were a very poor "chairoplane", and a hand restored ferris wheel (with a spinning base).

To keep this kind of on topic, Southport was a very similar park to Dreamland. Certainly they've seen very similar rides over the years.

There was a "travelling" Scenic Railway opened in 1922 (removed in 1946). The River Caves are a classic much like, and of a similar age, to the ones ripped out of Dreamland.

In the 80's, Southport also had a "Looping Star" of the same, or similar, type to the one everyone loved at Dreamland. Silcocks used to run half the park with "fairground" attractions, while the permanent rides were run by Pleasure Beach Ltd. It used to be a heady mix of bright lights and loud music, interspersed with wonderful, classic old rides. When Pleasure Beach took control, they completely renovated the park. It lost it's atmosphere, but became much more family friendly.

The Suspended Looping Coaster and shot tower don't really interest me, but Southport had the following rides worth remembering:

- Cyclone. Classic, late 20's woody with the most twisted hill ift, and slowest turnaround ever seen. The brakes on the station were still operated by hand.

- King Solomon's Mines. One of three remaining wooden wild mouse coasters in the world. Moved from Morecombe (not Yarmouth) when it shut, this is an evil ride and well worth preserving. Modern WIld Mouse coasters have nothing on this baby.

- Caterpillar ride. Originally built by a local engineer, this was made for Belle Vue in Manchester in the 1920's. It's a circular train, on an undulating track. After a couple of minutes, a cover raises over you, sealing you into a canvas "cocoon". My first memory of any ride is this one, whileit was at Belle Vue. It moved to Southport in around 1980 when Belle Vue closed.

- Helter Skelter. The ONLY helter skelter in the world where you land into a smooth wooden bowl at the bottom. Unique, and removed at the start of this season for "reasons unknown".

Sandstorm. The original Round-up ride from Blackpool. Moved three seasons ago to Southport. It stood in the dome at Blackpool for over 30 years, and was still running well at Southport.

Wildcat. Standard Pinfari affair, but the oldest operating one in the country. One of the first steel coasters to arrive in the country.

Fun House. This is still operating! It's a minature version of the old fun house at Blackpool, with centrifuge, spinning barrel, and slippery spinning disk. Plus moving stars, falling walkways, and everythnig else you come to expect from a classic, 60 year old plus fun house. I believe this is the last one in the country.

River Caves. I mentioned these above, but they are a classic, old set of River Caves. Revamped last year to a new Dinosaur theme, I have a lot of fond memories of riding this.

Ther emay be other rides that people remember, but for me, these are the rides that will be missed. KSM could be transported elswhere, it's already made the move to Southport. Cyclone I doubt will go anywhere though other than the fire. It's a good little coaster, but by no means a real classic. The Pinfari will likely be melted down for the scrap, and the Caterpillar ride will go the same way. River Caves will fall under the demolishers bulldozer and the other "assets" sold. If the land is redeveloped as commercial land, I can see a new owner taking on the Fun House though. In this day and age of "Wacky Warehouses", this would make a good expansion to a Brewsters style pub, or on that kind of faceless estate we see everywhere. Fingers crosseed on that front at least.

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 11:00
by Neil
This is a real shame, and one I do not believe is justifiable. To say that no one will want to buy it when the park has not been put on the open market is very negative. If they don't want it they ought to be trying to sell it. It certainly can't be a coincidence that when it was owned by Geoffrey Thompson there was a steady rate of investment and grand plans for the zoo area, and immediately after Amanda Thompson takes over the park is run down.

I believe the Flying Skooters didn't open this year so they can be modified to meet new HS standards. With what we know now this seems a little unlikely. Also when I went last year a lot of rides were mysteriously closed.

So since Amanda Thompson took over:
-Many job loses at the Pleasurebeach
-A lot of ride removals at the Pleasurebach
-Pleasurebeach gets rid of park merhcandise
-Unpopular new pricing at the Pleasurebeach
-Pleasureland Southport closed

but it's all right because Blackpool Pleasurebeach is getting a new ride.
Clearly Amanda Thompson may not feel Southport has much future in its toursit industry, but interestingly isn't someone else building a new water park near Pleasureland?

I realise I'm being very critical without knowing all the ins and outs, however I'm finding all this too much to take excuses serously. If they opened for the remainder of the season I dare say that visitor numbers would be up with people wanting a last ride.

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 11:34
by furie
Even if Southport "ticked over", I believe Amanda would get rid. She doesn't seem to care too much about heritage, rides or putting in any effort.

I (used to) go to Southport two or three times a year since minor_furie hit 5. We had great days out there with my parents (from Cheshire, so it's local).

The thing is, since Pleasurebeach took over the whole park, it became a really popular place. I've queued a long time for some of the rides, and it was always busy. Amazingly, since Amanda took the reins, it's suddenly dead an unviable, despite "capital investment". I don't know exactly what the write-off period is for a 5 million pound coaster, but I'd think it's 10 years or longer.

Of course, we don't have the facts and figures. We don't know the real ins and outs. It's just that Geoffrey had definite plans to expand Southport and keep the visitor numbers up. Amanda didn't leave it to rot, she just washed her hands of the place.

The new water park is directly opposite the park, and looks good for a 2007 opening. I'll bet they're gutted now, as a lot of their trade will have come from people visiting Pleasureland (and vice versa).

All you can hope for is that the council understand that this is a viable area for a park, and allow for the ride plots to be sold on.

The Flying Skooters were one of the best rides there. I didn't realise they were down due to H&S.

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 11:48
by Neil
I agree about the waterpark owner being furious. The town (unlike the majority of seaside towns) does seem genuinely determined to build on their tourism. I think I'm right in saying that they recently renovatted the pier which has helped the town bring in more tourists. Now a water park is being set up. The problem is that without the jewel in the crown all the town's other assets could soon go down the pan too. I would even go as far as to say that's it's hard to see now how the waterpark is likely to make much money.

Another interesting rumour I've heard is that Camelot are hoping the decreased competition will allow them to increase their visitor numbers next year. If so there is a small possibility the park could stay open afterall.

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 12:52
by uvegotmale2000
i hope they find a new owner for 2007 season would be a shame to lose another important and historic park

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 13:05
by furie
Neil, you're right. The local council take tourism very seriously. The new pier is awesome, if you like that modern jazzy stuff ;) :lol:

Southport have worked for a long time now to renovate the sea front. They worked hand in hand with Pleasureland to get it up to the standard they wanted. No more iffy fair-ground, but a pleasantly laid out, clean park. The change they have made in the last ten years is increadible.

I guess that's why the water park went ahead (it's in a prime spot, opposite the park and ride and Pleasureland (which also has a car park). This is the only reason we can hope for somebody to take over. The council will wish to keep this as an attractive tourist attraction. Or maybe they'll listen to the bigwigs and class it as unviable and build an Asda?

The land belongs to the council, the rides belong to PBB. Any new owner wil lhave to be willing to lease the land, and then negotiate the assets off PBB. The cynics amongst you will suggest that PBB wont want another company taking on what is essentially a rival park to Blackpool, so will make it as hard as possible to move into other hands, even if means flattening the lot.

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 13:44
by stuart
While there are lots of similarities between Dreamland and Pleasureland there are also lots of differences.

At Pleasureland the site is owned by the council. At Dreamland the land is owned by companies that want to make as much money as possible by developing the site.

Thanet Council seem to want to change the image of Margate and are all wrapped up in this idea of cafe culture and art. Sefton Council are still very aware why the majority of their tourists visit the area and have ploughed their efforts into major regeneration and facelifts of the seafront.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Sefton Council will be looking for a new company to take over the lease ASAP. They arent just going to leave this site to stand empty for very long as it is so important to the areas economy.

If only TDC were of the same opinion 3 years ago.

PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 14:25
by Sarah
A quick read of Joyland Book's New pages tells you all you need to know about this sorry situation:

"Southport Pleasureland to Expand [13/8/03]
Southport's Pleasureland Amusement Park has submitted a planning application to Sefton Council to build rides on the site of Southport Zoo. The amusement park, which is part of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Group, has recently concluded negotiations with Sefton Council for the acquisition of the zoo and adjoining recreation land and a planning application for the change of use of the zoo to an amusement park was submitted last week. Pleasureland, the fifth most visited amusement park in the UK, has not yet announced what rides are to be built on the site."

If memory serves, this was going to make the park half as big again and was part of the ongoing and consistent investment in the park. Then:

"Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Geoffrey Thompson Dies [12/6/04]"

Which bought any investment in the park to a grinding halt. And then:

"Pleasureland visitors slump [10/8/06]
Visitors to Southport Pleasureland amusement park dropped by 76% last year after the park introduced an admission charge for the first time in its history. In 2004, the park attracted 2.1m visitors, but the £2 charge reduced visitors to 500,000.
A spokesperson for the park said that the reduced visitors was expected, and that this had enabled them to improve the appearance and management of the park. The figures were revealed in Visit Britain's annual tourist attractions survey."

This is nothing to do with viability. And Furie, I don't think it's only the cynics amongst us who will suggest that Pleasure Beach won't want another company taking on a rival park to Blackpool. Of course it won't be sold as a going concern; Amanda might not want Pleasureland but she's not daft enough to shoot BPB in the foot.


PostPosted: 06 Sep 2006, 15:54
by Neil
I agree that this all looks like a big fix, but logically power lies with the staff at Blackpool Pleasurebeach. Normally when there's a large number of redundancies it's soon followed by a strike. If all the permanent staff at Blackpool Pleasurebeach (those that have not yet been got rid of) go on strike the park can't open. This would not only mean tremendous national publicity, but would bring the company to its knees.

If large numbers of staff belong to a union it is possible to do a lot, but unfortunately I'm more left wing than a lot of today's society and many people will not do this. Seriously though, this is a perfect example of why people should belong to a union. I guess some will. I'm sure the union will do all they can, but it's difficult without 100% of staff belonging to it. Anyway, that's enough of my plug for union's. It will be intersting to see how the media, union's and council respond to this.

Realistically if Amanda seriously wanted to sell the park she would not go on about how it's losing money (which I gather is merely a manipulation of statistics) and instead give the place a more glowing a description.