Clacton Pier During the 70s and 80s

The Great British Seaside Resort: sun, sand, piers, funfairs and donkey rides. But that is only part of the attraction. If you love being beside the seaside, talk about it here!

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Postby dirkthedaring71 » 20 Mar 2009, 20:36

Some fantastic information has been posted on here since my last visit and a lot of it brings back fond memories :)

I was brought up in clacton and i used to love visiting the pier every saturday and getting a £3 wristband which not only let you go on all the rides from opening until close but also got you in to see the killer whales, ice skating and a visit to the circus at the end of the pier, talk about value!! This was in the early eighties.
I remember the pieces of the corkscrew being driven onto the pier and assembled. Those were exciting times thats for sure and though i wasn't the first to ride it i did get on the second or third lot. On opening day they spent the first few hours sending it round and round with sandbags in the seats and then they took those out and put the pier staff in for a few times before the public could ride.

In the t shirt shop that is still there to this day they used to sell a rather snazzy t shirt which had " i survived the clacton pier whirlwind" on the front with a picture of the ride itself. It was my most treasured item for many a year. As another poster said, there were water slides installed in the ex killer whale pool in about 1987 but i think they only lasted one season before being sold off. This is when the pier started to go downhill fast and it is sad to see the state it is in now despite Harrison promising to bring it back to its former glory.

The pavillion and the bucking bronco ( 50p a go if i remember correctly) was another great place. I used to love the wild west shooting range that they had there. Unbelievably they still manufacture a similar machine to this day but it is not quite as flashy as the original. There is one upstairs in magic city and another at great yarmouth pleasure beach.

Being from clacton a trip to great yarmouth was pretty rare and when the chance came you had to take it. I once spent 3 hours in the boot of my friends parents car ( 8 people in the car total) just to spend an hour at the pleasure beach. It was in the peak of summer and we had to stop a few times so i could be sick but it was worth it.

Does anyone remember the fantastic scalextric sets they used to have at clacton butlins? They were the bigest i have ever seen and they also had radio controlled tanks there as well.
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Postby Paul281 » 20 Mar 2009, 22:53

dirkthedaring71 wrote:Some fantastic information has been posted on here since my last visit and a lot of it brings back fond memories :)

I was brought up in clacton and i used to love visiting the pier every saturday and getting a £3 wristband which not only let you go on all the rides from opening until close but also got you in to see the killer whales, ice skating and a visit to the circus at the end of the pier, talk about value!! This was in the early eighties.
I remember the pieces of the corkscrew being driven onto the pier and assembled. Those were exciting times thats for sure and though i wasn't the first to ride it i did get on the second or third lot. On opening day they spent the first few hours sending it round and round with sandbags in the seats and then they took those out and put the pier staff in for a few times before the public could ride.



In the t shirt shop that is still there to this day they used to sell a rather snazzy t shirt which had " i survived the clacton pier whirlwind" on the front with a picture of the ride itself. It was my most treasured item for many a year. As another poster said, there were water slides installed in the ex killer whale pool in about 1987 but i think they only lasted one season before being sold off. This is when the pier started to go downhill fast and it is sad to see the state it is in now despite Harrison promising to bring it back to its former glory.

The pavillion and the bucking bronco ( 50p a go if i remember correctly) was another great place. I used to love the wild west shooting range that they had there. Unbelievably they still manufacture a similar machine to this day but it is not quite as flashy as the original. There is one upstairs in magic city and another at great yarmouth pleasure beach.

Being from clacton a trip to great yarmouth was pretty rare and when the chance came you had to take it. I once spent 3 hours in the boot of my friends parents car ( 8 people in the car total) just to spend an hour at the pleasure beach. It was in the peak of summer and we had to stop a few times so i could be sick but it was worth it.

Does anyone remember the fantastic scalextric sets they used to have at clacton butlins? They were the bigest i have ever seen and they also had radio controlled tanks there as well.


I remember going on the Corkscrew for the first time, it was the summer of 1984. I also remember the t-shirt shop as well. My shirt had "Danger, curry at work!" on it.

On the right hand side as you go on the pier, there was a stall that did engraving. I bought a silver mens bracelet and had my name engraved on it. It's still at my mum's somewhere.

The slide into the whale pool. I forgot about that! My mum and dad bought buy me a pair of trunks and a towel from Woolies so I could go on it.

The wild west shooting game at the Pavillion was called Stagecoach if I remember rightly. There used to be one on Felixstowe pier too.

The pavillion had the best games before they filled it with penny pushers and fruit machines.

I spent a week at Butlins in Clacton in 1980 on a schools venture week. It was my first holiday without any family being there. I was homesick, especially at night, but I always remember the arcade they had there.

The slot car layout was in a room which sold those old fashioned plaster, painted pirate heads that were popular in the 70's.
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Re: Wow ... that is so spooky.

Postby Paul281 » 20 Mar 2009, 22:55

FATBOY wrote:
Snowball wrote:Hi again all,

Paul281 ... wow, your memories of trips to the seaside are on a par with mine. Especially being scared witless of the giant in the cowboy hat, red shirt, black waistcoat blue jeans and holding a big brown club at Yarmouth pleasure beach. That was still there in around 2000 but I believe it was taken down in around 2001 (when the local council started to invest a few million to tart up the promenade).

Also, the mechanical bull at the arcade in Clacton!!! Forgot all about that ... lol. Many a good laugh was had watching my bro and sis falling off only after a few seconds ride. Also, happened to remember there being a mechanical coin-op laughing clown holding a pie in each hand in a glass enclosure being to the right of the entrance to the arcade outside the pier. More and more memories now flooding back ;-)

Being from Ipswich myself, I probably spent most of my time at Manning's amusements at Felixstowe ... from the days of the original wooden red roller coaster being to the left of the main Manning's entrance (1983 or so) to the bright blue steel coaster being put in it's place a few years later.

Look forward to seeing more nostalgia soon ........

Chaaaaaaaaaars.


is this the bloke your on about :wink: he used to scare the sh*t out of me too! but as the picture shows, i always felt safer when i was with my big bruv!

Image

How can you post a picture directly on here without a link? Could anyone help me please?
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Postby EAS » 21 Mar 2009, 09:09

Paul - you need to post pictures on an external site such as Photobucket or Flickr and then you get a 'code' to post here. They are free to join.

A quicker way of doing it is by using Photogalaxy, which needs no registration:

http://host.photogalaxy.net/

Click 'browse', which should take you to where your pictures are stored on your computer. Choose the pic, and 'upload'. You will then see a choice of three boxes - the one saying Forum BB Code is what you need.

Click on the box, which should turn it blue, use the copy function on your computer, then paste the code in the box where you write your posts.

Image
[Open Image] [Hosted by PhotoGalaxy.com]


You will need to have the right file size, which is where Photobucket comes in handy; if your pictures are too big they won't work on Photogalaxy, but Photobucket can shrink to fit. It takes a little more playing round with though to get used to, and they keep updating the software and functions which at times makes for a little confusion (or maybe I'm just easily confused).

You can play around and use the 'Preview' button for posts until you are happy you have got it right before pressing 'Submit'.

A small word of warning: a right click on pictures and a look at 'Properties' brings more information about source, so take care that the original filename isn't something that you don't want the world to see (mine says 'Coasters', but if I had called the folder 'My dirty weekend in Blackpool with ****' that info would be available to view...)

Also - if you register for one of the sites like Photobucket and use your real name that will be displayed also, so use an alias if that's a problem.

PS the 'National Historic Marker' was a publicity invention of Geoffrey Thompson for Blackpool Pleasure Beach and has no national significance at all!
Ferengi Rules of Acquisition: Rule 76. Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies.
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Steel Stella

Postby Chief Engineer » 26 Mar 2009, 23:28

It has been great reading about everyone’s memories about Clacton Pier, I have worked there for over 20 years now, although have enjoyed the Pier from my early teens. My nick will probably give you a clue what I do.

I am hoping to give any help to others who are researching the Pier’s history plus post up some information myself on some of the facts or myths that crop up about the Pier.

Here is something you early Roller Coaster enthusiast might enjoy, sadly its only a very short snippet of damaged 8mm film, but what a view from the top of the ‘Steel Stella’ as you reach the top of the climb and take the first drop. It certainly brought back memories of my early teens and going on that ride for the first time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cseic72nXw

Enjoy
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Postby FATBOY » 27 Mar 2009, 18:08

nice to have you onboard mr engineer! ive got so many questions to ask and pick your brains! nice bit of footage there. :D
Last edited by FATBOY on 27 Mar 2009, 21:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby marc » 27 Mar 2009, 18:30

I worked on the Pier for a dya, when we moved the Log Flume from Felixstowe to Clacton in 1994 i belive
HANDS IN THE AIR!!!
"HACKS"
FELIXSTOWE`S NUMBER "1" ENTHUSIAST
Hacks Pix
www.funfairworld.co.uk
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Postby FATBOY » 27 Mar 2009, 21:24

managed to find some more bits!

this is a postcard that was on e bay a few weeks ago! i lost the bidding :0(

Image

and ive managed to get hold of the local newspaper story of where the coaster went to.

the whirlwind coaster (which was renamed the korkkiruuvi, which is corkscrew in finnish) went to the Särkänniemi theme park in the city of tampere in finland, where it still runs to this day!!!

article dated 24/04/87

Image

been told a bit about what it says in the story

-it was described as 100 tons of steel
-if the park didn't lay on a rock foundation, the icy Finnish winter
could've caused the construction to be in pieces again
-the article says that they bought it from Clacton in England
-since it was used, they got it for next to nothing (7 million Finnish marks)
-it was being set up by four Dutch experts

if anyone can translate finnish i would be greatful!! that bit about next to nothing sounds about right!!! lol
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Postby Chief Engineer » 27 Mar 2009, 23:22

Hi Fatboy, thanks for the welcome to the forum. Yes I am still there and as I am sure your aware I have a new boss, this will be my fourth during my employment at the Pier, I am sure I came under fixtures and fittings in the sale inventory.

Hi Marc, we must have met then as I can certainly remember Robert towing the log flume all the way from Felixstowe behind his 4X4 and was it really all those years ago, time fly’s when your having fun.

Something you might have worked on Marc over at Charlie’s park would have been the Lighthouse slip. It is making a guest appearance on the Pier, not sure when it is going to be erected because of the need for a wind free day, but this coming Tuesday should see its arrival. Of course most of you will recall the Pier had its own Lighthouse slip of which I am actually trying to trace the manufacturer, to date no luck.
Charlie’s Lighthouse was very similar to the Pier’s one, so it will be nice to see it stood virtually where a lot of the old photos show it standing.

Sorry cant translate finnish , but I was there when the Wirlwind was erected and sadly there to see her dismantled and trucked away. For me it never quite had quite the same magic as the ‘Steel Stella’ but it certainly filled that part of the Pier that now seems empty without the wow factor of an impressive coaster .

OK! Ready and waiting for all your questions.
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Postby FATBOY » 27 Mar 2009, 23:38

thanks for the reply! have you got anymore information regarding the whirlwind? or any more pics or snippets? why was it sold off? what happened to the ferris wheel? where is it now? why did it go? and what date did it go? the ride that took its place,that went upside down on that single arm thing? what happened to that? why did that go? it only seemed to last one season? what is the old swimming pool/dolphinarium used for now? is the jolly roger ever going to be restored to her former glory? is it just used for storage in there now (old rides/arcade machines)??? sorry for the many questions! :D
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Postby Chief Engineer » 29 Mar 2009, 00:27

Wow, so many questions and very little time, so bare with me over the next few nights as I answer them all.

I do have a couple of news paper clippings of when the Whirlwind first opened, I will scan them soon and post them up.

Sadly the demise of the Whirlwind was purely financial, it just could not pay for itself. It was unfortunate timing in that Butlins closed its Clacton camp the following season after the Whirlwind was erected, the loss of turn over in people numbers was quite drastic, I have heard that in the height of the summer seasons, Butlins would attract around 7,000 guests per week, when you take those sorts of numbers away, it made a big impact on visitors to the Pier.

The demise of the Big Wheel was mainly down to rust moths. I am not quite sure of the date when the Big Wheel first arrived on the Pier, but it had certainly been there quite a few years by the time I first started working on the Pier, so it was already beginning to show signs of its many years exposed to the corrosive North Sea. A lot of the main parts to the wheel were remade as they became to badly corroded to be repaired, all fourteen gates that hold the outer rings to the centre hub were totally replaced not long after I joined the Pier. Of course these works are usually carried out during the winter period so the public never really see any changes as the yellow paint always looked the same. The centre hub was the next large part to be totally replaced complete with a new 6inch diameter shaft, this was followed a couple of years later by a complete new hydraulic system from tank to new drive motors and brakes. The last major upgrade which was done on the grounds of Health & Safety was the fitting of cages to all fourteen gondolas, which I feel spoilt the look of the ride. By then the four main legs and steel ground work that ride sat on were in need of attention, and as a ride of that size takes a lot of man hours to erect and maintain it was decided that the time had come for something new and less labour intensive to set up, would take its place. The Wheel was sold to a firm who’s intentions were to completely repair and restore it to an ‘as new’ attraction, but I don’t believe that ever happened so it is probably somebody’s Ford Fiesta now. The ride that took its place is the current ’Twister’ that presently sits in the undercover rides area.

More answers soon
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Postby Gary » 29 Mar 2009, 08:05

This is a great thread - Thanks to all for contributing so far.

Welcome Chief! :)

Gary
Please pass through the turnstiles if you are riding again.
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Postby Paul281 » 29 Mar 2009, 18:07

Hi Chief. I used to like the Fourth Dimension, especially the music. It sounded very similar to Rendezvous by Jean Michel Jarre.

That's been gone a few years as well now I reckon.
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Postby FATBOY » 29 Mar 2009, 18:22

was the 4th dimension that zoned off bit??? 1 zone was the dodgems? 1 zone was the waltzers? and one was a simulator? was there a dummy dressed up in a spacesuit holding a gun at the entrance to this bit???
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Postby Chief Engineer » 29 Mar 2009, 21:38

Hopefully tonight I can answer a few more of questions. Firstly a question posed about the ride on the Pier on an arm that went upside down? It was painted a delightful shade of pink and called the ‘Skymaster’ and it actually ran for two seasons on the Pier. Some of the rides in the past that we have had on the Pier are actually rented in, it enables the Pier to offer a different ride experience and something fresh to advertise. The Skymaster was not a particular favourite of mine as I am not a particular keen lover of heights. Part of the daily inspection for that ride involved squeezing yourself into the main central tower and climb up to the top and pop your top half out of inspection hatch to grease and check the slewing rings and that everything was in order. The ride actually had two cars on counter balanced arms that rotated in opposite directions. Built by ARM an I am sure it is still travelling the UK.


The ‘Fourth Dimension’ came about after the first year that the ‘Star Cruiser’ was dreamt up following on from the then very new ‘Star Wars’ film. The actual birth of the Star Cruiser came about after the Pier purchased a second-hand fire damaged Waltzer, all the original roof and top rounding boards had been fire damaged, yet all the cars and running gear were undamaged and rather than replacing it back to an original Waltzer it was decided to make it a dark ride and to give the outside a theme, which happened to be a flying saucer shaped space craft. The Star Wars theme just evolved from that. The sound track carried on with the theme along with all the strobe and internal lighting effects. The sound play back was split into two parts, one as you entered the Star Cruiser with the second sound track taking over as the operator started the ride to give you the star wars battle pumping out at 200 watts. Back then it was 8 track technology that was used as the sound playback , by the time that the fourth dimension had grown to four rides, there was a whole room just devoted to 8 track players, happy memories of chewed up tapes.

Wow you remember the storm trooper standing guard at the entrance! He was fabricated, or I should probably say sculpted from a collection of odds and ends, plastic car parts and rubber tubes all put together by the very talented sculptor and model maker, Mr. Don Owen. I do recall that the storm trooper did cause quite a stir when he made his first public appearance over in one of the local Ipswich radio stations foyers as part of the 4th Dimension advertising campaign. Don had used a rather large segmented flexible rubber gear shift cover, as a sort of cod piece between the troopers legs, Don had glued all the rubber segments flush together not realising that the heat from the front display window caused the glue to softened and all these rubber segments started to become unstuck and pop apart causing the cover to grow back to its original length, to something slightly X rated.

More to follow soon
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