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 FATBOY » 29 Mar 2009, 22:33

thanks for getting through these questions mr engineer. Ive got a couple more, was the whirlwind purchased by the pier? Or rented? As in a previous post it went to finland, do you know where it was shipped out from? How many lorries were used to take the sections away? And Is the paratrooper the longest serving ride? I have more but i will let you catch up with these.
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Postby Chief Engineer » 30 Mar 2009, 21:37

Time is short again tonight, so bare with me on providing the answers.

Most of the larger rides are brought on finance, it’s the way the business world works, so it takes a few years before a ride is actually owned by the Pier, so the Whirlwind technically never belonged to the Pier as its stay was to short. Not sure what port was used to ship all the loads back again across the North Sea. I do recall it came in a lot of loads, some of the trailers were the type that had an extendable rear section to accommodate some of the longer legs, these trailers could also be steered at the back remotely to enable the loads to squeeze around the tight bends that lead onto the Piers service road to the west side of the Pier.

The good old mainstay of the Piers rides, the ‘Paratrooper’ Sadly this will possibly be its last year, it has done many years of service and entertained a lot of thrill seekers, even me when I was in my late teens. It must be about 35 years old, built in Scotland by the famous ride engineers Maxwell’s and built to last.

There are a few contenders for longest serving ride, although the paratrooper is probably the most complete ride that is still earning its keep. The Dodgem track is one part of the Pier that has quite a few years under its belt, although of course the present cars are only a few years old. We do have one 8 arm lifting children’s ride in storage that is possibly the oldest, it is called the Bat’s but originally it had a different set of car bodies shaped as space rockets. Sadly its beyond economical repair, but it is hoped that it might be restored back to its original form by a ride museum.

CE
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Postby FATBOY » 30 Mar 2009, 21:44

excellent pictures mr engineer! And thanks for getting through these questions. Last year of the paratrooper? :0( well in all my 30 years ive never ever been on it, i must amend that in the summer before its too late. Bats? The cars on this werent glittery were they? And had batman logo shape dummy steering wheels? Does the red baron still exist on the pier?
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Postby FATBOY » 31 Mar 2009, 18:10

good to see you boys still working at gone 5PM! was down martello bay earlier looking out to sea with the binoculars(seeing how the windfarm is taking shape) and decided to take a look at the pier and the helter skelter that has sprung up. looks good! deffo adds a bit of character to the pier. are anymore rides/attractions going to be appearing??? and would in the future any bigger rides like say the skymaster ever be returning to the pier? sorry for the more questions!!! :D
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Lighthouse slip

Postby Chief Engineer » 31 Mar 2009, 23:19

Hi there, just a very quick posting tonight to let everyone share what FATBOY could see. Back in one of the original spots where the Pier’s Lighthouse slip used to stand is one of the new attractions for 2009.

Unfortunately I spent all day taking snaps as it was being erected , only to find out on the last picture I had the camera in macro mode, so this is the only decent picture I captured today.

Yes another late night, a few more to go yet, watch out on Friday for another fresh ride appearance!

PS Unfortunately this is not as stated before the Lighthouse slip from Felixstowe, there was a change plan at the last minute.


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Postby dirkthedaring71 » 01 Apr 2009, 07:00

Engineer, all this information is fantastic. I remember the Bats but only in the shiney gold and silver form :). What happened similar ride that had helicopters where you could pull the bar towards you and they would rise, drop it and they would fall?

Do you have any info on the Ghost Safari that was in the location of where the large arcade is now and the haunted dungeon (sited where the aquarium entrance is now)? A few years back i did get a sneaky look in the former Jolly Roger at the end of the pier and i swear that the cars from the ghost safari were in there.
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Postby FATBOY » 01 Apr 2009, 16:28

i remember the helicopter ride!!! used to love that when i was young. that picture of the helter skelter looks brilliant! and really stands out on the pier, last things that stood out were the big wheel and then after that was the skymaster, been lacking of late. how close is it to the railings???
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Postby FATBOY » 05 Apr 2009, 12:47

found this postcard view on e bay

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not sure on the date??? but they are still doing speedboat rides from the beach(doubt you would ever have that now with health and safety), the big wheel still stands, and so does the castle slide ride. what happened to this mr engineer? rumours were it blew into the sea in the great wind of 87??? is that true? the whirlwind arrived in 83? and left in 85? so this picture might well be 86??? if you look just above the yellow cockney sign you can see the blue of the LIDO slide. im sure that appeared in 89/90???? also what happened to the chairlifts? i can just about remember them, was there a station at the halfway point of the pier? and a station near to the jolly roger?

also noticed the waveswinger/chair o plane? that has now appeared!!! looking good!
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Postby Chief Engineer » 06 Apr 2009, 22:52

Hi Fatboy,

What a great postcard, plus your memory of dates and events is certainly better than mine. Yes the ‘Astroglide’ slide did disappear in the storm of 87, blown over the side never to be seen again. The steel work must still lay down the side of the Pier in the sand, but even on extra low tides I have never spotted any sticking up. When the slide got blown away it pulled most of the Pier’s hand rail into the water, that was recovered using hooks and the old mobile piling crane.

The Chair lift actually ran in two different locations before finally leaving the Pier. It was first installed on the seaward corner of the outside ride slab, then it crossed over the sea diagonally carrying on till it ended up near the front staircase of the Jolly Roger, this was before I worked on the Pier. I do remember when it had been relocated to run up the neck of the pier on the western side, with the stations as Fatboy remembers them, again this was before I worked on the Pier. I believe the change was done on the grounds of health and safety.

The Waveswinger is only here for a few weeks, but it features in another thread on this forum

http://www.joylandbooks.co.uk/forum/vie ... php?t=1746

Always nice to see something different to entertain the folks!
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Postby Paul281 » 07 Apr 2009, 09:34

I used to like the Speedway ride. That went years ago didn't it?

I reckon the longest operating piece of equipment is the Sooty's T.V Show on the left near the kiddies coin op rides.

They've been around for years!
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Postby Chief Engineer » 07 Apr 2009, 16:40

Which ‘Speedway’? The Pier has had two rides with that name. I certainly can recall going on the car Speedway as a young teenager. That ride was an undercover oval race track with individual two seater racing cars, to get the best speed out of your car you had to line up the middle of the car bonnet with the insulators between the track plates, plus you had a outside handbrake, fantastic ride. By the time I joined the workforce it had long gone, all that survived were the two huge power converters, these carried on in service for quite a few years. Basically these converters were a large 3 phase motor driving a 110 volt dynamo and probably weighed well over a ton each.

The other Speedway ride with the motor bikes on a undulating circular ride was there when I joined the Pier. I am sure that it is the ride on the corner of the outside ride area in the postcard above. The ride was powered by one of the original car Speedway power converters, being a 110 volt DC Ride. One of the dynamos ended up being converted into the drive motor fitted to this ride when the original motor windings failed and became uneconomic to repair.

The remaining power converter carried on giving good service up till the replacement of the old‘Twist’ with the new ‘Twister’ ride in 2001, when the final converter went to an undignified end at the hands of the scrap merchant.

Poor old Sooty is hanging on in there, just, but is in desperate need of some TLC, that old 8 track player has definitely almost played its last song, it even has its own ‘youtube’ slot. Built original by a firm set up by Mr. Keith Sparks in partner ship with the Harrison’s well before the Harrison’s took over the Pier, so they ended up buying back one of their own machines. I hope it lives on as there cant be too many of these still surviving.

CE
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Postby FATBOY » 07 Apr 2009, 21:21

good luck on your checks in the morning mate! i remember the electric motorbikes! there was the oval track just outside the doors that led from the amusements, in between the amusements and the whirlwind. is the jolly roger just used for old rides storage now? is there any plans for it to be brought back to its former glory?? also do you remember the ice rink that was in the undercover bit?
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4th Dimension

Postby Chief Engineer » 08 Apr 2009, 23:14

For those of you that remember the collection of space themed dark rides that became the 4th Dimension on the Pier, here is a little trip back in time. I came across one of the old 8 track cartridges that used to provide all the individual sound tracks to each themed ride.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFXKpmzArV0

The sound track in this youtube clip is from the ‘Starfighters’ although the eagle eyed who can recall each ride will recognise the publicity photo that I have used to accompany the sound track actually belongs from the ‘Starcrusier’

This is the main sound track that would have played while the ride was moving, each ride had two tracks, the other track would have been playing while the ride was being loaded .

It would be great if anyone has any photographs of these themed rides, but I am guessing that as the Starfighters was hidden from view its going to be unlikely.
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Postby Chief Engineer » 08 Apr 2009, 23:37

Thanks Fatboy,

Now that we have the Waveswinger for a few weeks it means back to the old days of an early morning climb to carry out the daily inspections, the Skymaster was the last tall ride that involved a climb to carry out inspections.

The poor old Jolly Roger has had loads of ideas thrown at it over time, but sadly at the present time the cost to bring her back to her glory days is too prohibited. As one of the oldest remaining theatres built over the North Sea you would expect a lot more financial help to be available , unfortunately it does not meet the right criteria to obtain a lottery grant, it is not even a listed building .

Yes I do remember the Ice rink, it managed a few winters before it disappeared , the refrigeration equipment just became to expensive to maintain and run. One of the problems encountered in maintaining the rink was keeping your shoes and tools away from the concentrated brine that was used to freeze the ice. If you got any on your shoes the leather would shrink and dry out overnight and metal tools would turn to rust before your eyes.

CE
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Re: 4th Dimension

Postby Paul281 » 09 Apr 2009, 08:59

Chief Engineer wrote:For those of you that remember the collection of space themed dark rides that became the 4th Dimension on the Pier, here is a little trip back in time. I came across one of the old 8 track cartridges that used to provide all the individual sound tracks to each themed ride.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFXKpmzArV0

The sound track in this youtube clip is from the ‘Starfighters’ although the eagle eyed who can recall each ride will recognise the publicity photo that I have used to accompany the sound track actually belongs from the ‘Starcrusier’

This is the main sound track that would have played while the ride was moving, each ride had two tracks, the other track would have been playing while the ride was being loaded .

It would be great if anyone has any photographs of these themed rides, but I am guessing that as the Starfighters was hidden from view its going to be unlikely.

That bought back some memories. Thanks for posting that.

The Speedway I remember was the second one you mentioned, that was fast , I used to hang off the side of the bike. Great fun!

I don't know if you have anything to do with the maintenance of the video games in the arcades, but if you could keep Track And Field running for another 25 years, it would be much appreciated! :lol:
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