OVER the last
week (4 September to the 11 September 2006) the town has been
in shock at the announced redundancies and closure of what is in
many eyes, Southport. "The fun fair's
tagline... "The excitement just keeps going" seems to linger in my
mind, as I watched workers leave for the very last time."
One of the very last visitors to the park told us.
The historic fun fair
was opened in King’s Gardens, Southport in 1912 with just a Helter
Skelter and figure 8 rollercoaster as main attractions. By 1924
a water chute, boats on the Marine Lake and a Hiram Maxim Flying
Machine meant the park had outgrown its site and the rides and
attractions were re-located to the site it ended on, this week. The
new location opened in 1930 with a new name 'Pleasureland'
and some of the original rides remain on the grounds like the
'Ghost Train' and 'Crazy House' that was renamed the
'Haunted Inn'. Also the world famous wooden rollercoaster called
the 'Cyclone', that many in Southport now fear will be lost
forever. It is also feared that Pleasureland’s 1950’s 'Fun
House', that was originally called the 'House of Nonsense'
and the 'Queen’s Horses' that was renamed to
'Gallopers' could also be lost. One ride that has been on the
skyline of Southport and can be seen for miles around is now to go
to Blackpool. Only installed in 1999, the awesome sight of the
'TRAUMAtizer' will soon be taken down and moved to
Pleasurebeach. It was the UK’s tallest, fastest, suspended looping
coaster, built at a cost of £5 million by the Dutch company Vekoma.
Another historic ride, having previously been situated the now
closed Morecambe Frontierland was the 'King Solomon’s Rides'.
Again it is feared now that this historic ride will be lost or sold
on and moved like the 'TRAUMAtizer' as well. But the biggest
loss was the 52 permanent staff jobs and the 281+ part time jobs,
that will devastate the town not only in the short term but also in
the long term, if a a new owner is not found soon.
Mark Lee who was one
of Casablanca’s managers and was before changing job, a
publicity officer for the park, said that:- "It
was just a matter of minutes before the park was closed that staff
got told they had all been made redundant on Tuesday. We are all
upset. It is not just the loss of our jobs in the manner that they
did it, but also we are feeling the loss to the town.
On Monday we were told there would be a meeting the next day
for all permanent staff with senior management to discuss the future
of the park. We new something was wrong. We could see padlocks going
on and alarm codes were being changed! The next day at 4.30pm, one
of the directors, Mike Brown, told us that Pleasureland had proved
unsustainable and announced its closure saying we would all be made
redundant. You could sense a change in mood after Geoffrey Thompson
died, but you would never have thought we would be treated like
this. He always visited Southport and he loved the place and had a
passion for amusement park. Sadly his passion has not lived on after
his death with the current owners in Blackpool."
It was not just the park staff who have been affected, but also outside, operators and staff of the Rocket Ride also now face problems
as do the newly opened Combat Zone.
One of the ride
operators, now ex-members of staff from Pleasureland told us that:-
"The only hope now is that some one will see the site for what
it is. A gold mine. With 08 only a year off, if some one takes it
on, brings in a set of new rides to replace the rids Blackpool are
taking and opens for Liverpool 08. Well, who ever does that would
hit the Jack Pot. Sadly it does not look like it will happen at this
point. It is a typical story of Brittan today. Short sighted
stupidity that is destroying our heritage and culture."
Click here to read the press
statement from Pleasureland.
CLICK HERE to play report.
here to read related reports this week.