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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 12:35 GMT
Dreamland closes its doors
Dreamland Theme Park
Plans have been outlined for housing and retail on the site
The Dreamland theme park in Margate closes on Sunday after 84 years in business.

The famous park's owners announced earlier this year that it would be closing as it had become "too big for Margate".

Plans have been unveiled to use the site for a retail and leisure complex - although planning permission has not yet been granted.

Dreamland users and former employees have been expressing their sadness at the end of an era for the Kent seaside resort.

It's a magical place, it's wonderful - without Dreamland, where's the magic?
Sarah Vickery, Save Dreamland
The park was originally scheduled to close in September, at the end of the summer season, but a decision was taken to keep it open for the school half-term week.

Question marks exist over the plans to redevelop the site because the park's most famous ride, the Scenic Railway rollercoaster, has listed status.

Built in 1920, it was given Grade II listed status last year after a recommendation from English Heritage, making it the only rollercoaster in the UK to be listed.

Its status offers protection against development - and the prospect of a housing estate with a rollercoaster in the centre seems unlikely.

The Scenic Railway
The Scenic Railway was built in 1920 and given listed status last year

When the Scenic Railway was given listed status in March 2002, then Dreamland owner Jim Godden told the BBC he was delighted at the prospect of its status widening the scope for future restoration.

But 13 months later Mr Godden announced Dreamland was to close and the park is no longer under his ownership.

A pressure group called Save Dreamland has been set up to campaign to keep the park open.

In September members rode the Scenic Railway for 200 minutes in 1920s costumes to draw attention to its plight and raise money for their campaign.

And in October they drew attention to figures compiled by Visit Britain, which showed Dreamland was the fifth most visited free theme park in the UK during 2002, claiming they showed the attraction was still popular enough to stay open.

Scenic Railway, Dreamland
Dreamland was the UK's fifth most visited free theme park last year

During what is scheduled to be its last weekend in business, members of Save Dreamland have been among visitors the park.

Sarah Vickery said: "Dreamland is magic. It was magic getting off the train as a child and a teenager, seeing the big sign and hearing the Scenic Railway.

"Even now from my back garden I can hear the screams of the scenic of an evening.

"It's a magical place, it's wonderful - without Dreamland, where's the magic?"

Current theme park manager David Bill echoed her views.

He said: "This year especially, we have had so many people come up to us and say I met my future wife here and here are our kids, we have had so many great times here.

"When they hear Dreamland is closing, they are horrified, especially when they look at their kids and say 'you're not going to have the same opportunities we had'."




SEE ALSO:
Dreamland 'ranks in top 10'
05 Oct 03  |  Kent
In pictures: Fire on Margate seafront
04 Apr 03  |  Photo Gallery
Seasonal reprieve for Dreamland
01 Apr 03  |  England
Master plan for Margate
19 Feb 03  |  England
New owner for Dreamland
20 Jan 03  |  England
Riding the highs and lows
04 May 02  |  England


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