Friday, 21 November 2014

1977 Blackpool Photo Album 7 - The Pleasure Beach

We've done it. We've reached the end of our series from the recently unearthed photo album of Blackpool. The photographs were all taken in 1977 and I hope you've enjoyed looking through them with me. Today we'll be taking a stroll through Blackpool's Pleasure Beach. In contrast with the earlier articles in this series, most of the photos this time have already been seen either on this blog or elsewhere in the past. The consolation is that they all show either rides no longer with us, or ones that were under construction in 1977, so there is something in every photo that you can't see today.

The Monorail is only very recently decommissioned as a ride. But never-the-less, it has gone, never to trundle slowly round the concrete pillars holding up the track. Pictured is the futuristic enclosed train that everyone hoped for. Unfortunately the door seals were so good that after a mere five minutes regardless of whether snow was falling, you were sweltering in the heat from exhaled breath and neighbours' body heat! The springs on the doors were really strong too, so holding a door open with your foot to get some much needed fresh air was an exhausting business!

Just in front of the monorail train and on the other side of the track we see the backs of giant animal figures which overlook a row of children's trampolines. Behind them we can just see the black square hole of a bridge over the Pleasure Beach Express. Two of the Pleasure Beach "woodies" roller coasters can be seen in the background. On the left a curve of the Grand National and to the right, the riser of the Roller Coaster.

We've seen the tall thin column of the Space Tower a couple of times already in this series, but here is the gondola that spun round and rose in a spiral up the tower. It remained in Blackpool until 1993 when it had to come down to make way for the Big One, roller coaster. It was moved to Morecambe's Frontierland and renamed the Polo Tower, being repainted in appropriate colours. It has the distinction of being the last bit of Frontierland standing.

In the same area were these rockets. This was an old ride - I have a photo of me and my brother on it that was taken around 1964. Each rocket had a lever control that raised or lowered the rocket as they went round. Riding high was a more comfortable ride as the angle you sat at was either leaning inwards at the top, in which case gravity counteracted the centrifugal force, or leaning outwards at the bottom which added the gravity force to the centrifugal force and your left shoulder took a bit of punishment against the side of the cockpit!

The Log Flume was an immensely popular ride in its time. It was built over the old boating lake in front of the Big Dipper. There were two long downward ramps during the ride which resulted in the fibreglass log carriage splashing down into the chute that carried the water along with the result that riders stood a good chance of coming off the ride considerably soaked. On the lake itself the motor boats had been replaced by the rafts of the Tom Sawyer Ride. This was a slow ride along a series of scenes that would have been better screened off, with just a few tableaux of mannequins and animals that you might see on the Mississippi. I could say it was a bit like the Mississippi stern wheeler ride at Disneyland - but only if you believe that Mr Jinks and Pixie and Dixie were as good as Tom and Jerry...

In 1977 the Pleasure Beach were making a big thing out of their new ride, currently being constructed on the southern half of the park. This was called the Steeplechase and had three parallel tracks running round a twisting layout with occasional rises to go over the "jumps". A horse-glider that reminded onlookers of the Derby Racer roundabout is displayed whilst work is ongoing so that visitors could imagine what it would be like to ride. On the left is the station of the ride being built.

The Virginia Reel was another superb ride that many people thought of as their favourite. It dated from 1922 and in 1977 would have just five more years to stand. Riders sat around the inside of a tub which revolved whilst clattering around a sloping track that zig-zagged back on itself like a piece of corrugated cardboard seen end-on. A great ride for courting couples - as I recall...

Well there you go... We've been through the pages of this photo album in seven instalments. When I picked out this photo album I had a few to choose from. It wasn't even the only one from 1977. It wasn't even the only one with a photo of the Steeplechase under construction... So this series may have come to an end, but there will be another. Not straight away, perhaps, but then... I don't want to get boring, do I?

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