Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Blackpool Pleasure Beach 1995

Today a look at the Pleasure Beach at Blackpool in 1995. I think this was one of my last visits to the Pleasure Beach. It remained somewhere I kept meaning to go to again and then from 2009 they started charging admission and for me that was a huge mistake and the end of my desire to go.

I know other parks like Alton Towers and so on all charge admission, but Blackpool is a seaside town. A holiday destination. The Pleasure Beach served that town, not the other way around. The other theme parks have more ground and are landscaped. The Pleasure Beach is crammed with rides which leaves little room for making it look nice. People holidaying in Blackpool for a week (it used to happen...) want to go into the Pleasure Beach for a bit every day riding maybe one or two rides. Now to make it economical, you have to spend a full day in there.

It quickly went from being the number 1 attraction in the UK to not even No.1 in Blackpool. A great shame. I used to love the waffles with strawberry syrup and cream... I wouldn't pay a fiver just to be able to walk in to the stall that sold them...

However, back in 1995 all was happiness and light for a visitor. The Big One roller coaster had opened the previous year and there were queues of people happy to stand in line waiting for a ride on it.

No matter where you were in the park, it dominated the skyline. Yet I always thought it a strangely uninspiring ride. I preferred the sinuous sine wave curves of the woodies like The Big Dipper and Grand National. The Big One was fast and high but not, to me, exciting. My opinion only of course!

The most up to date ride with the oldest ride in front of it. The Hiram Maxim Flying Machine is still turning today, still driven by its original engine. It was one of several such rides created by the inventor as a means of stimulating interest in powered flight and hopefully prompting an excited rider into sponsoring his designs.

He invented mousetraps, asthma inhalers and all sorts of things before he invented the first machine gun small enough to be called "portable" just in time for World War One. He grew immensely rich - and deaf - from it.

Originally the passengers sat in pods that looked more like rowing boats than aeroplanes or rocketships. He had wanted to equip them with controls so that riders could make them go up and down as well as swinging out but the fairground industry, no doubt with visions of customers screaming with pleasure turning into customers screaming in terror as they plunged into the ground, vetoed that idea, leaving the great man dismissing what was left as a glorified merry-go-round... A merry-go-round that has stood the test of time though!

The black swinging pods of the 1960s Monster ride had been replaced by a similar but inferior temporary ride here pending the building of the Play Station (now Tango Ice Blast) for 1997.

Opposite the entrance to another of the Pleasure Beach's veteran rides - the River Caves - was a development that looked as though it was based on the Bedrock town of The Flintstones.

And we'll finish with a couple of night shots taken during the same year, 1995. The new Big One roller coaster dominates the view of the Pleasure Beach as seen from the South Pier in this photo.

The Hiram Maxim Flying Machine, taken with a long exposure and the camera on a tripod from the balcony at the side of the Ghost Train. Alice in Wonderland is on the left, no doubt playing the music of The Cuckoo Waltz!

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