Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Second Blackpool 1977 Photo Album 3 - The Pleasure Beach

Today we'll turn the pages of my photo album from 1977 to look at some photos of the Pleasure Beach on the south side of Watson Road.

Personally I much preferred walking along the front of the Pleasure Beach before the row of shops was built. The view of the Log Flume with the Big Dipper behind it always raised great anticipation of going on rides. Even for people who didn't like the white knuckle rides there were the rafts of the Tom Sawyer ride and every now and then the Pleasure Beach Express would chug along the edge of the lake at the foot of the Big Dipper woodwork.

The lake had once been home to rowing boats and then what I used to call putt-putt motor boats. These were moved to a spot in the north-east corner where a twisty canal was made to drive them along. The Tom Sawyer ride was a raft ride with a few tableaux of scenes with caricature figures of hillbillies placed here and there, perhaps just a touch incongruously amongst the supports for the Log Flume and Big Dipper.

In the background are the Aztec towers of the River Caves - the frontage I always think of if anyone mentions the River Caves. Because of its position with only a narrow space in front of it, I always found it impossible to get a really good photo of the River Caves which is a shame.

The Grand Prix dated back to the 1960s. After the bridging of Watson Road, the ride's station was situated on top of the bridge and a double spiral road led up and down to the track. I remember the cars being petrol driven but they were later replaced by electric motors. You steered the cars yourself and could either try to go top speed or you could zig-zag as much as you liked, but a central metal barrier stopped you from running off the road. It was very popular with teens still under the minimum driving age.

There were three parts of the Monorail ride I always particularly liked. This shows one of them - the passing of the train through the wooden structure of the Big Dipper seen here from the south station of the Pleasure Beach Express. You always hoped that the Big Dipper itself would be thundering down the dip towards you as the Monorail came out, but it seldom happened that way!

The second was when the Monorail went around the casino building at the northern end of the park. This part of the ride was later closed and a new section of rail kept the ride within boundary of the Pleasure Beach. After going round the Casino building it briefly travelled over the car park on the north side of the Pleasure Beach.

I don't have a photo of the third part but it was when the Monorail passed through the back of the Fun House. A favourite part of the ride for lots of people I imagine!

The Pleasure Beach Express passes the South Station and will now travel along the length of the Big Dipper before looping round up the side of Watson Road to enter its main station. Dating from 1933 the Express had three diesel engined locomotives, shaped to look like steam engines. The bulk of the carriages were open as seen here but the train usually pulled one enclosed pullman carriage designed (or at least sized) for younger riders.

In the days when radio controls were large and expensive and involved complicated arrangements of transistors and soldered joints, the nearest most people got to them was something like this. The boats could be made to turn left and right and go forwards or backwards. My Dad was into electronics and had made a radio controlled boat that we used to sail at a local pond before we had moved to Blackpool. The boat itself was just a little larger than these but it had an engine that was started with a length of leather chord and it went about 300 times as fast as these... The radio control quite often stopped working and it would smash itself into the stone-flagged side of the pond with a ferociousness that caused a very sore hand if you tried to catch it!

One of the kiddie rides. The southern half of the Pleasure Beach had started out as a children's version of the northern side and it was only with the bridging of Watson Road that larger rides started to appear.

One of the many sideshow attractions of the Pleasure Beach. Knocking a pyramid of cans over was easy. Knocking them off the back of the shelf wasn't... Consolation prize from the bottom shelf - tiny screwdrivers, combs, pencils...

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