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The Morecambe theme park that got here earlier than Frontierland the place girl ‘narrowly escaped loss of life’

“Eyesore” is the notorious phrase attributed to the derelict Frontierland web site by Morecambe politicians as they pushed for the…

By Staff , in Amusement Parks , at October 9, 2021

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“Eyesore” is the notorious phrase attributed to the derelict Frontierland web site by Morecambe politicians as they pushed for the positioning to be put to make use of in 2020.

The acquisition of the land this summer time by Lancaster Metropolis Council marked a brand new daybreak for the premier pleasure park which has endured a protracted and winding historical past within the seaside resort.

However few can be conscious that the phrase “eyesore” was additionally used to explain one other lively Morecambe amusement park again in 1938, the so-called Determine of Eight Park, which might later turn into Frontierland.

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In 1896 a British ex-pat in New York lastly gave up on his dream of turning into an promoting salesman on Madison Avenue.

That man was Alderman William George Bean who returned to the UK in 1897 and opened two separate amusement parks; one in Nice Yarmouth and one other in Blackpool.

Though the Nice Yarmouth park failed quickly after its inception, Bean’s dedication to his challenge in Blackpool turned out to be a sensible transfer as it could later turn into the extensively profitable Blackpool Pleasure Seaside we all know and love at the moment.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach today; originally the complex was established by Alderman William George Bean
Blackpool Pleasure Seaside’s picnic coverage has been criticised by a mum-of-four

Some data counsel that it was Bean who purchased the the Determine Eight park in Morecambe again in 1909 whereas some counsel that it was his successor, and son-in-law Leonard Thompson, who purchased the park within the Thirties or presumably even the Forties.

Newspaper data appear to counsel that the latter is true nonetheless it value trying on the park that existed earlier than it was acquired by the Pleasure Seaside empire.

We all know little or no concerning the amusement park earlier than it was bought because it went underneath quite a lot of names which aren’t talked about in newspaper data.

However there are common references to a Determine Eight Park on Marine Highway in Morecambe all through the Nineteen Twenties. In reality the Morecambe Guardian appeared to carry up the amusement park as an actual vacationer attraction for the city.

A 1922 advert for the Figure Eight Park, the forerunner to Frontierland, Morecambe
A 1922 advert for the Determine Eight Park, the forerunner to Frontierland, Morecambe

Given its location, and place as an amusement park, it’s probably that this Determine Eight Park was the forerunner to what would turn into Frontierland.

The oldest point out of Determine Eight Park comes on February 11, 1922, when the native Girls’s Citizen’s Organisation held a lecture from a Mr Raynor on the park. The lecture was on Wi-fi Telegraphy (transmitting morse code by way of radio).

Evidently the ladies’s membership have been frequent customers of the park all through the winter and spring of 1922 (in all probability because it was the off season) with a number of events and talks held on the park.

Some of the vital conferences was held on the park in April, 1922, when Miss Winifred Mayo attended to speak to the ladies concerning the suffrage motion and the Six Level Group (a British feminist motion based the 12 months earlier than).

Britain had solely granted girls the correct to vote in 1918, following the conclusion of World Warfare One, however it was nonetheless solely accessible to girls over the age of 30.

Evidently Miss Mayo, who was an lively suffragette, spending numerous her time in jail for her activism in the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, was eager to debate the significance of ladies voting.

In June the Morecambe Guardian reported that the park had reopened having undergone “immense enhancements and alterations.”

Frontierland, Lancashire
Frontierland, Lancashire

Asphalt paths had been put in on the park whereas reporters described a brand new inexperienced and white color scheme with new illuminations that have been “fairly a function.”

The paper additionally talked about the determine eight miniature railway current on the pleasure park which is the place the attraction acquired its unique title.

In these summer time days the park was open all day, with free admission, and common adverts for the attraction appeared alongside the Winter Gardens within the Morecambe Guardian who additionally described an inflow of mill employees coming as much as the city to benefit from the park.

Journalists point out “Bolton vacation folks” and “Burnley vacation makers” taking day without work to benefit from the seaside.

The Nineteen Twenties have been a golden period for the park, in 1924 it was talked about within the Morecambe Guardian that points of interest akin to Flaps and the Clock and Ball Recreation had arrived on the park, having been borrowed from the vastly common Olympia amusement park in London.

The derelict Frontierland site has been purchased by Lancaster City Council.
The derelict Frontierland web site has been bought by Lancaster Metropolis Council.

Evening time Illuminations have been additionally held on the park from 1927 and in 1928 pictures of pleased kids having fun with the rides appeared within the Morecambe Guardian.

However, regardless of the early success of the positioning, the top of the Nineteen Twenties noticed a downturn in fortunes on the Morecambe Determine Eight Park.

By the late Nineteen Twenties Determine Eight Park was receiving mountains of unhealthy press.

In 1927, vacationers advised the Morecambe Guardian that they’d skilled “unhealthy smells” from near the park which mirrored on Morecambe’s lack of a “first-class sewerage system.”

The next 12 months a homeless man known as James Marchant was discovered responsible of being drunk and disorderly on Marine Highway after a policeman noticed him wiping his greasy and fish oil stained fingers on fairground goers.

A Bolton native, Marchant was fined 40 shillings for the offence.

However probably the most surprising incident got here in August 1929 when a Mr and Mrs Pollard from Leeds have been having fun with the park.

Whereas strolling by the advanced Mrs Pollard was instantly shot within the left arm; it appeared {that a} wayward shot from the park’s taking pictures vary had caught her.

Docs at Blackpool Victoria Hospital discovered that the bullet had gone proper by her limb; the Morecambe Guardian stated that Mrs Pollard had skilled a “slender escape from loss of life.”

The incident in which Mrs Pollard was shot through the arm at the Figure Eight Park led to more bad press for the amusement complex
The incident during which Mrs Pollard was shot by the arm on the Determine Eight Park led to extra unhealthy press for the amusement advanced

The controversy continued when it was reported that Determine Eight house owners had failed to tell the police of the incident.

That very same 12 months the park was taken over by Hitchens LTD an organization primarily based in Blackpool, the company oversaw Determine Eight throughout a very darkish interval in its historical past as all through the Thirties issues went from unhealthy to worse.

In 1930, three girls who have been working as fortune tellers on the park have been arrested for deceiving clients with claims that they may heal them of great illnesses and inform their future.

Ruth Walshaw, Lennie Ada Lister (often known as Madame I’Ada), and Bessie Mooritt (going by Madame Beulah) have been discovered responsible of dishonest folks out of funds and have been all fined ten shillings.

Crime appeared to be a typical theme on the park because it fell out of recognition. In 1933 5 watches have been stolen from a dishing out machine on the amusement park and 58-year-old John Williamson Wilkinson was despatched down for the crime.

Figure Eight Park attractions are dismantled and the complex moved to Marine Road West
Determine Eight Park points of interest are dismantled and the advanced moved to Marine Highway West

That very same 12 months a zoo was included within the points of interest at Determine Eight Park; the Morecambe Guardian reported that two monkeys escaped from their cages that October, offering amusement for the gang as keepers tried to retrieve the primates.

Determine Eight house owners continued to take a position big quantities of cash of their points of interest, splashing the money on an enormous function in 1934.

Eric the Whale, a pickled and stuffed whale corpse which had spent years on show in Southend-on-Sea, frolicked in Morecambe.

In accordance with data the 100-tonne whale was value £1,000 in 1931 (greater than £60,000 in at the moment’s cash).

However the decline of the park was seemingly inevitable.

Eric the whale came to Morecambe in the 1930s, the pickled whale was actually in the truck, with the plastic decorative whale atop the vehicle
Eric the whale got here to Morecambe within the Thirties, the pickled whale was really within the truck, with the plastic ornamental whale atop the automobile

The promenade had been broken by storms and the land surrounding Determine Eight Park was falling into dereliction. With the continued downturn in customer numbers it was dismantled someday in 1938 after the council accredited a £150,000 regeneration scheme for the Morecambe promenade (greater than £10m in at the moment’s cash).

A kids’s playground, eating places, and a cinema, have been attributable to substitute the previous web site.

However the Determine Eight Park would rise once more, mere months after it was dismantled the amusement advanced was resurrected nearer to Marine Highway West (the place the present Frontierland web site is).

The transfer was not common, the park was too near residential properties and lots of noticed the positioning as an annoyance. It’s right here that the “eyesore” feedback have been made by one resident and revealed within the Morecambe papers.

A sketch of the £150,000 Morecambe Promenade regeneration plan from 1938, this precipitated the end of the original Figure Eight Park
A sketch of the £150,000 Morecambe Promenade regeneration plan from 1938, this precipitated the top of the unique Determine Eight Park

In 1939, World Warfare II exploded into life throughout western Europe halting any critical enlargement or revival of the park.

From right here the park’s title appeared to alter and it was often known as Morecambe Pleasure Park. In the meantime, work continued on the costly renovation scheme to rework the previous Determine Eight Park web site (as of 1948 it nonetheless not been accomplished because the warfare had put the developments on maintain).

In some unspecified time in the future between the warfare’s starting and 1949 Leonard Thompson added the positioning to his Pleasure Seaside enterprise and constructed an ice dome on the new web site on Marine Highway West which opened in July of 1949.

One of many first productions staged there was Stars & Stripes, an American present placed on by one Bettina Merson.

Though there was an ice theatre on the park there’s proof it nonetheless operated as a fairground with numerous rides attracting 1000’s of summer time guests, together with the well-known Cyclone. In 1955 fireman battled a blaze on the park which started after a holiday-maker threw his cigarette butt onto a wood experience, inflicting a hearth that went up some 40 ft within the air.

Varied reveals appeared on the ice theatre till 1962, when the dome was made right into a bingo corridor after which a playsite known as Enjoyable Metropolis.

The new ice theatre at Morecambe Pleasure Park under construction before opening in 1949
The brand new ice theatre at Morecambe Pleasure Park underneath development earlier than opening in 1949

By the Nineteen Eighties customer numbers have been dwindling once more and, in an effort to avoid wasting the park, Leonard’s son Geoffrey Thompson, set about giving the positioning an entire and utter overhaul.

In 1986, Frontierland was born, impressed by the rising recognition of the Wild West in common tradition.

The likes of 80s blockbusters together with Heaven’s Gate, Bronco Billy, and Pale Rider, should have influenced the choice to overtake the theme park.

An attention-grabbing account of the work and energy that went into the positioning is reported within the Staffordshire Sentinel in November 1986.

The paper claimed that Pleasure Seaside director Tony Lee purchased 4 themed slot machines for the positioning at Sotheby’s public sale in Chester. One among them was within the form of a Native American Pink Indian, it price the director £2,200.

Frontierland didn’t take pleasure in a straightforward begin to life as a themed amusement park. On November 14, a hearth ripped by Enjoyable Metropolis, burning it to the bottom and inflicting £1m value of harm.

However the park would recuperate and rides just like the Silver Mine, the Texas Twister, and the Western Carousel, noticed guests flocking again to the park. Frontierland even hosted a magic stage present at its 500-seater theatre, the Saloon Bar.

Referred to as The Magical Expertise, the manufacturing ran for a number of seasons and was fronted by Damian Lloyd, a teenage sensation making a reputation for himself in leisure.

This manufacturing was later changed within the Nineties by the Excessive Stepping Nation Present, a western themed dance manufacturing.

Frontierland closed for good in 1999; the site has been unused for the past 22 years.
Frontierland closed for good in 1999; the positioning has been unused for the previous 22 years.

The Thompson household continued to introduce new rides and options to Frontierland all through the late Nineteen Eighties and Nineties.

Stampede curler coaster opened in 1988 having beforehand operated because the Cyclone at Blackpool pleasure seaside and in 1989, the Sky Experience was launched. This was a cable automobile system that may permit folks to fly over the park and out over the promenade.

On the time it price £20.50 for a household of 4 to benefit from the park, plus £16 for lunch. A Every day Mirror overview gave it a score of seven/10, calling Frontierland top-of-the-line amusement parks within the nation primarily based on worth for cash.

In 1993 Frontierland obtained the House Tower, a 150-foot (46 m) gyro tower, moved from Blackpool Pleasure Seaside.

Although the experience resulted in a major increase in customer numbers the experience was to be the final main funding on the park.

In July 1998, an incident at Frontierland made headlines when the previous wood Texas Twister experience was launched when the security bars have been nonetheless up, placing a number of punters in peril. A person known as Craig Bennett was on the experience along with his six-year-old daughter on the time and advised the Every day Mirror: “we may have been killed.”

Whether or not this PR nightmare was the ultimate straw for the positioning or not; 1998 heralded the top for Frontierland because it started to shut.

Three seasons of staged demolitions have been deliberate throughout the positioning and, because the park started to shrink, the Thompson household cashed in on their property, promoting the points of interest, and rides.

The High Stepping Country Show became a key event at Frontierland in the 90s
The Excessive Stepping Nation Present grew to become a key occasion at Frontierland within the 90s

Stampede was the primary to go earlier than the long-lasting large teacups have been moved to Pleasureland Southport, though they have been by no means put to make use of and have been disposed of in 2006.

In 1999, Frontierland’s decrease part was damaged up with Ghost Prepare and Runaway Mine Prepare, previously the Wild Mouse, repurposed. The latter would turn into King Solomon’s Mines and function at Pleasureland in Southport.

The 62-year-old wood Texas Twister loved its final outing that very same 12 months earlier than it was demolished in 2000.

1999 was to be the final 12 months Frontierland absolutely operated as a park with all its rides demolished, moved, or left dormant.

Frontierland lay derelict for 22 years before it was bought by Lancaster City Council
Frontierland lay derelict for 22 years earlier than it was purchased by Lancaster Metropolis Council

the remainder of the story.

The years of dereliction. Morrisons. The blue boards. The “eyesore” feedback as soon as once more.

In August, 2021, the Frontierland web site was purchased by Lancaster Metropolis Council with the hope that the land may as soon as once more be put to good use.

Let’s hope it’s.

What are your reminiscences of Frontierland? Do you keep in mind the positioning when it was Morecambe Pleasure Park? Share your reminiscences with us within the feedback.

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