For our latest Curiosity of the Week, we thought we’d bring you a bit of cheery escapism in the form of fairground rides!
We’re all dreaming of getting away on holiday again, of sunny beaches and family days out. But, whilst we’re all stuck at home, we thought we’d take a trip to Blackpool. So, come with us as we journey through the history of fairground rides.
Blackpool is well-known for it’s cheap and cheerful hedonism. All glittering lights, chips, donkey rides and of course the Pleasure Beach. But, according to Historic England, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has some of the finest examples of historic rides in Europe.
Historic rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
You may not know this, but Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach was Britain’s first enclosed seaside amusement park. And amidst all the modern thrills, it still contains some early 20th century rides. One of those even boasts the claim of being the oldest ride in continuous use in Europe. So, it’s not all about the highest, fastest and scariest rides!
The Pleasure Beach’s oldest attraction is the Flying Machines ride. This classic centrifugal rocket ride has had some updates over the years, but is essentially the same fun ride that visitors were enjoying in 1904! These ‘flying machines’ were originally known as Sir Hiram Maxim’s Captive Flying Machine, which sounds rather formal and grand for a fairground ride by today’s standards.
But, Blackpool Pleasure Beach offers us more of a wander through fairground history as it features a variety of ‘heritage’ rides dating from 1904 to 1935. The River Caves date from 1904-1905, and is the next oldest ride after the Flying Machines.
But there are also four inter-war rollercoasters still going strong. The Big Dipper (1923); the Roller Coaster, which now goes by the name of Nickelodeon Streak (1933); the Little Dipper, which you may know as the Blue Flyer (1934); and the Grand National (1935). According to Historic England, the Grand National is Britain’s only surviving twin-track, racing rollercoaster. And if you go for a ride on this historic rollercoaster, you’ll set off from the original art deco station.
Next time you visit Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, take a look at the old, but classic rollercoasters which are now somewhat dwarfed by The Big One. Have a ride and look out for the original features still present in the fairground. And look out for the information signs outside the oldest rides, to learn a bit more about this quirky bit of history.
And I bet you thought Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach was just a modern thrillseekers paradise. It’s not a place you’d immediately think of as a heritage site, but there you have it.
If you enjoyed reading this, we’ve got more quirky bits of history here!
We are always on the lookout for interesting customs, hidden places, and unique buildings and landmarks, to share with our readers. If you have an idea for Curiosity of the Week then please do get in touch, we welcome suggestions from everyone. You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message via Facebook.