by Peter Andrews
After months – and indeed years – of legal proceedings, court cases and appeals, Dreamland Margate opened its doors on 16 November after an emotional ribbon cutting ceremony.
The event was a resounding success with over 2,300 people attending to view the remains of the Scenic Railway and to engage the public in what the project hopes to achieve and how they can help.
Initial plans could be reviewed as well as participating in actions like ‘Plant a seed for Dreamland’ and an opportunity to sign up as a volunteer and be part of the ‘Big Clear Day’.
Following on from the momentum of this very successful opening day, Saturday 30 November saw the first of the Volunteer Days at the derelict Dreamland Margate site.
Approximately 50 people gathered at the gates under the Scenic Railway on a crisp autumnal day armed with a plethora of gardening equipment including shovels and brooms to start the first of many Volunteer Days.
After a brief safety speech advising which areas were accessible, high-vis jackets were handed out and everyone was signed into the site.
Due to Health and Safety and insurance concerns, parts of the site were not accessible; this included the Scenic Railway compound as this is classed as a derelict site.
Other concerns for the Scenic Railway site is the invasive Japanese Knotweed which requires specialist removal.
The day was going to be about helping with the drainage of the site because of the amount of moss and plants that were growing, which has been an issue and therefore today’s task was to clear this from one part of the site.
Everyone was then ushered into the heart of Dreamland and the enormity of the task began to seep into all of the volunteer’s minds!
With the sun beating down and the historic remains of Dreamland acting as a majestic backdrop, the team got to work clearing the plant debris.
Young and old
The event was attended by a mixture of young and old and a great team spirit was quickly reached which saw great swaths of overgrown areas being cleared and the debris moved to an ever increasing compost heap next to the Scenic Railway.
Throughout the day there was the chance to talk to various people from the Dreamland Trust and find out more about the project, and this included:
- The Trust are in the process of receiving tenders for the re-construction of the Scenic Railway, with work expected to start in February / March 2014.
- A visitor centre will be opened in the old Dreamland cinema next year which will allow people to see the current stage of the project and provide an opportunity to participate in a guided tour of the site.
- More volunteer days are currently in the planning stage for February 2014, with further dates planned later in the year.
Wandering through the site gave an impression of how big the scale of the project will be and just how much work is needed.
Various rides that are currently being stored on the site were seen as the group ventured further into the site with more surprises around every corner
This included seeing the Whip, which was donated by Blackpool Pleasure Beach, along with part of a cable car system and what appeared to be a grass cutter Twist and also, tucked away next to this was part of the Wild Mouse from the defunct parks at Morecambe and Southport.
Refreshments were provided to the team in the form of tea and coffee with generous donations of doughnuts, mince pies and shortbread cookies which helped ease the aches and pains!
‘Long hard road’
After what seemed like no time at all and due to fading light, the Dreamland Trust advised that the day was coming to an end.
As the group walked past the compost heap and turned around to look back up the site, it was amazing to see what had been achieved by working together, one side of Dreamland now cleared back to the paths in a relatively short period of time.
With a final word of thanks from the Dreamland Trust organisers, the hi-vis jackets were handed back, everyone signed out and said their goodbyes whilst heading back underneath the majestic Scenic Railway in the car park.
As the sun dipped behind the shattered remains of the Scenic, the group left the site with high spirits and a sense of achievement within their hearts.
Will Dreamland rise from the ashes like a phoenix from the flames? You better believe it and roll on 2015!
Dreamland has started on the long and hard road to achieve a 2015 opening and there will be more events next year.
If you want to get involved and help Dreamland, please sign up as a volunteer by contacting the Dreamland Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org