With today’s upgrade for Dreamland’s Scenic Railway from Grade II to Grade II*, a rating that is reserved for the top 6% of listed structures in the UK, the Arlington proposal is now arguably of national importance. The development of the site will directly affect sites that are on the national register and two of which are Grade II*. The Scenic Railway and The Dreamland Cinema.
Detail on the listed status of the Scenic Railway:
“Reasons for Designation
The Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate, built in 1920 by JH Iles for his new American-style amusement park is recommended for listing at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Rarity: it is the oldest surviving roller coaster in Britain and is of international importance as the second oldest in Europe and amongst the five oldest in the world of this prominent C20 entertainment structure; * Design: Scenic railways are amongst the earlier types of roller coaster design and it is an internationally important surviving example of this technology; * Townscape value: as an important and evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts, and Dreamland, its principal amusement park ; * Group value: it groups with Dreamland’s other listed buildings the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie.”
The Arlington site is directly affects Dreamland. The side of the proposed superstore faces Dreamland and the listed menagerie alongside.
One more reason why, now this application has come back to TDC for a decision to ask that this matter be considered.
TDC’s Press Release also outlines just how important these seafront locations are to a town like Margate. Yet, so important they decided to allow the UK’s first seafront superstore to wreck any future enjoyment of it.
“Scenic Railway listed status upgraded
Margate’s Scenic Railway, the iconic centrepiece of one of Britain’s best loved amusement parks, Dreamland, has had its listing upgraded to Grade II*, putting it into the top 6% most important listed buildings in the country.
The move was made by English Heritage, following an application from Thanet District Council. English Heritage describes the Scenic Railway as being of “more than special historic importance”, saying that its “special interest is clear and its survival is remarkable”.
The structure is one of only two amusement rides in the country to be listed, the other being the water chute on the boating lake at East Park, Hull. The Scenic Railway was the first ride to be so protected, in 2002. It is the oldest surviving roller coaster in the country, the second oldest in Europe and the fourth oldest in the world. Of the 111 wooden roller coasters erected in Britain up to the Second World War, only six now survive, and no examples remain of the approximately 250 scenic railways once in existence in the United States. This is something recognised by English Heritage, who comment that it “has claims to international importance being amongst the five oldest of this predominant and evocative twentieth century entertainment structure in the world.”
English Heritage also says that it has considered the location of the Scenic Railway along Margate’s seafront. They comment that “buildings quintessentially associated with its development as a major seaside resort have an added significance.”
Scenic railways are distinct from other types of roller coaster because they have a brakeman who rides with the train and controls its speed. The only other example of this type of ride in Britain is at Great Yarmouth and dates from 1932, but is much altered.
The Dreamland Trust is building the world’s first amusement park of thrilling historic rides at Dreamland Margate and aims to preserve this important part of British popular culture and amusement park heritage.
Restoration of the Scenic Railway will be at the heart of this multi-million pound project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sea Change and Thanet District Council. It forms part of Margate’s regeneration programme spearheaded earlier this year with the opening of the Turner Contemporary gallery, which has already attracted in excess of 100,000 visitors to the town in just three months.
The Trust’s Chairman, Nick Laister said; “It is wonderful news that the Scenic Railway listing has been upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*. The Scenic Railway was listed Grade II in March 2002, and this amendment to its status is an entirely appropriate recognition for this rare and vulnerable structure. It puts the Scenic Railway into the top 6% most important listed buildings in the country. This is a great springboard for the restoration works that will be starting on the ride over the coming months.”
Cllr. Simon Moores from Thanet District Council, said: “We’re delighted at this news, as the Scenic Railway thoroughly deserves its upgraded listing status. It’s become something of an icon for both local people and visitors to Dreamland over the years, who have fond memories of the time they spent here. It’s exceptionally well loved and will be a stunning centrepiece when Dreamland Margate opens to the public.”
The Dreamland site is already home to two other listed structures, the Grade II* Cinema and Grade II listed menagerie cages. English Heritage cites this as a further reason for the upgrade to the Scenic Railway’s listing. Dreamland Margate is due to open to the public in 2013.