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History of The Pleasure Beach Great Yarmouth

The Pleasure Beach entrance in the early days


History of the Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

The Pleasure Beach is one of East Anglia's largest attractions spread over 9 acres of land on South Beach Parade in Great Yarmouth. Today it is a mixture of modern and more traditional rides and attractions, suitable for all the family. But when people visit the fun fair, I wonder how many of them consider the historical element of this seaside resort? Dating back to 1909, it has over 100 years of history, and even has a Grade II listed ride there!

In 1909 C. B. Cochran was granted a lease for an amusement centre. That first amusement park had a scenic railway and not much else. Up until 1914 it did attract large amounts of people until it had to close for the war. The park re-opened in 1919 and by 1923 the Pleasure Beach was growing. That first scenic railway came to the end of its lease in 1929 and a water chute was build in its place. The water chute is no longer there now too. In 1932 the scenic railway which still stands today was built and is still enjoyed by thousands of tourists each year to this day. Pat Collins took over the running of the Pleasure Beach in 1928.

In 1954 the Botton Brothers, Jimmy and Albert, arrived at the fun fair. It was also in this year that the Gallopers (or merry-go-round) arrived at the Pleasure Beach. This is also still very popular today, and is the first ride you can see as you walk into the fun fair. By 1966 Albert Botton was now living in Great Yarmouth and had purchased the Pleasure Beach. Over the coming years Albert and Lottie continued to work and improve the fun fair. New rides were added each year and the fun fair as continued to grow and improve each year.

Jimmy Jones married Jane Botton, the daughter of Albert and Lottie Botton. And after the death of Albert, Jimmy took over as Managing Director in 1975. Over the coming years the fun fair expanded and new rides were being added all the time. In 1993, Jimmy's son, Albert Jones took over the role of Managing Director and is still in charge of the park today with his family. The Pleasure Beach has seen new and exciting rides over the years taking it into the 21st century. But with old rides still in use, like the Roller Coaster and Gallopers, it still has that traditional feel to it. In 1996 The Pleasure Beach Gardens was added to the expansion of the park at the north side of the fun fair.

This is a photo of the fun fair in 1924.

This is a photo of the fun fair in 1924.

The roller coaster as it is today.


The Scenic Railway

The Scenic Railway, or roller coaster as it is more commonly known, is a wooden roller coaster and arrived at the Pleasure Beach in 1932. This particular roller coaster is the only one of its kind in England and only 1 of 8 in the world. It is also a Grade 2 listed building. It is also unique in the fact that it is 1 of only 2 remaining roller coaster where a 'breakman' is needed on the roller coaster as there are no breaks on the track.

In 1929 Pat Collins, who owned the Pleasure Beach at the time, visited Paris and went to the Colonial Exhibition. The Scenic Railway was designed by German Herr Erich Heidrich. Pat bought the ride and shipped the parts back to the UK. Once construction had completed, it opened to the public in April 1932. It is about 46 ft in length and 100 ft in width. The highest point is 70 ft above ground level. Just as a fun fat, part of the 1982 song House of Fun video by Madness is shot on this ride.

One of the more modern rides on the park.


The Helter Skelter c1950


Final thoughts and summary

With the Pleasure Beach having over 100 years of history to its name, and being in the same family for over 60 years, I like the fact there are a lot of old, traditional rides along with new rides. This might be a place to go to for fun and excitement, but I love that there's so much history to it with the roller coaster and Gallopers especially. There are other rides on the park which are old too, like the Fun House and Dodgems. Although these rides and attractions are old, they are still so popular. People still get enjoyment from them when they visit Great Yarmouth on holiday.

Having worked at the Pleasure Beach for about 7 years, I found it a fun and exciting job. Although only seasonal work, it is fun and the fact that every day is different makes it more enjoyable. I love how it's steeped in history and how it is blended in with modern day rides and technology.


The Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

© 2017 Louise Powles


Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on August 02, 2017:

Living in Southend where we have our own 'Adventure Island' pleasure park, I am of course familiar with these kind of seaside resorts. I must admit funfairs and rollercoasters are not exactly my 'cup of tea' - though I can certainly understand why you found working in a park like this, a fun job.

But like you, I'd say the history aspect is particularly interesting. These days many of us are spoiled by the opportunities to take holidays in exotic climes, but 50 to 100 years ago most who lived in the cities or toiled all year long in hard manual labour jobs, down the mines etc, couldn't even imagine travelling to abroad, and a weekend or an annual break at the British seaside was really the highlight of the year, and something to really look forward to. As such, places like this must have brought more happiness to more people than almost anything else.

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Glen Rix from UK on July 02, 2017:

It's many years since I visited Yarmouth, so thanks for he memories. We had relatives at Lowestoft so usually combined visits to both places. ( I was a timid child and restricted myself to the carousel and Helter Skelter).

DEBANGEE MANDAL from India on June 05, 2017:

Really interesting place to visit. The place really looks pleasing, especially because you described it so well.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on May 30, 2017:

Interesting history, Louise! Thanks for sharing it as well as the wonderful pictures!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 27, 2017:

This was an interesting read. I bet it was fun to work there.....

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 19, 2017:

This sounds like an enjoyable place to visit. I generally don't go on the rides at fairs, but I do like to look at them and see people having fun.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on May 19, 2017:

The closest I came was by going to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, USA. Lots of fun then.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 19, 2017:

Never heard the carousels called 'Gallopers' before which surprises me as it's an obvious name! I hate today's fun fairs but am happy to visit the traditional rides, like the carousels and the dodgems - loved trying to catch my Dad and bump into him; they don't like that these days, do they? You can't do anything impulsive any more! I'm chicken though and don't go on the roller coasters etc, 'cos I don't like being made to feel ill!

I've never been to Great Yarmouth. There's a huge chunk of the east of England that I know little about, having lived mainly in the south or the south-west. Must visit.

Great hub, full of the fun of the fair!

Ann :)

Claire-louise on May 19, 2017:

I used to love going there as a child!

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on May 18, 2017:

Very interesting to read of the history, Louise. Thanks for sharing.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 18, 2017:

What a nice place to visit that is filled with history as it was passed through the family. I wasn't familiar with the term pleasure beach.

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