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Dreamland – Margate secures new boost in funding

  • Date: 23 November 2009
  • Area: South East
Dreamland (featuring Margate Exodus)

Dreamland (featuring Margate Exodus). Credit: Matthew Andrews

Margate is celebrating the news that Dreamland, its derelict theme park, is to be brought back to life thanks to a £3.7m award from the Government's Sea Change programme.

The largest award in Wave 3, and one of only two large grants awarded nationally, this is a fantastic boost to Margate's regeneration plans.

This sizable investment will help create an exciting vintage theme park on the existing Dreamland site. Many of the park rides that will be installed there have been rescued from amusement parks across the UK over the last few years and some are the last surviving examples of their type.

Sea Change aims to place culture at the heart of the regeneration of England's seaside resorts by investing in the arts, public spaces, cultural assets and heritage projects. It is led by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space.

Pam Alexander, SEEDA Chief Executive, said:

'SEEDA is delighted with the announcement that the DCMS Sea Change programme is providing a large grant to take forward the development of the Dreamland heritage amusement park and the restoration of the Grade II* Cinema. It is another step in the transformational change taking place in Margate town centre which will bring substantial economic benefits to the area and create prosperity for Margate residents.'

It is hoped that the new Dreamland will create a major new visitor attraction in the heart of the town, kickstarting the tourism economy, generating jobs locally and attracting an anticipated 700,000 visits each year.

The rides will be built around the centre piece of the park, the Scenic Railway, which is the UK's oldest surviving wooden roller coaster, and fourth oldest in the world.

Dreamland originally opened in 1920 attracting thousands of visitors to Margate. It has gone through many transformations and at one time the site was threatened with closure and being turned into a retail and commercial site.  In 2005 Dreamland was sold to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company. In 2008 a fire broke out and the only remaining structure, the oldest wooden railed roller coaster, was badly damaged in the fire. A number of local residents saw it as part of their local heritage and formed the Save Dreamland Campaign.

The Save Dreamland Campaign worked in partnership with the owners Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, the Margate Renewal Partnership, The Dreamland Trust, and Thanet District Council. The feasibility work to develop the Sea Change bid was also supported by Kent County Council, SEEDA, English Heritage and Arts Council England with a shared goal of restoring the site to its former glory.

Arts Council England is delighted that Dreamland will play a significant part in Margate's regeneration over the next few years.

Richard Russell, Director of External Relations, Arts Council England, South East comments:

'As an active member of the Margate Renewal Partnership, Arts Council England is hugely supportive of Sea Change and delighted that Dreamland is set to play a crucial role in the creative and economic regeneration of Margate.

'We believe the arts and heritage are vital to developing a sustainable future for the town and the local community. Dreamland complements our investment in Turner Contemporary, which in turn adds both to the cultural vibrancy and economic viability of Margate.'

2011 looks set to be a momentous year for Margate, with both the Turner Contemporary and the rejuvenated Dreamland opening its doors, creating new opportunities for a revived cultural life in the seaside town.