Tuesday, April 08, 2008

7/4 - A Day To Remember

When I saw Dreamland's Scenic Railway on fire yesterday I felt sick to my stomach. Yet another piece of Thanet's heritage up in flames. Watching the smoke hang over the town is a sight I will never forget. Fortunately there was no loss of life, but even so it all seemed as vivid as 9/11.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and rightly so. It constitutes nothing less than an act of terrorism against the people of Margate, a town already on its knees. The Scenic was synonymous with Dreamland, and Dreamland was synonymous with Margate. The town used to be a place where people came for a fun day out. Now it's nothing more than a sick joke. It's fast becoming the arson capital of the UK, and much of what hasn't been burnt to the ground is boarded up.

Unlike a terrorist act, however, I doubt that any substantial resources will be applied in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice. As in the past, we're unlikely ever to know who the culprit was, as there is a strong suspicion that the local police and the council are, to put it very mildly, less than motivated.

Personally I would like to see this crime investigated by a senior police officer from outside Thanet, preferably from outside Kent. I would also like to see a full, independent audit of the council's conduct over the development of the Dreamland site, as happened following the May 1998 fire at Pleasurama in Ramsgate. They will bleat that it was 'out of their hands because Dreamland was privately owned.' Bollocks. It's a prime, seafront site in Thanet's largest town, and through woeful dithering, collusion and incompetence they have let it rot, then burn down.

Meanwhile, the Save Dreamland Campaign say that only 25% of the Scenic's track has been destroyed and that, seeing as it was a Grade II listed structure, it should and will be restored. It may seem harsh, but my response to that is 'dream on'. Who's going to pay for it? And how many other listed buildings in Thanet have been destroyed and restored? Brighton's West Pier was a Grade I listed building, and that's been a rusting hulk since the 90s. Sorry and all that, but it just ain't gonna happen.

So on a much more practical and realistic level, may I suggest that we commemorate this dark day in our history with an annual 7/4 bonfire on Margate's beach? We could even put an effigy on the top. Any suggestions as to who?


Anonymous said...

incredibly sad, typical Thanet but seriously, 9/11?

Anonymous said...

i think comparing it to 9/11 is a bit, no a lot, over the top. It was an unused fairground ride that was, as you said left to rot. Lets just hope they build something decent on the site and not just a load of 'luxury flats'.

Eastcliff Richard said...

Don't be daft. I'm not actually saying that in the global scheme of things the fire compares with 9/11. I am saying that for somebody who actually lives here, who saw the coaster on fire, who remembers happy childhood summers riding on it, the sight will remain in my memory just as vividly as those TV pictures of the planes going into the World Trade Center.

Peter Checksfield said...

I agree, this is something we should remember & commemorate yearly. A sad day indeed.

Anonymous said...

Re - 9/11 reference, calm down people, hold on, I'm sure its a visual reference.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the police put up an instant website with pictures of these dreadful fires? If ECR can do it they could to.

We know arsonists love to see their handywork and we know that their 'trails of breadcrumbs' can be followed. Everyone who visited the site could be followed up. Or is that too clever for our local plods?

Anonymous said...

every smoke cloud has a silver lining especially if your name is ----- ------

Margate Architecture said...

Who's comparing it to 9/11? No one! ECR only made a ref to the date 7/4. And it is important to Margate and respect for our cultural heritage. But back to the subject matter:

The building is listed and therefore should be afforded a degree of protection. Surely, being a wooden structure that has been regularly photographed in detail, that rebuilding it isn't an impossibility? Also, is it not insured? I own a Grade II listed building in Margate and my rebuild costs for insurance are more than double the value of the property.

I'm really concerned at the impact that arson attacks like this have on the town. But we can't let the sharks beat us. This is our town!

messchersmit pilot's severed hand. said...

Well it had to be the most obvious case of not if but when.
i aggree there should be an investigation using non-bent coppers or at least non-mason.
And no more shitty flats please...

Anonymous said...

A couple of clips here...


Anonymous said...

What is it about all these fires in amusement arcades and seafront leisure facilities? It's almost as if one person were behind it all, masterminding an enormous insurance scam.
Clearly though, they're just repeated, separate incidents with the same modus operandii but with no common motive whatsoever definitely perpetrated by individuals working in isolation. I can't stress that highly enough.

Yours, Jimmy Goodun

Anonymous said...

If you go here:


(copy and paste it into your address bar)
scroll down, you will find an entry at 4.15. Click on it and it describes the railway as being on fire. This must be VERY soon after the fire started. Whoever posted this was rather quick off the mark don't you think? He has also deleted himself from Wiki as soon as he posted it.

Anonymous said...

Make that the entry at 16.12.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine any sane developer pushing ahead with 1-2 bed flats in the current economic climate, even for BTL. I imagine this site will remain barren now for a few more years yet until it's more viable to do something with it.

Tom said...

No one knows yet what has happened in this case. If the suggestions on here are right then the perpetrators deserve to be investigated and a case put before the CPS to consider if evidence exists. That I would suggest is some way off if indeed a crime has been committed. If people have to cheat to make money (i.e. burn down infrastructure, fiddle their taxes, break the law as examples) and not deal with problems that stand in their way of turning a profit within the legal framework that exists then 1) They're not much of a businessman/woman, 2) their contempt is criminal, especially when they know emergency services will be diverted away from unforseen genuine emergencies 3) makes them beneath contempt for all the reasons above. Whether anyone has 'cheated' on this occasion remains to be seen. Its easy to be emotive and in away the damage caused is the last landmark and emotive link with the heyday of Margate's past. Those days though are in the past. In the scenario that someone has cheated for financial gain the galling thing is that someone responsible makes money from all of this and gets away with it. Any proof of a crime committed that leads to arrests in such scenarios as those mentioned can then lead to a seizure of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 where a financial benefit is proven. It can get rather complicated but I suggest for anyone interested they read R v Hussein at http://www.rahmanravelli.co.uk/confiscation-orders-december2006.html. If the burning of the scenic railway is arson ideally the site left vacant ought to be used for a quality visitor attraction or attractions, both fun and educational, the railway is gone, we ought not rebuild it. The perpetrators, if they exist, should be made to suffer financially as well as loose their liberty. If this is a genuine AOG then so be it.

Anonymous said...

TDC investigate?

Kent Police investigate?

Dream on! they are only interested in nice easy parking tickets and speed cameras tickets. there's little chance of them investiating their own, they might find something.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's Listed and Listed buildings have been known to be repaired before now after dreadful fires.




Anonymous said...

All your seaside heritage is now burnt and buried. Typical of Thanet you did not realise what you had until you finished setting fire to it or demolishing it. A seaside town needs seaside attractions - it has worked around the world and closer to home it works in Brighton and Southend. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

Hey - don't blame all of Thanet!

Some people have worked hard and long to save seaside heritage.

Jethro Nutt said...

Terrorism? Doesn't terrorism have to, y'know, terrify people? I can't imagine many people shuddering and double-locking their door because someone set fire to the Scenic Railway. We're made of sterner stuff round here, as the Luftwaffe and the Welsh will testify.

Notwithstanding the limp-wristed hysteria of the original post, it is a sad day for Margate. My grandfather worked in BemBom Brothers (as it was then), and was responsible for painting the big wheel and maintenance of the Scenic Railway among other things. (He also wrestled the gorillas that were resident there at one stage).

The story of him placing my "precocious" father on the ride and leaving him stranded at the top for 2 hours is family folklore. I myself have ridden it a great number of times too.

I hope it can be repaired, and hopefully relocated to somewhere where it will be more appreciated, or at least safe.

Anonymous said...

Amusment park? Shady goings on? Mysterious local figures?

Scooby scooby doo, where are you?

Michael Child said...

The dreamland site as an amusement park and car park, is probably worth about £1,000,000 with 400 apartments on it at £200,000 each this figure rises to £80,000,000 it’s a game of Monopoly and we are all losing.

The crux of the problem here though is to find a solution to the problem that property developers and big chain retailers stand to gain enormous sums of money from the destruction of our towns.

Had Dreamland Pleasurama our shops the protection afforded to any field of cabbages i.e. whatever the owner would like to build on it, it stays a field of cabbages or some other crop, there would be no problem.

As it is our towns, the human environment, are turning to architecturally attractive housing estates, with all the social problems of housing estates.

At the moment the value of residential accommodation is much greater than that of the same space being used for shops and leisure facilities and car parking, the only solution is government legislation protecting the non residential parts of our towns.

I urge you all to write to your MPs asking for legislation to protect what we have left, at the moment if a local authority turns down plans to turn any of our facilities into more residential accommodation, the developer can go on appealing until the local authority runs out of money to defend the appeals.

However the legislation needs to be strong enough and so heavily weighted towards the maintenance of such facilities that still exist as to overcome the problem where corruption exists at a local level.

Shinguard said...

The Dreamland park as we knew it including the scenic railway is gone for good and that's a fact.

Like it or not, there will be a large residential build on the site and even though there will be a big fall in house prices there still is a demand for property in such a prime location.

I just hope that TDC will now make sure that a good part of the site is set aside for a state of the art tourist attraction such as water park combined with a music cafe for young people, bars for adults a good restaurant and facilities for young families.

Hopefully something good might come out of this fire, If I'm absolutely honest I'm glad to see the back of the old rusting rotting scenice railway, it's day had come and gone and was really just a fond memory for some and a major problem for developers and Thanet council alike.

Anonymous said...

i'm with shibguard on this one I'm afraid. Sorry it had to go the way it did but maybe now there'll be something a bit 'live' in the area!

Anonymous said...

Thanet has issued a press release, satating it will be pressing for a rebuild of this nationally importnat structure.

The site is designated an amusement park and that's what a public inquiry concluded too.

Some enabling development will be allowed - if the Scenic isn't insured the cash for a rebuild can be got from that.

Anonymous said...

PS - the Scenic was neither rusting (it's wood in the main...) nor rotting. It could have been in operation again this season with very little work for a safety cert.

Shinguard said...

If you speak to young families and kids in the area the last thing they want is a rebuild of the scenic railway or a second rate amusement park with heritage rides.

Most of the people calling for the scenic railway to be rebuilt will be councillors talking through gritted teeth or 50 year old men having a burst of nostalgia.

Let's move forward and see this fantastic site developed properly with an all year tourist attraction, intelligent design, a mixture of up market and affordable housing and with local people in mind.

Anonymous said...

its all down to back handers, everyone knows who is behind it, the council could of easily brought the dreamland site, instead there investing 40 million in the the turner art centre, the only artists in thanet are piss artists!! Margate VIP

Anonymous said...

One more for the road....TDC are not investing 40 million in the Turner centre (yawn)

If you think housing or apartments built there will be for local people, you are mistaken.

Shinguard said...

Isn't it true that if someone buys a property and moves in, they become a local?

Lets get real, the developers aren't going to build a council estate are they!

Ramsgate Tez said...

i resent that shinguard, im 15 an i rode the scenic railway for at least 5 years before it closed. its part of Thanet's heritage so therefore should be rebuilt as it was the only thing which bought people into margate. now this has gone margate will go farther downhill that anyone imagined.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Let's be honest, if it was rebuilt do you really think people will flock to Margate just for that?

I spent the summer of 1990 working there when I was at school, and it was mobbed every day. Not because of the Scenic Railway, but because of all the other stuff - Looping Star, Big Wheel, Mary Rose, Enterprise, River Caves, Sphinx, the giant slide you went down in sacks (proper oldschool!) and all that.

It's been allowed to run down year after year, the pics I saw yesterday showed a desolate rollercoaster on fire in a huge tarmac and concrete wasteland. Rebuilding won't recapture the glory days.

The thing that really f***s me off is how someone just gets away with this time and time again. I mean, having the audacity to burn down an arcade a few years back (which was apparently filled with brand new machines 24hrs before it was burnt down to maximise the insurance claim) which now provides a handy access route to a development site, it's all part of one big plan that's focused entirely on one individual making as much money as possible with f*** all consideration for anyone or anything else.

TDC should be ashamed of themselves for letting this happen.

Peter Checksfield said...

According to Meridian news, the police are "looking for a motive"!!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

TDC should have done more, and secured the future of the site. TDC has allowed our town to decline, this could have been avoided. Too much resources have been spent on the turnip centre, and both our town centre and the seafront has been left to rot. There is no reason why anybody wants to come to Margate, no shops, no amusements, a crap exhibition in the m&s building, expensive parking. And a town that also has alot of teenagers with nothing to do.

Anonymous said...

For the knob head council arse licking gooden lover who wrote this:

"One more for the road....TDC are not investing 40 million in the Turner centre (yawn)

If you think housing or apartments built there will be for local people, you are mistaken."

Thanet council has spend 9 million on plans, and it will cost a further 30 million plus to build this is not some random figue this is direct from the freedom of information reports.

Dream land could of been brought for less then this!

Anonymous said...

How about getting together a march on TDC with a petition.
Thanet has always been apathetic perhaps this is the knee jerk reaction that is now required.
Most of the older cynics among us believe that this will now be housing. To be elite though, more on the front will have to go. WOuld you want to live behind arcades?

Millicent said...

Definitely arson according to BBC Newsroom SE at 6.30.

I walked up Margate High Street today - not a soul in the Art Gallery at the ex-Marks and Spencer store.

Rick said...

Re 9 11

ECR re Scenic Railway thinks he has grounds to demand an investigation by officers from outside Kent Police.

From 1987 reports to Kent Police alleging sabotage of backup generator systems were refused crime complaint status by Kent Police.

One matter (actually reported for me by Roger Evans MP a tory minister and barrister) concerned diesel fuel transfer systems.

The back up generator in a building has what the Americans call a "Day tank". A local tank to the diesel generator. Rather like a lavoatory cistern when diesel leaves the local tank it is replenished via pipework in the building by fuel pumped from a main storage tank accessible to road tanker lorries.

In UK since 87 a number of rogue operations of fuel transfer systems have been reported (always for Kent Police to refuse to investigate). These take basically two forms:

(1) The failure to pump and replenish the local tank. The effect is in a real emergency that the back up power initia;lly works but stalls after about twenty minutes. If this happens at an A and E hospital during a real power cut emergency then the hospital appears to be able to receive trauma but the emergency power to hospital suddenly fails just at the height of initial trauma clearance. Guys for example has experienced the depayed stall TWICE.

(2) The continuous pump. This for example has happened at Credit Suisse Bank in London. The diesel transfer system overpumps and the result is diesel penetrating the building where in a fire situation it represents a continuously pumped accelerant.

AND SO TO 9 11

Tower Seven got the continuous pump situation and 12000 gallons of diesel was pumped into the fires ensuing from the Twin Towers collapse. This caused the collapse of the third tower.

So for the clever dickies in Thanet who have sneered at the irritating bloke blaming Thanet Police for everything from internatiomnal terrorism etc.

YES the case can be made that if Kent Police had done their duty properly the result as early as 1987 would have been that FBI would have been informed of a suspect pre sabotage technique or inherent danger by which a diesel accelerant can be pumped into a terrorist attack fire.

So yes. There is a link between 9 11 and the abysmal anti terrorist performance of Kent Police.

If they had done their job properly at least the authorities in USA might have known to regularly check fuel transfer signalling and pumping systems.

IF ever the USA succeeds in their attempts to extradite Sean Garland, of the IRA Garland sabotage plan, I feel sure that he would not be questioned only about dollar forgeries and Panorama exposes.

If it helps in an argument that Kent Police should not investigate the Thanet fire because they are incompetent and in some cases subject of common law informations of Misprision of Treason ... then by all means cite 9 11 and Guys (especially the child death at Guys in 1995 when backup genny failure cut power to post op ICU)

Were Thanet Police supposed to have a protective presence given the DV8 situation ?

I should add that years ago there was a suspicion that car burnouts (earner burners done to order) may have been carried out by a man somehow immune to Thanet Police inquiry. Surely not an AA man and special constable milord ?

Anonymous said...

Chatting to my brother he mentioned something about Godden or a member of his family being kidnapped at some point.
Anyone recall this?

Eric said...

Is it just me or does everybody have trouble fully understanding what Rick is going-on about? I’ve been reading his stuff over the last two years or so & find it incredibly ambiguous & cryptic.

I don't know where to begin in responding to his comments. I’ve only been in Thanet for the last seven years, for me the deliberate destruction of the Scenic Railway is a relatively significant juncture. I certainly acknowledge that there have historically been more significant instances of corruption/incompetence but many of those cited where prior to my family’s presence in the area, I have previously, however, been an active campaigner in issues concerning ‘working-class’ heritage in Brighton & Southend. I do think, however, that we have now arrived at a cross roads where it is incumbent upon us to do something tangible!

UpThePunx said...

Eric - it's not just you; I've read Rick's comment above twice and can't make head nor tail of it.

I've just had a glance at his blog and it appears to be equally unilluminating.

stuart said...

Anon 6.35 who started the post so politely with:

For the knob head council arse licking gooden lover who wrote this...


Anonymous said...

I haven't got the time - and definitely not the energy - but someone could do a search of all the blog and message board archives and see just how many times we have been told about IRA activities here several decades ago, historic police corruption and one or two other stories - I suppose he (Rick, Coptopper or whatever he calls himself today) has them in a file and has the need to copy and paste it in to a blog at least once a week. If he actually retypes this twaddle every time, then he's really needs to find another hobby...

Shame it's illiterate, unintelligible and uninteresting to everyone except him. But that's freedom of publishing on the internet for you... Very hard to look forward if you're stuck in the past.

Eastcliff Richard said...

He also has a theory that he sowed the seeds of February's Thanet blog wars by deliberately using the word 'Gippo' in a comment on Thanet Life last year, which I strongly objected to at the time. In fact he has a theory of everything and claims to have an IQ of a trillion.

Crikey, you don't think he's Stephen Hawking, do you?

Seriously Rick/Irritating Bloke/Coppertop, we have heard all your allegations before, you do have your own blog now, you have been told to keep your comments on topic (and by that I mean to the point, not via some spurious connection), and I've told you before I'll have to start deleting these long-winded diatribes if they continue.

I'm certainly not against conspiracy theories, and have peddled a few myself in my time, but really this isn't the place for repeating them over and over again. I know you have a past perspective on Thanet (not actually living here these days) and it is sometimes a good thing to be reminded that the island has a long, dishonourable history of corruption (Cyril Hoser etc.), but with respect we don't need it attached to every single post.

Observer said...

Now heres one for the pot,,,
I dont know who provides the err, 'security' at the Dreamland site now but it used to be the folks mentioned in this post !!

moving on to the conspiricy theory,,,The Labour Group on TDC has proposed that all serving Thanet Councillors should voluntarily submit themselves to a CRB check so the Thanet Citiziens can be assured that our Councillors are pure as driven snow.
For one million pounds guess what the ruling Tory Group have decided,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

no you cant phone a friend, ask the audience or take away two wrong answers !!!

Anonymous said...

Seems like every man and his dog has to be CRB checked these days except our elected officials who make the multi-million pound decisions that affect our lives. Scandalous.

Anonymous said...

every single person in Thanet knows exactly what the now yearly arson attacks are all about. I was hoping that the higher profile of the scenic railway insurance job sorry arson attack would get some outside interest from a less corrupt perspective than say one or two local businessmen and the council etc. They wanted it burnt to free up the space for get rich quick schemes. How about James Godden on the bonfire every year. Good post btw richard it nice to see you getting passionate about this issue. and fuck the lawyers etc it's time to get together and stand up to the corruption. James

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eastcliff Richard said...

Sorry, anon 2:20am, I've had to delete that. Too specific a suggestion.