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History of The Pleasure Beach Great Yarmouth

Updated on July 26, 2017

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.

Source
This is a photo of the fun fair in 1924.
This is a photo of the fun fair in 1924. | Source

The roller coaster as it is today.

Source

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 Roller Coaster Ride

The Pleasure Beach, Great Yarmouth

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    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 2 weeks ago from Essex, UK

      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.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glenis Rix 6 weeks ago from UK

      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 profile image

      DEBANGEE MANDAL 2 months ago from India

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

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

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

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 months ago from Southern Illinois

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

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

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

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 months ago from SW England

      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 profile image

      Claire Raymond 3 months ago from UK

      I used to love going there as a child!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 months ago from Queensland Australia

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      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.