Pleasure Beach

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On 8th March 1909, Great Yarmouth Beach Amusements Ltd. was granted for a term of five years, by the Corporation, a lease on a strip of land 600 feet long by 120 feet wide, for a Scenic Railway and two side-shows, one of which was the Katzenjammer Castle and the second the Merry Widow Waltzer.  Charles Blake Cochran, manager of the Gem (now the Windmill) was to administer this venture.  In May 1910, the River Caves under the Scenic Railway were constructed.  In 1911, it was decided to dispose of the Katienjammer Castle and replace it with the Joywheel.  


In the golden days before the First World War the British public enthusiastically embraced the idea of a holiday with pay and the August Bank Holiday of 1912 saw 26,000 holidaymakers come by train from the Midlands alone.  A certain J. A. Chalkley, who had carried out similar work at Blackpool, added a mountain effect to the Scenic Railway, out of pink quick drying plaster.  It was then given the more worthy title of the Royal Mountain Scenic Railway.  Beneath the mountain was a fairyland of rocks and grottos, lit by thousands of electric lights, and the River Caves, beloved by many courting couples.  In April 1919, just when people were getting ready for their first post-war holiday, the Scenic Railway was gutted by fire, along with the River Caves and the Joywheel. The fire was wrongly blamed on the Suffragette movement, although the cause was never discovered. A tremendous re-building effort saw the Scenic Railway completed by August 1919, but it was only to last another nine years.


In 1929, a Mr. Pat Collins took over the running of the Pleasure Beach, and the lease ended on the Scenic Railway, so another major attraction had to be found.  In 1929, a Colonial Exhibition was held in Paris, where a huge Scenic Railway was on show, designed and built by Erich Heidrich, and owned by a showman, Hugo Hans.  He was persuaded to sell this massive structure, believed to have been for £12,000 to £13,000, and it was ready for the 1932 Great Yarmouth season. 

 

Today, the scenic railway is the only remaining ride of its kind in the United Kingdom and one of only eight in the world.  It is one of only two remaining roller-coasters where a brakeman is required to ride with the train to control its speed, as there are no brakes on the track.  It is the second tallest and second fastest wooden roller-coaster in the United Kingdom.