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Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Established 1896)

 Organisation

Biography

Blackpool Pleasure Beach was founded in 1896 by A.W.G. Bean and John Outhwaite.

The original Pleasure Beach was a small entertainment venture, built on the sand dunes along the Blackpool promenade containing a few roundabouts, a Bicycle Railway and Gypsy stalls. The expansion of the site did not start until the acquisition of adjacent land in 1903, which set the wheels in motion for what will become one of the best and most successful theme parks in the world. The success of the park has been marked by constant development and the addition of some of the most innovative and exciting theme park machines ever built. In 1904 Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machine was built, which has become the oldest amusement park ride still operating in Europe. Other additions included The River Caves of the World in 1905 and The Scenic Railway in 1907.

Bean and Outhwaite worked in partnership until Outhwaite’s death in 1911, when most of the business ownership passed onto Bean. The development of the park continued gaining momentum until the outbreak of World War One when investment was brought to a halt. The park survived the war and nearly a decade of stalemate, which came to an end with the construction of the Virginia Reel, the Noah's Ark and the development of the Casino Building.

Bean died in 1929 when the business was inherited by his daughter Lillian-Doris and her husband Leonard Thompson, who took over the running of the park.

Over the next decade, Thompson worked to expand the business further, starting with the construction of The Ghost Train, the Fun House and The Grand National and hiring renowned architects Joseph Emberton and later Jack Ratcliffe to bring the site up to date. He also acquired the remnant of the business owned by the Outhwaite family, gaining complete ownership of the business.

Investment once again slowed down during the Second World War, however, the park continued operating during the conflict as part of the national effort to raise public morale. The years following WWII saw increased investment with the addition of rides such as The Wild Mouse, Derby Racer, The Goldmine and Alice in Wonderland.

Leonard died in 1976 leaving the business to his son, Geoffrey who continued bringing the Pleasure Beach to the forefront of global amusement parks through heavy investment and innovation. He opened the new generation of rides including the Steeplechase, Avalanche, Revolution and Ice Blast. In 1994 he opened The Big One, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world at the time, followed by Valhalla in 2000, which is one of the largest and most expensive indoor dark rides in the world.

Geoffrey was also actively involved in promoting tourism in the North West of England and was part of the English Tourist Board and the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions and received, together with his mother, the Order of the British Empire status for their contribution to tourism. Geoffrey continued committed to his work until his death in 2004, when his oldest daughter Amanda took over the overall management of the business, while his son Nicholas became the Deputy Managing Director and his youngest daughter Fiona became a Senior Company Director. Continuing with the family business model Amanda Thompson’s leadership has been characterised by aggressive investment, vision, innovation and redevelopment.

In 2011, the Pleasure Beach opened Nickelodeon Land, a £10 million redevelopment project. In 2013, the park worked alongside Aardman Animations to create Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic and in 2015 they teamed up with the RAF to open the Red Arrows Skyforce. In 2018 the multimillion pound Icon roller coaster was created and in 2019 the Boulevard Hotel was built. Like her father and grandmother, Amanda was awarded an OBE for her contribution to tourism.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach holds the largest number of wooden roller coasters in the United Kingdom, it is the first theme park in Europe to have introduced a fully inverting steel coaster and is the last remaining park in the world to still operate a Steeplechase roller coaster. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also one of selected number of parks, which became the basis for the first Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California.

Found in 21 Collections and/or Records:

A Paddle at Blackpool Postcard, c1930 - 1949

 File
Reference code: 178C2.4
Scope and Contents

A postcard attached to a double page from a notebook with handwritten text in blue pencil.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Charles Taylor Collection

 Fonds
Reference code: NFA0069
Scope and Contents

The Charles Taylor collection is a fine example of Taylor’s of Wombwell printers’ posters, which highlight changes in printing techniques, fashion and taste within the popular entertainment industry. Included are examples of posters for pantomimes, fairs and circuses. The collection also contains handbills and other advertising material.

Dates: c1937 - 1989

Circus Friends Association Collection

 Fonds
Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus and Liverpool Stadium Programmes, c1900 - 2004

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178K43.281-335
Scope and Contents

Great Yarmouth Hippodrome and Liverpool Stadium circus programmes including Billy Russell, Peter Jay, Jasmine Smart and Sally Chipperfield among others.

Dates: c1900 - 2004

Letter from Mr John G Ward to Mr Albert Grass, 2 June 1934

 Item
Reference code: 178F24.2
Scope and Contents

Letter on Blackpool Pleasure Beach headed paper from Mr John G Ward to Mr Albert Grass regarding the completion of the 'Social Mixer'.

Dates: 2 June 1934

Newspaper Cuttings, c1920 - 1929

 Series — Box Violet Bartram Box 2: Series 178C139; Series 178G64
Reference code: 178G64
Scope and Contents

Cutting from a magazine showing rowns of telephones and people using them installed at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Winter Garden Arcade.

Dates: c1920 - 1929

Peter Jay's Superdrome Circus Programme, 1991

 Item
Reference code: 178K43.327
Scope and Contents

Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Colour photograph of circus ring and curtain with neon sign above reading Peter Jay's Superdrome Circus on the front cover, inside introduction, colour photographs of acts and performers with text, programme in the centre and commercial advertising, 8p.p.

Dates: 1991

Peter Jay's Superdrome Circus Programme, 1992

 Item
Reference code: 178K43.330
Scope and Contents

Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Colour photograph of circus ring and curtain with neon sign above reading Peter Jay's Superdrome Circus and performers waiving underneath on the front cover, inside introduction, colour photographs of acts and performers with text, programme in the centre and commercial advertising, 8p.p.

Dates: 1992

Photographs and Postcards, c1930 - 1949

 Series
Reference code: 178C2
Scope and Contents

Photographs and postcards related to Blackpool.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Postcards on a Notebook Page, c1930 - 1949

 Item
Reference code: 178C2.8
Scope and Contents

Four postcards attached to a double page from a notebook with hand written text in red pencil. On the left 'The bloodhoundon trail at blackpool'. On the right 'Iam receiving every attention possible and am quite happy at Blackpool' and 'every bed must be full in Blackpool ... I've seen a lot that seem to be sleeping on the cliffs!'.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Postcards on Notebook Page, c1930 - 1949

 Item
Reference code: 178C2.5
Scope and Contents

Two postcards attached to a double page from a notebook with hand written text in red pencil. On the left 'I'm coming back on … and bringing my stick of rock with me from Blackpool'. On the right 'I brought you some rock but I can't shift it, so I'm afraid I'll have to leave it at Blackpool'.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Postcards on Notebook Page, c1930 - 1949

 Item
Reference code: 178C2.6
Scope and Contents

Two postcards attached to a double page from a notebook with hand writte text in red pencil. On the left … ' I shall not forget to bring you a piece of rock'. On the right 'On the sands I lost my blouse and skirt, so returning in my old man's shirt from Blackpool'.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Postcards on Notebook Page, c1930 - 1949

 Item
Reference code: 178C2.7
Scope and Contents

Two postcards attached to a double page from a notebook with hand written text in black pencil. On the left 'I'm keeping my end up in Blackpool' and 'having a glorious time at Blackpool all I want is a girl'. On the right 'put the cat out, put the milk in the basin on the window sill, put the key in your pocket and come to Blackpool'.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Posters, c1937 - 1989

 Series
Reference code: 178R11
Scope and Contents

A collection of posters printed by Taylor's of Wombwell for music hall and variety, circus, pantomime and fairgrounds.

Dates: c1937 - 1989

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

 Series
Reference code: 178K43
Scope and Contents

A collection of mainly British and international circus programmes and some variety and music hall programmes containing circus acts.

Dates: c1800 - 2019

Superdrome Circus Programme, 1993

 Item
Reference code: 178K43.320
Scope and Contents

Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Folding programme with poster inside with colour photographs of acts and performers and programme in the centre.

Dates: 1993

Telegraph About Mr Albert Grass, 3 July 1934

 Item
Reference code: 178F24.1
Scope and Contents

Telegraph announcing Mr Albert Grass’ arrival to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Dates: 3 July 1934

The Edwin Hicks Illuminated Lecture Show Poster, 12 July c1982

 Item
Reference code: 178R11.169
Scope and Contents

Blackpool Pleasure Beach. ‘The Best Years of Your Lives’ 1890-1840, 50 Golden Years.

Dates: 12 July c1982

Variety and Music Hall Poster Printed by Taylor's of Wombwell, c1950 - 1989

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178R11.150-214, 178R11.250
Scope and Contents

Variety and Music Hall poster printed by Taylor's of Wombwell, including pantomimes and wrestling shows in theatre venues.

Dates: c1950 - 1989

We're Having a Rollicking time in Blackpool Postcard, c1930 - 1949

 Item
Reference code: 178C2.1
Scope and Contents

Colour lithograph showing five women with their feet in the sea from behind.

Dates: c1930 - 1949

Additional filters:

Type
Archival Object 18
Collection 3
 
Subject
Acrobats 5
Aerialists 5
Amusement parks 9
Amusement rides 2
Animal trainers 4