The Dreamland amusement park opened in the 1860s, making it the oldest amusement park in the UK.
Wayne Hemingway, Hemingway Design co-founder, says, ‘Margate’s got major potential for regeneration – you can’t fail to be excited by a town that’s attracting creative folk for a number of reasons: it’s got a sandy beach, it’s within reach of the capital and it’s got unbelievably cheap real estate.’
He adds, ‘Dreamland is one of the jewels in the crown. It’s Britain’s oldest amusement park and it has the1930s cinema. You’ve got that fantastic heritage – it looks cool and it was well designed in its time, and it’s got all this fantastic imagery around it. It lends itself to be a place that can be reinterpreted for the modern day.’
Hemingway Design won a pitch put out by Thanet District Council to create the overall scheme and branding for the site in a £10m project, which is funded by grants from the Department for Culture Media and Sport’s Sea Change Scheme, The Heritage Lottery Fund and Thanet District Council.
The park will be run by the Dreamland Trust, which formed six years ago to campaign for the site’s regeneration. The group has been given the site by Thanet District Council for a peppercorn rent.
According to the Dreamland Trust, the new Dreamland will be ‘a living, breathing, multi-sensory environment telling Dreamland’s rich historic story using art, design, music and architecture to describe Britain’s amusement park heritage.’
The site is due to open in two stages. A pre-opening programme in 2013 will see the opening of a visitor centre, exhibition, visiting attractions, events, activities and learning programme prior to the formal opening of Phase One in 2014.
Phase One will see the restoration of the1920 Grade II* listed Scenic Railway – the oldest in the UK,alongside the historic rides collection and ‘Lord’ George Sanger’s 1860s Grade II listed menagerie cages. This stage of works will also include repairs to the cinema building, the reopening of the main park entrance, the introduction of a learning centre, exhibition area and community space, plus an events arena and refurbished car park.
Hemingway says that they are looking for people to suggest ideas about the project to themselves and the Dreamland Trust, whom they can contact through the websites www.hemingwaydesign.co.uk and www.dreamlandmargate.com.
He says, ‘We haven’t set a date yet but we’re looking for people who are interested to get in touch and we’ll call a big meeting. The main thing is to get together with the creative community in Margate and Kent and other people who’ve got an empathy with Dreamland and see what we can achieve by people getting together.’
The Dreamland project is viewed as part of the wider regeneration scheme of Margate, alongside the Turner Contemporary art gallery, which opened last year with an identity by John Morgan . Margate itself also launched a new identity last year, which was chosen in a public vote.