Described, time and again, as the heartbeat of Margate, Dreamland was one of the UK's best-loved amusement parks being listed in the UK's top ten visitor attractions. Comprising 16-acres, the park included a zoo, miniature railway, 2,200- seat purpose built Cinema, cafés, restaurants, bars, retail and a 2,000-capacity ballroom playing host to The Who, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Hawkwind to name but a few…
Considered to be the oldest-surviving amusement park in the Great Britain, Dreamland's origins date back to the great British railway boom of the early 1860s when, in its original form, the Hall by the Sea (originally a railway terminal building) was operated by the famous circus impresario, 'Lord' George Sanger.
For many generations Dreamland thrilled and delighted visitors to Margate and sustained her community. In 2006 the amusement park closed following an announcement to build housing on the site triggering a 6 year-long campaign to save Dreamland and this vital aspect of British seaside amusement park heritage.
The Dreamland Trust emerged from the campaign, and worked with partners to secure £12m public funding to restore Dreamland and its jewels: the Grade II*-listed Scenic Railway, Grade II*-listed cinema complex and Grade II-listed menagerie cages
Thanet District Council compulsorily-purchased the 16-acre site in September 2013 and work has now begun restoring the iconic Scenic Railway and a collection of important historic rides, as well as breathing new life into the lower ground floor of the cinema building, with sympathetic landscaping, exciting design and contemporary branding.
2015 sees the opening of Phase One of the amusement park and its environs, but there is much to do: indeed, it is timely to remind ourselves that Dreamland's founder John Henry Iles spent 15 years developing his vision for Dreamland and it will be Margate's community spirit and support that will help reinstate Dreamland as a major visitor attraction for Kent.