Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Kiddie Ride Hunting In Yorkshire And Lincolnshire

April 21st 2012

I was awoken "early" (9am!) so that I could go to Grottsville while Mum went to see the doctor again.  The doctor finally agreed to send her to Northwick Park Hospital...but he still didn't want to send her for a scan to see what was going on with her knee, he just sent her straight to a surgeon!  (Maybe he was punishing Mum for returning to him after he'd told her to go away before?!)

We had a new team of dustmen working on our street and the surrounding area.  They were very careless, spreading rubbish all over the roads and mixing the recycling up with the refuse (everyone needn't have bothered sorting their glass and paper out really, need they?!)

I brought some files full of MLP paperwork home from Grottsville with me but didn't have a chance to go through them.  No doubt I'd brought another load of carpet beetles with me too.

I still wasn't sure if we were going to Yorkshire or not.  My hair was in a terrible way, greasy and flat, falling out everywhere.  I didn't know whether to wash it or not - how would it look or feel worse if we were to go away?

I was stressed out about eBay.  Five people still hadn't paid me. (And that was without the auctions that were set to end while we were away!)  Mum had a great non-paying bidder who said it would "suit her better if Mum relisted the item"!  Well, at least she was honest!

April 22nd 2012

I didn't leave the house.  David did offer to take me to Grottsville when Mum asked him to take my eBay stuff over there "to get it out of her house"...but then he said he was stopping at the storage depot on the way back and I was feeling too self conscious about my hair to be seen in public.

Mum spent her day reading bad things about injured knees on the internet and scaring herself to death.  This, of course, put her in a bad mood with me again.  Apparently it was "all me, me, me" and I "had years ahead of me to do something about my life".  Well, actually I didn't have years ahead of me to fulfill my particular dreams, but also, why postpone happiness until tomorrow if you can achieve it today?

David came downstairs at 9pm to ask me to look at a road map (yes, Yorkshire was officially back on for the following day!) and shouted when he fell over the stepladder in the kitchen.  Mum jumped off the sofa in shock, causing herself to hurt her knee again, and blamed me for "not letting her lie down".  (She'd said she wasn't ready for bed yet)

I finally did my laundry as I knew this would be my last chance.  Unfortunately, my parents had also washed the sheets we always take on caravan breaks (again, last minute) so there was no airer to hang it on.  Hence, my bedroom became a laundry room with garments hanging from every available door handle and drawer knob!

April 23rd 2012

St George's Day but nobody ever mentions it.  It almost seems as though people are ashamed to be English - it's somehow racist to even talk about our own special days but come Diwali or St. Patrick's Day we pull out all the stops to celebrate!

I'd decided to wash my hair the previous night and, having not lost as much as usual, was feeling relatively okay about it for once.  Mum put paid to that though, making sure to tell me how awfully thin it looked.  Nice.

After a lot of arguments, we finally left for Yorkshire at 12.30pm.  Mum brought a huge bag of her dad's tapes and other belongings with her and moaned all the way there about how worried about the house she was.

It was a terrible journey.  We had torrential rain all the way there and couldn't see the road for the spray at certain points.  David didn't seem to know what he was doing - at one point, he missed a turning and didn't seem to notice that we'd been driving for far more than five miles.  He was just so engrossed in the radio that he couldn't think about real life.  And if he could make one mistake because he wasn't thinking about the road, he might make another that was far more serious.  Absolutely terrifying, but somehow we still made it to Filey in one piece at 6.30pm.

We drove along the seafront where I saw that the Whittaker Bros. Swingboat ride I remembered from my childhood was still there but the mysterious Veteran Car with a letter "R" written on the front had long gone.  Everything was shut by that time, of course, so we just went to Tesco to buy some bread, milk and other essentials on our way to the caravan.

And it was there that I photographed the first ride of the week...


Jolly Roger's Fetch The Vet.  Not exactly the most exciting or rarest ride in the world, but I hadn't seen one down in London for a good few years and still needed good digital pictures for the website.

The holiday home was clean and spacious but very chilly.  We had three bedrooms but Mum still insisted on sleeping on the floor in the living room!  It also didn't feel very secure and the whole caravan shook when David walked around it!  There was a rather rude and common family staying opposite - the two kids made a rude gesture at David as he walked past and the mother kept glaring at us for no apparent reason.  We always make such great friends with everyone!

I had a bad headache from going hours without food on the way there (I forgot to make a sandwich) and from sitting in the dark when we got there (as Mum couldn't take the spotlights).  I'd forgotten to bring the key to my diary and had to pick the lock with my umbrella in order to continue writing my blog notes!

April 24th 2012

Not being used to sleeping in such a narrow bed, I almost fell out of it.  I was actually awoken by the feeling of both my legs dangling out of the bed!

I got up at 8am but we still didn't get out of the caravan until noon.  We were further delayed when we discovered that the door couldn't be locked so my parents had to go and get another set of keys while I guarded the caravan.  Mum said that the entertainment complex and amusement area was huge but we didn't have entertainment passes to access that part of the camp, of course.  What a shame.  I've heard great things about the entertainment and amusements at Primrose Valley in Filey since then. Maybe if I'd known then about the kind of entertainment jobs available at those places, I would have worked harder to achieve my dreams instead of listening to Mum's "there's not enough jobs for everyone on the West End" rants!

Our first stop was Cleethorpes, the main reason for the trip.  (Yes, we stayed in Yorkshire because I wanted to go to a place in Lincolnshire...makes perfect sense to this family!)  I was pleased to see that the three Edwin Hall rides that I'd specifically come to see were still there and to be allowed to film and photograph them at my leisure.



I rode on all of these rides as a child in the 1990s but I understand that they had been at the Humber Pastimes Arcade for much longer than that.  The Magic Roundabout might date back as far as 1968 while the two Rock-a-Boats were made in the 1950s!  The Mickey Mouse one is a bit of a mystery though.  "Noddy's Rock-a-Boat" was a very popular Edwin Hall kiddie ride at the time but I've never heard of other characters being used on it.  So I am unsure if maybe Noddy got broken and was replaced by a restorer at the arcade or if Edwin Hall himself custom built a Mickey Mouse one.  Either way, these rides are extremely rare nowadays and it was a thrill to see them.

An added surprise was that Patches, one of my favourite 1950s Edwin Hall horses from my childhood, was still there too.  I'm not sure if this was a nice surprise or not.  The poor old boy had seen better days - he was not in working order and was hiding behind a large wheelie bin.  He was listed on eBay a few years ago but his buyer obviously never turned up to collect him.


I took a few snaps of the other rides in the arcade too as well as a film of the Whittaker Brothers Turbo Porsche Racing Car.



We took a stroll along the promenade but most of the place was shut.  I couldn't tell if it was just closed because it was out of season or if it had all closed down.  There was a lovely juvenile roundabout on the beach with old kiddie rides on it but even that was locked up.


Further along, we came to the Smiles For Miles arcade.  My goodness, I think that must have been the arcade I remembered in Cleethorpes from my childhood with rows of rides inside!  There was still a big clump of rides in there (although nothing very old remained) and I started taking photographs.  But I'd only taken two pictures...


...when a bloke who worked there walked over and told me that they had a strict "no photography" policy.  He couldn't tell us why, only that his boss would be very angry with him if he allowed me to continue.  And so, very sadly, I left without photos of the rest of the rides.  The bloke was quite polite about it really but it really shook my nerves and put me off of even wanting to try to take any further photos elsewhere.

So that's when I had to find two surprises, isn't it?

We walked up to another arcade set back a little way from the prom.  All seemed relatively normal from the outside with a couple of modern Whittaker rides by the doors.


As I nervously photographed the rides, scared of being told off again, a man (who I believe may be the chap in the background of the Jazz Van photo!) walked by very pointedly singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" in my direction.  Was that some kind of comment about me photographing children's rides?

Anyway, David had disappeared so I wandered inside the arcade where I found...a beautiful 1960s Whittaker Brothers' Trigger horse and a 1970s R L Smith Flipper dolphin ride.  These rides certainly weren't there when I was a child so I don't know where they'd acquired them from.  I desperately wanted to film them for the website but I was just too nervous to do so.

I went to look for David, hoping that he would keep an eye out for staff while I at least sneakily grabbed some photos as a souvenir.  I found him buying a bacon bap...from the man who had been serenading me outside the arcade, who was apparently on his way to work at the time!  David very hastily ran into the arcade while the bloke made his bap, ran up to a member of staff and ASKED THEM IF IT WOULD BE OKAY FOR ME TO PHOTOGRAPH THE RIDES!  No, that was not what I wanted you to do, David.  I wanted help in getting some subtle photos while they were occupied elsewhere!

Just as I feared, they were not happy about me taking photos in their arcade and began questioning my motives.  David said that it was for "childhood memories" (brilliant if the rides had only just been delivered there recently!) and, before I knew it, I was surrounded by members of very suspicious-looking staff.  Hence, I was only able to grab these very fuzzy photos before David ran back to get his precious bacon bap.  I was not at all pleased.


There was a crane machine outside the pier with G3.5 MLP plushies inside it.  The machine wasn't working.  Just as well really as I never win on those things anyway!


We travelled along the coast to Mablethorpe after that but, once again, most of the place was closed up like a ghost town.  I guess there's just not enough profit in opening arcades an gift shops outside of the peak season any more.

From what I could see, there weren't any old rides left there anyway.  I actually only photographed two rides in the whole place.  A lot of that may have been my phobia of being told off though.  I could have sworn the man in the change booth at Jackson's Pastimes for glaring at me just for getting my camera out on the pavement outside the arcade.  Yes, I think I was just a bit paranoid!  It was a shame really as there were lots of rides at Jackson's that I'd never seen before and I would have liked to have had photos, but I only dared to take pictures of the horse-drawn wagon in the end.


I saw some more of the G3.5 MLP plushies for sale in a gift shop at Mablethorpe...but the shop was also closed.

We went to McDonalds for fries in the evening and then to Morrisons to top up on grocery supplies.  There was a big kerfuffle at the checkout when they wouldn't accept David's card.  Then, as I stood with an embarrassed smile on my face, my orthodontic elastic pinged out of my mouth and landed on the cashier's shoulder!  Luckily, I don't think she noticed!  Boy, would I be pleased to get rid of the braces!

Mum didn't get out of the car all day long due to both knees, her ribs and back hurting too much for her to walk.  She still refused to sleep in a bed at the caravan in case she fell out but complained that sleeping on the hard floor was making her aches and pains worse.  She pulled all of the cushions off of the sofa and put those on the floor to sleep on but David complained that they weren't flat against the sofa.  She said she couldn't put them flat against the sofa because "my feet were on the floor". (I actually had my feet tucked up underneath me on the sofa)  She spent the evening ranting about Woodberry again and how she wanted to move back to Grottsville.  Oh, and how we shouldn't have driven so far south to Cleethorpes having not got it done on the way there.  But Cleethorpes was the whole reason for the trip!  And if she wasn't getting out of the car anyway, why did it matter to her where we went?

I walked past the entertainment complex at the camp that evening and tried to get a sneaky glance at what was inside.  I could only see one Cogan Magic Castle ride but the arcade was huge so who knows what might have been at the back of it?

I'd taken my "Pennies By The Sea" book about the history of Bridlington's amusement arcades with me.  I was horrified to open it and discover that page 3 was missing and the rest of the pages were falling out.  I know that I loved that book and it had been well read but I don't think it had been used enough to warrant the pages falling out!

April 25th 2012

We got out a little earlier that morning - 10am!  We headed straight down to the seafront at Filey but the blasted funfair was STILL closed.  Perhaps it never opened, at least not during the week?  We said we'd try again on our way back that evening.

I did run up to the one and only arcade in Filey and photographed a Pony Express ride but there really wasn't much else there.

Our next stop was Robin Hood Bay, a quiet place with a very steep hill.  We didn't even get out of the car because David didn't want to go all the way down the hill.  Instead, he dangerously turned around halfway down the hill with cars behind understandably honking at us angrily!

We went on to Whitby after that.  David didn't want to get out of the car there either so we just drove along the front with him asking, "Is there anything there?"  Well, how was I supposed to know if there were any rides in the arcades without getting out and looking around?

Fortunately, I spotted this little elephant outside an arcade which gave us a reason to stop.



No, it wasn't a particularly exciting ride but it was still an excuse to stop.  A modern version of the mysterious 1970s "N Company" elephant, obviously made by Funtime Kiddie Rides or whatever name JM Kiddie Rides go by these days.

We had to park right at the top of a cliff and walk down to the seafront.  Poor Mum was left in the car again and David didn't even think to park facing the sea so she just had to sit and look at a row of hotels and guesthouses.  But there's no way she could have made it along the path we took with her bad knee.


Very pretty but somewhat impractical for visitors with walking problems!

I felt bad about leaving Mum in the car and couldn't stay for too long but we still had a quick look around all the arcades.  I vaguely remembered one particular arcade in Whitby still having quite a few old rides in the 1990s and, while I didn't really expect them to still be there, I wanted to try and work out which arcade it was.

Pleasureland was the last arcade in the street.  It looked as if it had been modernised like the rest with an Italian Lady and the Tramp ride just inside the door.  But I still walked to the back of the arcade, just in case.  And there I found my old pal, Silver.



He'd been repainted since my day but it was definitely the same horse.


Apparently he's been at the arcade for over 50 years.  He even starred in a "Simply Red" music video back in the 1980s.  (See 01:35)


Another of my favourites, the Whittaker Brothers' Space Bunny ride, was still there too!



Always nice to have a blast from the past.


There was a lovely shopping street full of charity shops but I didn't like to leave Mum in the car any longer so we headed straight back to the car.

Our next stop was Saltburn where I was approached by a strange man, laughing and talking in a thick accent (I think he was talking about the bad weather).  There was not much there any more besides a couple of modern rides on the pier.  There was a lovely, very generous 2p pusher machine there...but David encouraged me to keep using it until I was 2p out of pocket!

We couldn't see the Beach Cafe and Gift Shop where two lovely old rides were located when I was a child.  I doubt that it was still there though.

Ever onwards to Redcar, another place where the amusements have either closed down or been modernised beyond recognition.

Still feeling nervous about being told off for taking photographs, I came away with just four pictures.  The first is a quite an unusual Falgas ride I'd almost forgotten existed but it brought back memories of one opposite Brighton Pier in the very early 90s.  This one was standing in the corner of an arcade and I have no idea if it was working or not.  I almost hope it wasn't.  It doesn't look too safe with the left hand "carousel pole" missing, the right one badly bent, and the front horse doing a nosedive!


The other three photos show very recent rides.  I believe the first comes from a company in Poland and the other two are made by Falgas?  As I say, they're very modern.  It makes me wonder if the rides I remembered from my childhood were still there until quite recently.


There was a ghastly structure being built on the seafront which a local told us was to be the new "vertical pier".  I just looked it up now and see that the finished building doesn't look much better!

It was still horribly windy and rainy - my umbrella blew inside out so - *gasp* - I had to expose my hair to the rain!  David went off to use the bathroom and I stayed in one of the arcades playing the pusher machines.  An old lady came up and asked me how to use them as "she'd always wanted to have a go but didn't know how it worked".  I stood and taught her when to put the coin in for the best chance of winning and she got quite excited, shrieking with laughter when she (finally) got a 2p back out of the machine!  Well, I was pleased to help.  I just feel sad that she'd missed out on so many years of such a silly pleasure.

It was still only about 3pm and felt too early to head back to the caravan...so David came up with the ridiculous idea of going to Whitley Bay of all places!  I told him there was nothing there nowadays but would he listen?  A 50-mile drive through heavy rain and a £1.40 (luckily not £14.00 as we originally thought!) toll on the Tyne Tunnel later, we arrived in quite possibly the saddest place I'd ever seen.

You could almost feel the hustle and bustle of times gone by when it was still a popular, thriving seaside town.  Hear the children's laughter on the beach and the rock and roll music in the arcades.  The sound of rollercoaster cars skidding along the track at Spanish City and of cheerful candy floss venders trying to lure people in to buy another stick...

I never went to Whitley Bay as a child but I understand it was already well past its heyday even then.  Now the place is little more than a ghost town with the once proud, white Spanish City standing dirty and dilapidated in the centre of it all.  The pubs and guesthouses are boarded up as if their inhabitants all died of the Black Death and were carted off to the graveyard this morning.


One arcade struggles to survive in the middle of this sad place, with two modern kiddie rides inside.  Really, really sad for somebody who spends so long reading books and websites about seaside history.

David and I went in the arcade and were harassed by a horrible little child who kept asking us how we were doing and whether it was our first time there.  It clearly wanted change to play on the machines and I had to wonder where its parents were...

The toy museum seemed to be one of the few bits of Whitley Bay which is still around, however it was closed when we were there.  Sad, as I know there are a couple of old rides in there.

We didn't get to the Filey fairground as it was dark by the time we got back.  Mum hadn't got out of the car all day again and her feet were now swollen from sitting down for too long.  My bladder almost burst on the way back as well!  The long drive to Whitley Bay had been the last straw.  Oh well, it was nice to see the place anyway.

Two more days to go.  What other exciting things might we see before we returned to London?

Best wishes,
Desirée   xxx

1 comment:

  1. The one in the Jazz Van looks a bit like Clifford the Big Red Dog

    ReplyDelete