Wicksteed Park is the second oldest amusement park in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1921 by Charles Wicksteed, the son of a Unitarian minister of the same name, who ran several successful businesses prior to setting up what was originally intended as an open space and safe parkland for local families. The park occupies an area of around one square kilometre. Much of the space is taken up by playing fields and a substantial lake, and the rest is divided between a playground, a caravan park, and three distinct amusement areas; the Fairground, the Lakeside, and the Arena. Both roller coasters were to be found in the latter; a small Tivoli named Ladybird Coaster (#701) and a Pinfari RC40 with the imaginative name of Roller Coaster (#702). Neither made much of an impression on me.
The most interesting ride in the park was unfortunately closed for maintenance today. The Water Chute dates from 1926, and features a unique boarding station at the ride apex. Rather than use a lift hill, the wooden boat is towed back uphill by rope following a splashdown. It would have been nice to ride, but no doubt I'll get back at some stage.
13th May 2006
English tourists have a curious obsession with caravan parks, with several hundred scattered around the country. Billing Aquadrome is a fairly typical example of the species, featuring a fairground, caravan parking, shopping outlets, swimming, and restaurants. The appearance of the place was depressing at best, lacking even the vaguest approximation to charm. In the interests of self-preservation we decided that our best course of action was to tick off the credit and leave as quickly as possible. The ten minutes it took us to find an operator to run the Big Apple (#703) felt like a stay in purgatory, albeit one concluding with absolution as we ticked off our credit.
13th May 2006
It took us almost three hours to drive to our final stop of the day, the charming seaside resort of Clacton-on-Sea, home to a small seaside amusement pier. While the place had no adult roller coaster, the ride selection was reasonable, being somewhat reminiscent of Barry's Amusements.
Our first port of call was as always the credit, a themed Big Apple equivalent named Speedy Gonzales (#704). With that out of the way, we had a look at the powered Go Gator but the signage made it quite clear that this was a ride for children only, and it seems unlikely that I'd have been able to fit into the seat even without a posted restriction. We elected to pass on the various spin rides, but very much enjoyed the superb Haunted Mansion dark ride which, though low budget, was clearly built to make the most of available funds.