Frontierland, Morecambe

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Frontierland Western Theme Park
Frontierland entrance sign 2005.jpg
Location Morecambe, Lancashire, England
Coordinates 54°04′07″N 2°52′34″W / 54.06872°N 2.87601°W / 54.06872; -2.87601Coordinates: 54°04′07″N 2°52′34″W / 54.06872°N 2.87601°W / 54.06872; -2.87601
Owner BPB.Ltd (1909-1999)
Morrisons Plc (2001-2009)
Previous names West End Amusement Park
Fun City
Morecambe Pleasure Park
Operating season No longer operational

Frontierland Western Theme Park was a theme park at Morecambe, Lancashire, England, situated on Marine Road West, which operated from 1909 to 7 November 1999, with a final year consisting of only travelling rides in 2000.[1] Frontierland originally operated as West End Amusement Park, Fun City and Morecambe Pleasure Park from 1909 to 1986 before being transformed into Frontierland for the 1987 season in an attempt to defeat dwindling visitor numbers.

In 2000, Frontierland was officially closed down by Geoffrey Thompson, managing director of Pleasure Beach Blackpool. All of the rides, excluding the Polo Tower and Log Flume were demolished or dismantled and sold on. The Rattler was moved to the Pleasure Beach whilst "The Wild Mouse" (later called "Runaway Mine Train" for the new-look Frontierland) and the Chair-O-Planes were moved to Pleasureland Southport, which later closed down in 2006. Unlike Pleasureland, Frontierland was never resurrected and the site remained wasteland until 2007, when three outlets were built. These large outlets were positioned at the back of the park, an area that previously featured the Stampede, Tea Cups and Parrots ride.

Opening in 2008, the three outlets consisted of a Homebase, JJB Sports and Next. Further plans are in the pipeline however, the retail park project isn’t a fast moving project. As a result of lack of interest, the retail park, previously proposed in 2001, didn’t make it off the drawing board until six years later. Early 2009, work began at the front of the site to remove the Log Flume which leaves the Polo Tower as the last remaining ride.

A brief history of the Frontierland site can be found at the Morecambe Today website.[2]

Brief history[edit]

The Thompson family, owners of Pleasure Beach Blackpool purchased the park in 1909, when it was called West End Amusement Park. The owners, who also owned Pleasureland Southport, which closed in 2006, introduced new rides each year until visitor numbers began to dwindle. A number of tactics were used to save the park, however most failed eventually. Rides such as a 150-foot (46 m) Big Wheel were introduced but were quickly taken down due to neighbouring complaints.

In 1986, visitor numbers were at an all time low so Geoffrey Thompson, owner of the park decided to give the ten acre site a complete overhaul. This involved turning the park into Frontierland which would hopefully see guests flock back to Morecambe. This worked for a few years but once again, numbers dropped, so in 1989, the Sky Ride was introduced – a cable car system that would allow people to fly over the park and out over the promenade before turning around and going back to the station. The ride was initially a big success and once again, visitors flocked to the park. In 1991, visitor numbers were back down to their low standard and investment wasn’t being put into the park so freely as two previous attempts had backfired massively.

In 1992, Geoffrey Thompson was about to make his biggest investment ever at Pleasure Beach Blackpool by introducing the 235-foot-tall (72 m) Pepsi Max Big One, a £12 million hyper coaster. One ride which had stood at Blackpool for over ten years was in the way of these plans. With the construction of the Big One due to start late 1992, the Space Tower was to be removed. So, in 1993 Frontierland received the Space Tower, a 150-foot (46 m) gyro tower. The ride was initially going to be placed at the back of the park but with the sponsorship from Polo Mints in the bag, the ride was positioned on the front. This resulted in a boost in visitor numbers but nowhere near what Blackpool was about to get from opening their new roller coaster.

The Polo Tower was the last major investment at Frontierland, however fans of the park believe that Geoffrey Thompson had no intention of shutting the park down, as in 1993, with the installation of the Polo Tower, Geoffrey Thompson signed a contract allowing a telephone mast to be placed at the top of the tower – this contract allowed the company to have their telephone mast on the tower for twenty years meaning that the Polo Tower cannot be taken down until the contract has expired resulting in a possible removal of the tower in 2013.

Decimation[edit]

Frontierland began to close in 1998, after eighty-nine years of service. The decimation of the park was due to take three seasons to complete, with the back of the park going first. As the park began to shrink at an alarming rate, rides from the park began to appear all over the world. However, the decimation of Frontierland was never fully completed as the Log Flume and Polo Tower remained on site. In 2009, the Log Flume was removed whilst the Polo Tower continues to remain in situ - albeit with its gondola removed, its only purpose now is to fulfil a contract for the positioning of a mobile phone mast at its peak.[3]

In 1998, when the park began to downsize, the first ride to leave was the Stampede roller coaster which had opened at the park in 1988. It was a standard roller coaster found at many parks, and its current location is unknown but many believe the ride to have been scrapped like so many other attractions. The ride was originally from Pleasure Beach Blackpool, where it operated as the Cyclone. The ride was removed in 1987 to make way for the Avalanche. Another ride at the top of the park to be removed was the giant Tea Cups which had been located at the park for many years. The Tea Cups were extraordinary in both their size and in the fact that its base was entirely made of concrete and was sunk into the floor so that guests could simply walk onto the ride instead of having to step up onto it. The ride was removed in 1998, with the floor being broken up and the cups being moved to Pleasureland Southport where they were never used. They were disposed of in 2006, when Pleasureland closed down, however some remain on the Southport Zoo site hidden in the undergrowth. In 1999, the park began to close the lower section of the park by removing rides such as the Ghost Train and Runaway Mine Train (originally the "Wild Mouse"), which was later moved to Pleasureland as King Solomon's Mines. Other ride removals included that of the Slide, Train and various other small attractions. The year 1999 was also the last year of operation for the Texas Tornado wooden roller coaster which had operated for 62 years. The ride remained dormant throughout the last few months of the 1999 season and the first half of the 2000 season until the ride was unceremoniously demolished late 2000. The year 1999 was the last year that Frontierland operated as a permanent theme park with rides that made it such being demolished, removed or made ‘standing but not operating’.

In 2000, most of the rides had been removed with the exception of the Texas Tornado, which was due to be demolished, the Polo Tower, the Rattler and the Log Flume. The Rattler was later removed from the park and put into storage. It wouldn’t be used again until 2004, when it was introduced as the Big Apple at Pleasure Beach Blackpool, but it only stayed there for one season. In 2007, it was introduced at New Pleasureland where it has remained to present day. Towards the end of the 2000 season, all the rides, shops and facilities such as toilet blocks were removed. One of the last rides to be removed was the Sky Ride, a cable car system which took riders from the back of the park, across the front and over to a turn-around on the promenade. The current location of this ride is unknown. By the very end of the 2000 season, only the Polo Tower and Log Flume remained on site along with a giant pile of rubble. The park’s entrance was sealed off using construction fences and the park remained in this state until 2007.

In 2007, the back section of the park became home to three outlet units which had been constructed by Morrisons supermarket. The outlets opened in 2008 and have remained open since. The construction of the outlets meant removal of the trees which once surrounded the Texas Tornado roller coaster. The company behind the development has announced plans to extended the outlet village to the front section of the park which, initially allowed theme park fans to believe that both the Polo Tower and Log Flume would re-open as part of the development, and speculation was fuelled even further when scaffolding appeared around the Polo Tower mid-2008 but the ride’s cabin was removed and the tower was ‘tidied up a bit’.

In 2009, the Log Flume ride, which had survived ten years after the park officially closed down, was removed from the site leaving the Polo Tower as the sole remaining remnant of the park. The future of the site is pointing towards a Freeport village much like the one at Fleetwood, but progress is slow and with an eyesore such as the Polo Tower fronting such a development, it looks unlikely to happen. It has since been revealed that the Polo Tower cannot be removed from the site until 2013 as the telephone mast on top is contracted to such date.[3]

Notable Rides[edit]

  • Cyclone roller coaster (later renamed the Texas Tornado) which was designed by Harry Traver and built in 1937 for the Paris World Exposition and moved to the park in 1939[1]
  • Runaway Mine Train – Wooden wild mouse was opened in 1961, Moved to Pleasureland Southport in 2000. Currently in storage for Dreamland Margate
  • Log Flume – was opened in 1982,demolished in 2009.
  • Haunted Silver Mine - Removed in 2000
  • Polo Tower – Still in situ but not in use. Cabin has been removed as of 2008.
  • Noah's Ark – Classic attraction. Demolished 2000.
  • Ghost Train – Classic ghost train attraction. Demolished in 1999.
  • Funhouse – Demolished 1999.
  • Sky Ride – was opened in 1989,Removed 2000.
  • Rattler – Moved to Pleasure Beach Blackpool and later New Pleasureland.
  • Stampede – was relocated from Blackpool Pleasure Beach as Cyclone opened in 1988, Removed in 1998.
  • Big Wheel - was opened in 1980 & it was removed in 1982 due to complaints.
  • Tumble Bug
  • Chair-O-Planes

Although the park has closed and most of the land is now waste ground, the Polo Tower still stands although the ride has not been operational since 2000 and has yet to be removed. The Polo tower (originally from Blackpool) also acts as a telephone mast, and was left in situ, partly because a mobile phone mast is installed on it. The tower has remained dormant, along with the Log Flume however, early 2009 work started on site to remove the water-based ride.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bingham, Roger K (1990). The Lost Resort?: Flow and Ebb of Morecambe. Cicerone Press. ISBN 1-85284-071-4. 
  2. ^ End Of The Ride For Morecambe Frontierland
  3. ^ a b "Frontierland's Demise". Retrieved 2009-07-30. [dead link]

External links[edit]