The Twentieth Century Society is pleased to have learned that the fire that partially destroyed Margate’s Scenic Railway on April 7th, was not as destructive as initially reported. Although the signage, cars, and part of the station are all but gone, the engine house, containing all the electric motors and winding gear, survived, as well as 80% of the track.
The fire, currently the subject of a police investigation, has prompted swift and decisive action from the local authority Thanet District Council, which has served a Repairs Notice not just on the Scenic Railway but on the whole Dreamland site – including the Listed 1935 Dreamland Cinema which closed last year. The Society warmly welcomes this action, which requires the owners to have to have the ride repaired and operational by Easter 2009.
Constructed in 1919-20 and restored after fires in both 1949 and 1957, the Scenic Railway was developed by John Henry Iles. It is a roller-coaster of tremendous historical importance, and only one coaster, at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen was known to be older – dating from 1914.
By serving the Repairs Notice, Thanet Council have underlined the importance of this superb structure to Margate and sent a firm message this important site must be at the heart of Margate’s regeneration. The Society applauds the council for this decision and we are looking forward to working with the conservation team in Thanet as they guide the reconstruction. The Councils action should also act as a deterrent to any one who might contemplate destroying a listed structure elsewhere.
Section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 allows a Local Authority to issue a ‘Repairs Notice’ on the owner of a listed structure requiring them to put the structure back in to good repair – in this case back to the condition it was in at the time of listing.
If the owner should choose not to carry out these repairs, the council can then set in motion a process of compulsory purchase.
Jon Wright (jon.wright(at)c20society.org.uk) telephone 020 7250 3857
Out of hours: 07855 406718