The Things I've Seen: Margate Scenic Railway
Saturday 18 June 1994
'No screaming on this one,' said someone's dad gruffly as the queue moved forward.
Enclosed behind blue planking, the Scenic Railway is Britain's oldest surviving gravity ride, or roll er-coaster. It was built entirely of wood and opened in 1920.
In its first year it carried half a million passengers. There have been two fires since then, and every piece of timber has been replaced, much of it taken from the remains of Lowestoft Pier.
Margate has presented public amusements on this site since the halcyon seaside days of the 19th century. Train-loads of day trippers used to come from London. There was a ballroom with a notice at the entrance that strictly forbade 'close dancing, Turkey Trot, Bunny Hug or any other Negro freakish dances'. And it was here that the Margate Strong Man committed the murder in 1895 for which he was hanged.
The three-car train clattered to a halt. 'There's somebody in it, driving,' said my assistant. She meant the brakeman. In modern roller-coasters, the victims are sent off without such protection. The ride lasted four minutes. I preferred the Big Wheel.
The Margate Scenic Railway is at Ordnance Survey reference number TR351705.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...