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In 1940 the entire Dreamland site was requisitioned by the Government as part of World War II

Scenic war Couple John Hutchinson Collection.jpg


The first half of Dreamland’s 1940s was, of course, dominated by the war effort on the home front and overseas. The cinema and ballroom initially remained open at the outbreak of World War II, though any prospects for anything like a normal summer season in 1940 were abandoned, when the entire Dreamland site was requisitioned by the Government. This June 1940 order was made on the back of the Dunkirk evacuation, where thousands of British and Allied soldiers were rescued from the beaches after being cut off by the German army.
The restaurants served as treatment centres for the wounded and the ballroom was converted to a makeshift dormitory for troops. Meanwhile, the Garden Café was used as an interrogation centre to root out possible spies and informers. 2000 troops were later stationed at Dreamland, including many from the Entertainment National Service Association (better known as ENSA), including actor Jack Warner of Dixon of Dock Green fame and Ralph Reader, creator of The Gang Show.

The presence of ENSA meant that some film and stage shows continued at Dreamland throughout the war years, though it was not until 1946 that the amusement park was up and running again. Rides, dancing and film all returned in earnest in the summer, as Britons sought to kick back and seek relief from the years of war.

More risqué sideshows started to appear on site, as did one larger than life entertainment giant, Billy Butlin. He invested £160,000 into the site in 1947, as well as bringing his hotels to Cliftonville.



As a registered charity, the Trust are always grateful for support and rely on your generosity and donations to ensure that we can continue to conserve and promote Dreamland’s rich heritage.


If you would like to support The Dreamland Heritage Trust you can make a one off donation via a cheque or bank transfer or you can set up a direct debit if you would like to make a regular contribution.Banks Details - Bank: CAF Bank, Sort Code: 40 52 40, Account: 00030605,  Charity Commission Number 1160517

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