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The 1980's saw the arrival of white knuckle rides to the newly named, Bembom Brothers theme park

1983 Large Bemboms Brothers Flyer.jpg


Dreamland gave Margate yet another iconic structure in 1980, in the shape of the new Big Wheel, which stood proud of the clock tower at 180-feet high. In the days before the London Eye, this was very much a structure that had people come to look at from miles around. It felt like the start of a new era for Dreamland, but it would prove to be the end of one, as the whole site was sold to Dutch amusement park operators Bembom in 1981.

Another move that proved unpopular with the public was re-naming Dreamland as Bembom Brothers Theme Park. However, this initial disappointment was more than made up for by the arrival of a slew of new rides, including the white knuckle looping coaster the Looping Star. There was also a Pirate Ship, the Ladybird children’s coaster and Cinema 2000, which was an early 3-D cinema. Bembom’s new approach meant that all the park’s bars were closed to create a more family-friendly environment. This new move attracted more Muslim visitors, with the brothers setting aside a grassed prayer area facing Mecca to accommodate them.

The major change for most was the introduction of an admission charge. Once you were in, all the rides were free, though the charge meant that many local youths, who may go for one or two rides, were priced out of a visit. This didn’t deter all of them, though, as many came up with schemes for sneaking in for free or sharing one paid-for hand stamp with a number of friends.
The park started and ended the decade as the star of television, with 1989 seeing it providing a backdrop for part of the Only Fools and Horses Christmas special The Jolly Boys Outing. In 1981 it had been the setting for BBC children’s’ drama A Break in the Sun, with the tense finale filmed on the Astroglide.

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