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BLACKPOOL PLEASURE BEACH

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach began with a single switchback railway ride built on the previously undeveloped sand hills of the South Shore in 1891. There had been amusements and fairground rides at different locations along the seafront since the 1880's. In 1894, the switchback at South Shore was accompanied by the 'American Carousel'. This roundabout was purchased from Philadelphia and operated by John William Outhwaite. In 1896, William George Bean introduced a 'Bicycle railroad' ride comprising a grooved monorail over which bicycles were hung. This had been imported from Smithville, New Jersey and was previously located at Great Yarmouth.

In about 1904, Bean and Outhwaite went into partnership and purchased the 40 acre South Shore site, which was named the 'Pleasure Beach' in 1906. In 1907, Europe's first Scenic Railway was built at the beach at a cost of £20,000, providing a ride over a mile which went twice around the track at speeds of up to 40mph. In 1909, the Velvet Coaster designed by William Homer Strickler was opened. The Sir Hiram Maxim 'Flying Machines' ride was also built at around this time. In 1923, the Big Dipper opened at the pleasure beach. This used an under-track roller system, allowing coasters to travel over a much steeper and faster course. In 1934, the 'Fun House' (later destroyed by fire) and the 'Grand National' racing coaster were added. In 1936, the track of the Big Dipper was made steeper and extended by 200 feet with an extra dip. Later funfair rides built at the Pleasure Beach include the Revolution (1979), the Space Invader (1984), the Avalanche Express (1988), the Pepsi Max Big One (Europe's tallest and fastest rollercoaster in 1994), the Ice Blast (1997), Valhalla (2000), Spin Doctor (2002) and Bling (2004). In 2006, there were over 125 rides and attractions.

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