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Wooden Coaster Figure 8.....The Grand Pier Weston Super Mare

luke8

Member
I read this yesterday and when visiting my Grandfather today, he says he does indeed remember riding a figure of eight wooden coaster, inside the pavillion on the Pier.

He visited WSM during summer pretty much every year in the 50's and 60's, and has added weight to this.

I know you've said you've gave up, but I honestly think we can still get some concrete evidence for this.

He remembers riding it 3 years in a row, and remember of it's extortinate cost, and the small 4 seater cars, just like you/other people have mentioned!

He hasn't visited WSM since 1966, but says the ride was definitely gone and replaced with some standard slot machines that year.

His mother and father had photographs, he is positive of it but unfortunately there long gone and he has no clue where they are.

I then showed him all of this thread and after a good of reading this, he agrees with all the contacts you've had about the dates, the car lengths and the fact it did operate to no later than 1968, at the very latest.

He clearly remembers going through old photos with his mother (My Great-grandmother) just before she passed away, and remembers seeing many of him riding the coaster.


Hes got alot of photos in the attic, though he thinks they date to around 1980 and onwards. he reckons older family photos were left in his mothers houses attic, and he never retrieved them.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
What did I say about new evidence coming to light?

That`s good news luke8 but I doubt miss Pink will be happy.
Dont worry about that though.
Her pretending to be cool and liking only new coasters does tend to get a bit tedious after a while.
Without the old extinct coasters there wouldn`t be any new ones today just as without the Wright brothers plane there wouldn`t now be the space shuttle.
So I would have thought any real coaster enthusiast would be interested in learning about the "oldies" especially one with bit of a mystery attached to it.

But anyway if you get your hands on those photos post them up for us all to see and you will go down in coaster history as bit of a legend.
( exaggerating slightly but you get the picture)

This is indeed good news.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Luke8 could you ask your grandfather what makes him think the ride was gone by his 1966 holiday? Was it England winning the world cup that year or what?
The reason I ask is because there is a photo (Northside August 1963) on the Weston Mercury Grand pier history section that I have mentioned before that doesnt show the Figure of Eight. I showed the photo to a camera enthusiast friend yesterday too and they said the ride could not have been there when that photo was taken.

Could you also ask him if he has any ideas why the Pier`s showpiece ride would be removed and replaced by slot machines?
Afterall the ride was less than 20 years old (maybe 15) and that isn`t old for a "woodie" and also as the ride was inside and not exposed to the elements it should have been with regular painting still almost in pristine condition.
Thanks
David
 

furie

SBOPD
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
David, I think you're misread Luke's post.

Luke said:
He hasn't visited WSM since 1966, but says the ride was definitely gone and replaced with some standard slot machines that year.
Says he hasn't been since 1966, and it was definitely gone then. So he's just confirming that the ride was replaced with slot machines definitely on his last visit in 1966 (and possibly before then).

I'll have to do some more reading, but the UK lost a lot of rides during the 60's. There was a massive downturn in UK holiday makers to the seaside resorts, and the rides often didn't bring in much cash compared to the maintenance required. Looking, the trend tended to be later in the 60's, and then the early 70's. Though the 70's 'cull' was really just the parks getting rid of rides which had generally been decaying since the mid 60's anyway.

It's possible Weston had this coaster, and it just wasn't bringing in the money. If you talk to anyone who owns an arcade, they'll tell you the real money is in slot machines - they make an absolute killing on them. Perhaps the owner was clocked onto this, and knew that it was the best way to make money. It's rare business men are sympathetic towards things like rides sadly.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Maybe,so Luke8 will need to clarify,but I thought he said earlier in his post that his grandfather went virtually every year to Weston during the 50`s and 60`s?
So why say the ride was gone in 1966? Surely he would have known if it was earlier. That`s why I asked if he remembered it because of something else like the world cup for example. (I often remember what year something was by that method)

Sorry to be so pedantic on this and normally it wouldn`t matter exactly what year it was,but in this case it does. I need to know if that photo is incorrectly dated or if Luke8`s grandfather is right. (if he does mean 1966)

And also why would the pier only replace it`s best ride with slot machines especially as most of the ride was in space up in the air where slot machines couldn`t be?

Can you post that link here too that the Mercury wont turn on because it could be seen as advertising?
Thanks
 

furie

SBOPD
Staff member
Administrator
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http://www.1st-take.com/product.asp?P_ID=157

The reason the coaster went may simply have been maintenance required was too high a cost compared to the money it made. I know the Figure 8 (Leap the Dips) in the States requires a lot of work, a lot of the time. They have engineers working on it most of the time. It's fully restored, so pretty much new. It's just that these ride types require a lot of work to keep them going - remember, coaster construction back then was more of an art form :)

Full time engineer to work on, plus parts, if nobody was riding, then the slots look very tempting (even if you only got a couple in the space left - at least you didn't have to deal with an old structure).

Of course, the one thing that goes against this is the fact the ride is indoors, so protected - so it would have lasted much better than other woodies. It's still likely to be economical though.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
You could be right and obviously know more than me regarding general coaster history. Hopefully we will all eventually find out.

As regards maintenance, the ride was painted every closed season with green paint and the walls around the bottom were painted every year black.

In 1957 the ride had an overhaul as I have mentioned before which would have been ten years after opening. Only the metal tracks and wheels for the cars however were replaced not any of the wood as it was only friction that was causing wear and tear not the salt wind and rain causing the wood to rot.
So I dont think maintenance would have been that high.And also I have been told that during the peak summer weeks the queues for the ride strectched back right outside the pavilion.

As for the economic argument well I wont debate that with you as you are right, business men are only interested in a profit.
If it was me though I still wouldn`t remove my best ride I would have removed one of the oldest and worst which would have been the Speedway.
Unless of course there was another reason outside my control.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
No joy with the dvd unfortunately.

Some interesting footage of Weston,but the only short piece of film inside the pavilion on the pier was fairly recent.
All the 50`s and 60`s stuff was outside mainly of the beach and swimming pool.

Very disappointing.
 

furie

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Sorry about that - it was worth a try though. Makes you wonder if they had some kind of embargo on shots inside :lol:

It's probably just that cameras in that time weren't up to the job in a "consumer" sense to take decent indoor photos. So the only shots will have been commissioned ones by professionals?
 

luke8

Member
Spent all day today in my Grandfather's attic searching through literally about 900 photos.

There all dated, but all bloody mixed up! :mad:

Unfortunately - it's what I expected. The earliest batch of photos up there were from 1995.

I know I've seen a photo of an indoor Wooden coaster on Weston Super Mare. When my Grandfather moved house, he said he accidentaly left earlier photos from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's in the attic.

So yeah. Me and Him both KNOW we've seen a photo of my grandad riding this exact coaster in the early 60's.

Just, can't find it. :(
 
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Anonymous

Guest
No worries Luke8 that`s the way it goes and I now expect that sort of thing to happen.
I too have seen a photo of the FOE under construction on the net which I foolishly didn`t save at the time (last summer- mentioned on Mercury forum) which then vanished when I tried to find it the next morning and have never found it again since.

A few minutes ago just before I read your post I received a strange e-mail from the historian who did the dvd that I watched this morning who tells me they are currently writing a book on the history of the Grand Pier.
She tells me the FOE was a German ride and dismantled and sold in the 1970`s and re-erected on Brighton seafront.......What the f**k?

Needless to say I am awaiting clarification!
 

furie

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Hmmm... That kind of brings us back to my first post I think. A lot of those rides were indeed traveling coasters... They were also popular in Germany and The Netherlands (if I remember correctly). The one that was recently destroyed at Folkestone was from Holland I believe.

So there may be some truth, but I can't find anything on a wooden ride at Brighton. The mystery just deepens...
 
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Anonymous

Guest
She now tells me the FOE can be seen in the background of the Northside 1963 Mercury photo and doubts the date of the photo.
Sorry..... no way is that the FOE.

Sticking with Brighton too but says 1970`s might be wrong.

Awaiting further clarification
 
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Anonymous

Guest
furie said:
The structures are quite dense really:
Meaning what furie?

And she got back to me to say it`s Derrick Brenner and not Dennis but not answered any of my points so the email debate could well be over.

Fair enough about me being told the name wrong but that`s not what I want to know.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
It seems we might have been at crossed purposes over which photo we were arguing about.
.The lady has two photos from 1963 of the Figure of Eight which will be going in the book.
Accurately dated too apparently as filming was going on at the same time in the pavilion for a show of some kind.

Therefore that means the Mercury photo could be out by a year or two (or even more) and Luke8`s grandfather could well be correct with his 1966 date.

If there is a book coming out soon then I might give up although I`m waiting to hear what she has to say about the points I put to her.It may well be she has to return to her sources for clarification.
We shall see.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Update

The book will be out in June but the two photos only show a tiny portion of track apparently. Sharon Poole (I can say her name now- she doesnt mind) was unable to find any of the complete ride but if any do now show up it is too late for the book.
She says to me to keep trying to find out about the FOE as there will only be a small mention of it along with many other rides.

I wish someone would do a book entirely about the story of the ride but it`s better than nothing.

Oh well, keep digging I suppose.
 

furie

SBOPD
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Sorry, what I meant was that you'd easily be able to tell if the structure in a photo was actually the coaster. It's not like "look, there's a wooden beam, it must be the coaster". If it's a figure 8, then you will know about it :)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Yeah fine no worries furie,I wasn`t quite sure which way you meant.

I`ve been thinking about the possible German origins for the ride again and I suppose it is feasible. I haven`t mentioned the German Brighton thing yet on the Mercury forums as I`m waiting for the lady to re-check her info.

We know the ride was in place by 1947 (Sharon has no idea when the FOE was installed) because of the line in the Grand Pier song recorded that year and it is possible Arnold and Derrick Brenner used a ready made German built ride for an added attraction shortly after their father purchased the pier in 1946.

The German people were near starving at that time though so would valuable resources have been used for a fun fair ride? I suppose however it would have generated instant cash or maybe the ride was in storage for the duration of the war.Or even perhaps it was commandeered like alot of other stuff was by the Allies.

Interesting stuff eh, but as for Brighton....who knows.(I suppose it would be easy enough to adapt an indoor ride for outdoor use or maybe it was designed as an outdoor ride to begin with). Sharon now concedes her sources dismantling date of the 70`s maybe wrong and also says everyone seems to have a different memory for the ride.

Which one will be correct only time will tell, but maybe all of the memories will be a little bit right and a bit wrong too.
 
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