A Look at the History Margate's
Scenic Railway Represents

 

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With the long term future of both Dreamland and the Scenic Railway still doubtful the park and the campaign is in need of support. One thing I've noticed is not everyone is aware of the history around it, so I've decided to do a write up to introduce people to the history of seaside resorts, which led to the introduction of amusement parks and rides like the Scenic Railway.

It all really started back in 1750. Then there were very few towns in the whole country that resembled a bathing resort. Then Dr Richard Russell, a respected physician at the time wrote his book called "Glandular diseases: or a desertion of the use of seawater on the affection of the glands." In this book he suggested glandular problems could be taken care of with a course of treatment including freezing cold early morning dips in the sea, eating pills of ground woodlice and drinking neat seawater. Not a partially pleasant treatment, but was effective due to the iodine in the seawater.

This kick-started the trend for bathing resorts. It was helped further when Dr Russell encouraged businessmen to invest in Brighton, the nearest bathing resort to his home town of Lewis. This meant theatres, inns and other forms of entertainment started to appear. Other resort towns started to follow Brighton's lead, and an idea of a holiday to the seaside, not just visiting for medical reasons was born.

This soon became a very fashionable thing to do, and even received royal patronage that really helped it to develop. All successful bathing resorts from the 1780's onwards had some form of royal patronage from a duke or higher. even King George III regularly visited Weymouth and his son the future Prince Regent and George IV built his own palace in Brighton after a scandal.
-For those interested it goes: Prince meets Maria Fitzherbert. Prince falls in love. Maria shuns Princes advances. Prince stabs himself in the chest, saying he'd rather die than live without her. Maria flees the country (the sensible thing to do considering). Prince is forbidden to leave country by King, but continues to send gifts and love letters. Maria gives in and returns to marry Prince. King is furious, and declares marriage illegal (he could do that as royalty under the age of 25 couldn't marry without the kings permission). Prince and Princess set up home in Brighton, because it's the only place they could publicly be seen together due to the questionable legitimacy of the marriage.

By the 1800's there were quite a few established sea bathing resorts, but after this there was a huge explosion in the number and size of them. This was caused by the same thing causing growth to most towns and cities around the country. The development of the steam engine and the industrial revolution.

This was one of the biggest social upheavals in the history of the world ever. It was the foundation of the modern world as we know it today. In this time towns and cities became industrialised. The workers started to be centred around factories producing goods, instead of working on farms. Although the condition of some working areas, especially the length of working days was poor, cases of extreme mistreatment were the exception not the rule. The workers also has some new advantages that were unavailable before.

Two important ones where that workers now had more spare money to spend on the pursuit of leisure, and extra days of, including weekends and additional bank holidays.

This trend coincided with the set up of Britain's early railway system. Thanks to campaigners and businessmen like Thomas Cook, who set up cheap travel and holiday packages, cheap and easy access to seaside resorts became available. (Ironically Thomas cook originally hoped that package holidays would help reduce the amount of alcohol consumption).

Holidays and daytrips to the seaside soon became one of the most popular ways for people to spend their free time and money. This led to large amounts of investment in seaside resorts as the demand for accommodation and entertainment grew. One of these forms of entertainment was of course some of the worlds first amusement parks, including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and of course Margate and it's Scenic Railway.

This is a very important piece of history, and one which Margate's Scenic Railway is a symbol of. I'd like to finish by asking you to pay a visit to www.savedreamland.co.uk to find out more about the campaign, and how you can show your support. I'd also like to recommend trying to pay a visit to Dreamland (see save Dreamland for announced opening times) to not only show your support, but also if the worst should happen in the future the next few years could be one of your last opportunities to try this historically important ride. Lets really hope though that the worst doesn't happen, and that we can continue to try this great ride for years to come.