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Hands On 2

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14th February 1998

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David Dowson
Well, the 1998 season started in a rather unexpected way. The things that you do not normally associate with Southport in February: sun, sea, sand and Cyclone were all present for the Hands On day at Southport on Valentines day 1998.

The day started off for the lucky 12 with a walk of the Cyclone track which, due to the unseasonably warm and dry weather was dry and a complete circuit of the track was possible from the station back around the ride. A most informative talk was given by Jake on the way around. The experience was amazing and it is still hard to believe just how steep the drops are.

Following a welcome coffee and toast, it was into the Fun House to limber up for the new coaster season. The Joy Wheel and ball pond were as much fun as ever. A behind the scenes tour followed and answered the question “what has happened to the track from the Big One removed last year?” Well, Southport have used it to build a new bridge to the Log Flume. Having attended the Hands On day last year, the thing that impressed me most was the difference in the appearance of Pleasureland, the park is much neater and tidier with new paving and fencing, a vast improvement which can only be of benefit to the park.

Then it was onto the serious work of the day, riding the Cyclone for the new season. After a few rides to get into the swing of the new season, the coaster picked up speed quickly and by the end of the ERS it was flying. The opportunity of being able to get a seat on every other train at worst during an ERS is fantastic.

Following lunch, Points for Rides sheets and wristbands were issued and two hours was available to ride as many of the park’s attractions as possible. Then it was down to the Go Kart track to inspect the remaining Big One track and to take part in the Go Kart racing. A brief shower during the afternoon together with slick tyres make the track slippery to say the least, with predictable results! Star of the racing must have been James “sideways” Lawrence who seemed to be trying every possible variation on lines through corners. Great fun, lots of spins and minor shunts but it was over too quickly.

It was then back for coffee, cakes and a quiz and the results of the Points for Rides. I was shocked that our team was disqualified from the event for cheating, along with three other teams, does nobody realise the effort that went into doing over four hundred rides in two hours!!! It was a great end to a great day’s riding and a great start to the 1998 season.

Many thanks to Lynne, Jake and Ray at Pleasureland and to Justin, Andy Preston and Chris McFarlane for the trip organisation. I can’t wait for Hands On 1999, sun, sea, sand, Cyclone and SLC.


Ian Berry
This was the first Club trip I have been to since passing my driving test on 12th December ‘97. I did the trip to Southport last season and was lucky enough to walk the Cyclone. I could have done the walk this year, but thought it fair to let other members come within inches of death!

The trip was still as good, if not better than last season. The Cyclone was running superbly, as were many of the other rides including the Wild Cat and the Apple Coaster(!). I cannot believe how well the management are re-vamping the park. My first visit, eight years ago, was a let down because of the state the park had got into, but the transformation is breathtaking. All the rides are well themed and looked after and not just dumped on concrete. The Log Flume is fun, but could do with more “getting wet” features and the addition of the brilliant Flying Scooters, which sadly had problems during this visit. By the year 2000, I’m sure the staff, engineers etc. can make this a world class park. Okay so it isn’t 500 acres, but the park is big enough to build rides to compete with any big one!

I met loads of new people and some old faces(!) and with it being a small group, it was much easier to have fun than when 400 turn up. Also, the variation on ride activities, is better than everyone turning up for one ride and only getting a single turn. Some people can only afford certain trips and they want them to be special, not stuck in a queue all day, which you can easily do on a normal visit to, say Alton Towers.

I would like to thank Ray, Lynn, Chris McFarlane and everyone at Pleasureland for another classic trip. The Cyclone is one of the greatest coasters anywhere (even with those seatbelts!).


Matt Jones
I had been a member of the Club for just over a year and this was going to be my first Club trip. I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks, the only thing putting me off was having to get up early so that I could get on the M6 by 6am. There was no traffic on the motorway, so I easily made it to Southport by about 8am. I had never been to Southport before, so I didn’t know what to expect. When I saw the Cyclone for the first time I was pleasantly surprised as it was slightly bigger than I had expected. I was luckily picked to walk the track and couldn’t wait. We walked the track backwards (Ed: from the end of the track to the lift hill, you didn’t have to walk backwards!!!) and overall it took about 45 minutes. I managed to walk around the full circuit, which was very hard, as you don’t realise just how steep and slippy the drops are until you are half way up them. One thing that did surprise me is just how solid the structure is. Most people look at wooden coasters and don’t think they look very safe, but I can tell you that they are!

After this came the hour in the Fun House which was great fun, especially the battles some of us had in the ball pond. The later ERS on the Cyclone was brilliant. Most members had about ten rides and the opportunity to sit in any seat. This was my first time on the Cyclone and I thought it was an excellent coaster. I do prefer steel coasters myself (I still ride wooden as well) but this coaster was just as fun for me. Instead on starting fast and getting slower, this seemed to just get faster and faster!

After the nice hot lunch (fish ‘n’ chips) we went off to try the rest of the rides, and in the late afternoon we all walked over to the Go-Kart track. Next to the Go-Kart track you could see the old track from the first drop of the Big One which was interesting. The Go-Karts were a perfect finish to a great day. It was actually just as fun to watch as it was to drive them, as many members attempted power slides round the corners. There were a few crashes and a lot of under-steer around some corners (I think some members forgot where the brake was) but it was all in good fun.

To round it off, a great day, a great coaster, and a mad bunch of people (including Justin pretending to be the Cyclone operator). I can’t wait for late next year for when we can go back and have an ERS on the Cyclone and the SLC.


Justin Garvanovic
So, to the end of another very successful trip to Southport. As ever, I am extremely grateful to Chris McFarlane and Andy Preston who handled the entire trip from the Club side. From the park, again, it was Lynne Walker who did an amazing job organising the entire day for us. I announced during the trip that Lynne had recently received a well-earned promotion, so congratulations Lynne from everyone at the ECC.

Thanks also to Tony Corfield for finally being able to tell us all about the new Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster (SLC) that is to be built for the 1999 season. Details of our third “Hands On” weekend will soon be made available that will take in this new ride. So until next time…