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White Knuckle Weekend 7
Blackpool Pleasure Beach


2-4th July 2004



John Livesey
Our seventh trip to Blackpool was definitely tinged with sadness due to the untimely deaths of Geoffrey and Mrs. L.D.Thompson as well as the unfortunate fire that damaged the Grand National station.

We were due to take part in the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Sir Hiram Maxim’s Flying Machine, and PBB had asked us to dress up in period costumes or anything “Biggles.” I was so pleased when I saw around 30 members dressed either in flying gear or dresses/suits from the turn of the century. The event was almost a disaster due to the high winds present during the morning, but just after lunch, the wind abated, and we managed to stage an unofficial ERS on the ride.

On the Saturday, the Big One ERS was cancelled due to the blustery winds. As a stroke of genius, BPB decided to switch the days round, so that we got the Big Dipper and Wild Mouse on Saturday and PMBO on Sunday. The day went off without a hitch, and we all enjoyed great hospitality as usual. Sunday was nearly Big One-less, but fortunately the ride did open after a short delay. PBB offered us the Revolution as an alternative, which was greatly received!

Overall the trip was a great success, and I’d like to offer my thanks to all the staff at BPB. Can’t wait for next year!

Damian Staples
The trip also helped me overcome my fear of going upside down, and I have the Revolution ERS to thank!

Mark Riley
Well, this weekend’s WKW7 was great fun!  Thanks to everyone who dressed up and made the weekend even more fun.  Also, thanks to the Pleasure Beach and Dolly who were, again, fantastic.

Margaret Drinkwater
With the three pieces of news of sad events concerning Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the preceding weeks, I was wondering how the general atmosphere of the club’s annual White Knuckle Weekend would be affected.

As it turned out, nature took a hand in dictating our activities. Early on Saturday morning a 55mph wind meant that five rides were not operating, including our scheduled ERS on the Big One. With all credit to the BPB staff our ERS was swiftly replaced with the Sunday rides on Big Dipper and Wild Mouse.

In respect to Geoffrey and Doris Thompson, Richard and Justin had planned to keep a one minute’s silence prior to our first ERS. Somehow we could thank the bad weather on this occasion as it seemed so much more appropriate to remember them at one of the park’s historic rides.

The other special event of the weekend was the Saturday midday celebration of the centenary of the Maxim’s Flying Machines. A dozen or so male Club members donned Biggles outfits and were ably supported by the female contingent in historic dress. Blackpool’s Mayor and several Civic Society members (who were also dressed up for the occasion) joined together with Pleasure Beach staff to follow a brass band from the Hot Ice Arena building down to the ride.

During the speeches Justin made his presentation of a framed photograph of the Flying Machine ride as it was when installed. This was to have been given to Geoffrey Thompson but went instead to his wife Barbara. This was another poignant moment.

Then followed an unveilling of a plaque, an explosion of paper pieces and the presentation of a huge cake which was devoured as dessert at the following lunch. Many photographs were taken of the costumed persons but alas the planes remained stationary due to the wind conditions, but began flight after lunch.

The charred Grand National station was a constant visual reminder of the park’s third loss, but it was clear this was being diligently restored by dedicated workers. It is due to be running again by the end of August.

The rest of the weekend was familiar WKW material and was very enjoyable as always.

New developments at the park were spin ride Bling, which seemed to be having a few operational problems, and the recently renovated Space Invader indoor coaster. This was a huge improvement on the old ride with comfortable new three-seater cars and a wonderfully smooth track.

To sum up I would say that there were enough reminders to keep us respectfully mindful of the sad events without spoiling the traditional fun of the Club’s Blackpool Pleasure Beach weekend.

As ever a big thank you to all the ECC team responsible for planning the weekend.

Carl Dickson
Well what can I say. Another Blackpool White Knuckle Weekend which was, yet again, a great time for fun and mayhem… and there was plenty of that. I only wish I had the funds to attend every single Club trip, because they all just keep getting better and better, and are so much fun.

For me, the weekend started on Friday evening with a gruelling 8 hour overnight coach journey to Blackpool. I left London at 11:30pm, and arrived at 7:30am Saturday morning feeling pretty shattered. National Express overnight coach services are nice, cheap, and useful so long as you can put up with the horrendous long haul treks.

The meeting time was 8:30am so I left my luggage at The Big Blue Hotel and took a quick look around it. I was certainly impressed. Dolly and another PBB staff member who were in the hotel spotted my ECC jacket, while I sat in the reception area, and offered me a free cup of tea from the breakfast room which I thought was really nice of them. Pleasure Beach hospitality is superb.

After meeting everyone at The Star and collecting badges vouchers etc, it was off to the first ERS at the Big Dipper and Wild Mouse. The Big One was meant to be first, but the winds were just too high.

Before the ERS started, it was decided that a 1 minutes silence would be held in memory of the sad passing of Doris Thompson and her son Geoffrey Thompson (owner of the Pleasure Beach). This was a very moving experience.

The Big Dipper ERS was great fun, but there was a security invasion halfway through as it came to our attention that cameras are now banned from the rides. If you ask me, PBB are taking their new rule a bit too seriously. It reminded me a bit about my Adventure Island Southend incident, where I got into trouble with security for filming OFF the rides. I ended up having to sign a form saying that I had permission to film even though this was a holiday video! All very silly indeed!!!

At 12:00 we had the Flying Machines parade and celebrations. A lot of us, including myself, got changed into Biggles or period costume, and met up at the Arena for lots of photo taking. The parade began and we were led to the ride by a brass band, Bradley Beaver, and some very nice looking Hot Ice dancers dressed in tight blue leotards! There was a long speech by a member of the council, a plaque was unveiled, Justin made a presentation to Barbara Thompson, and finally a birthday cake was cut accompanied by an explosion of confetti. The event was simply superb. The best bit was the looks on peoples faces as we paraded, and several spectators shouting “Chocks Away.” It just made me smile.

The evening ERS was on the Rollercoaster. Again camera rules caused trouble as a train I was on was stopped on the lifthill. These little things do spoil it a bit.

At the Sunday morning meeting at The Star, we all waited with baited breath for the news that The Big One was going to run. It was looking dodgy at first, so the very kind staff at PBB included The Revolution as part of the ERS package. So at first we had The Steeplechase and The Revolution, before finally at last The Big One opened to a mad rush of ECC’ers all dying for a ride!

The food was absolutely wonderful as usual. A roast chicken dinner followed by birthday cake at The Paradise Rooms on Saturday, and as much pizza and pasta as we could eat at The Italian Job on Sunday. Yum Yum!!!!

On the show front, I decided to go and see the Ken Webster show with Terry Jarvis, Brian Smith, Crystal Fryer Kelsey, and her friend Shane. Shane went up on stage and got hypnotised. The things he did were outrageous! I think this is the best show at PBB at I will be definately seeing it again soon.

To end, I will just say that this has probably been the best weekend in Blackpool I think I’ve ever had. It could have been even better if I had the chance to do the bungee jump I wanted to do, but I decided to do it as a finale and when I went over to the south pier the SCAD / Bungee Tower was closed. Damn! Oh well, I’ll just do it next time I’m in Blackpool, which will probably be pretty soon if the Grand National re-opens in August!

Huge thanks to all the ECC team for organising another brilliant trip, and to PBB for their excellent hospitality. Pleasure Beach Blackpool truly is the best park in England.

See you all on the next fun-filled event!

John Livesey
Good to see those who were there for the Flying Machine’s 100th Birthday.

I’d like to say a very big thanks to all those that made the effort to dress up for the occasion. I know it meant a lot to Amanda and Barbara Thompson to see that we had made the effort despite the poor weather.

Personally I thought it was a lot of fun and it was worth it just for the looks we got from the General Public…

Was a very good trip overall and can’t wait for the next one!