By Phil Gould
Opened in 1863 the station was originally known as Hounds Hill but renamed Central Station in 1878. At the start of the 20th century it was extended to 14 platforms because of the sheer volume of traffic coming into the resort. For many holidaymakers getting off the trains in the shadow of the resort’s famous Tower signalled the start of their annual vacation.
Despite the increasing dominance of the motor car the station remained a well used facility up until its sudden closure in November 1964. This came as part of the sweeping changes recommended by Dr Beeching. It was a surprise to some as, apparently, Beeching had recommended that the town’s North Station should be closed. The town council had long discussed a scheme to redevelop this site and now it had the perfect opportunity. Surprisingly the buildings on the site were not demolished until the early 70s; when this happened it left a space slap bang in the centre of the town. So it was decided to fill this with fairground rides, albeit on a temporary basis. Marshalls from Brighouse provided their Dodgems, Big Wheel, Hurricane Jets and Doubtfire’s supplied one of their smart Waltzers.
Marshall’s continental jets at Central Station ground in the 70s
General scene at Central Station ground in 70s
Rides changed from season to season on this prime site. Tenants included Joe White, from Cheshire, with his upright Paratrooper and Octopus, Brinley Gore’s platform Twist and Lawrence Silcock jnr’s Mack Ski Jump – this ride had originally been at the town’s Pleasure Beach – also put in an appearance.
But the ride which created the most interest was to turn up for the 1976 season, which was probably the last year a fair operated on the site. This was unlike any ride that had been seen before in the UK – Marshall’s Everest. One of only four manufactured by French firm Reverchon the ride was certainly spectacular. It had 16 cars travelling over an undulating track. As the ride picked up speed the operator used air rams to tilt the cars – it was a cross between a Mont Blanc and a superbob. The centre over the ride had three dimensional scenery of an alpine scene and was covered in lights. Although this type of decoration was commonplace in Europe it was a complete novelty for this country at the time. The World’s Fair featured a colour picture and description of the ride on its front page with the headline Marshall’s Conquer Everest.
The Coral Island complex, which opened on the site of the Central Station amusement park in 1978. Picture: Nick Laister