By Phil Gould
In the late 60s Blackpool Council decided it was time to upgrade the Golden Mile as many of the stalls and attractions were past their sell by date and looked tatty or just plain rundown.
One of the first of the new generation of buildings to spring up was the Golden Mile Centre which was built not far from the Central Pier. It was operated by the Blackpool Tower Co and opened up for business in 1968. On the ground floor, which was carpeted throughout, you could find two children’s rides a Jackson-built set of miniature gallopers and a Bennett manufactured set of Comet Jets. These were surrounded by scores of slot machines. And when you took the escalator up to the first floor there was a funfair.
The main attractions were a large set of Dodgems with wooden rounding boards, a brand new Waltzer which was built by H P Jackson of Congleton. It had a flat roof and fluorescent tube lights. There was also a full size set of Gallopers that at first glance looked like they had been built decades before. In fact they were brand new and the horses were not carved from wood but made from fibreglass, They had been built by Scunthorpe-based Modern Products. The company made quite a show of this new concept and the ride was featured heavily in the World’s Fair when it reported on the centre’s opening.
Silcock & Hill’s Waltzer
Cubbins Skyline Slip
Furthest away from the promenade windows was a double decker Ghost Train. I would hazard a guess that it was built by Supercar as it was very similar to the ride which travelled with Pat Collins fairs in the 60s. There was also a square lattice Helter Skelter. To add to the decoration of the building they had balloons and flags hanging from the ceiling.
At various times there were rides outside the Golden Mile Centre too, built next to the promenade. There was a small Astroglide, Dodgems and possibly another Waltzer. These were joined by children’s rides such as a Supercar roller coaster. But for some reason I never seemed to pay this spot that much attention.
In the early 80s there were changes at the venue. I think a member of the Cubbins family took over looking after the fair in the Golden Mile Centre. The Waltzer, Dodgems and Gallopers were all removed. The latter ride might have stood outside for some time before being moved to the Winter Gardens fair in Morecambe. A modern Dodgem track was installed which had perspex rounding boards. Another new arrival was an American Scrambler Twist which had pretty basic decoration. The final new ride was a Looper ride. These are pretty rare in the UK and are a flat ride which has circular cars on the end of arms. Riders sit opposite each other and start rocking the cars. As the ride increases the speed it is possible to roll the cars over so that they loop the loop. Some modern versions of this ride have a mechanism that can be used by the ride operator which makes the cars spin over by themselves. It’s a bit like sitting in washing machine when it is on the spin cycle. I’m not sure how long this fair stayed in place but these days the upstairs floor of the Golden Mile Centre is the home to the Sea Life Centre.