Blue Flyer rollercoaster (originally the Zipper Dipper)

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1436894

Date first listed: 19-Apr-2017

Statutory Address: Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Ocean Boulevard, Promenade, Blackpool, FY4 1EZ

Map

Ordnance survey map of Blue Flyer rollercoaster (originally the Zipper Dipper)
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

Statutory Address: Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Ocean Boulevard, Promenade, Blackpool, FY4 1EZ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Blackpool (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: SD3067033165

Summary

A wooden children’s rollercoaster of 1934 by the Dayton Fun House and Riding Device and Manufacturing Company, overseen by Charles Paige, with a C21 station.

Reasons for Designation

The Blue Flyer (originally the Zipper Dipper), a wooden children’s rollercoaster built in 1934, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Date and rarity: as one of only six pre-Second World War wooden rollercoasters in the country, and the second-oldest children’s rollercoaster in the world; * Historic interest: as an important and evocative representative of popular amusement for children and a key family attraction in the inter-war development of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the internationally significant amusement park; * Survival: the track’s original configuration and essential character have been retained; * Group value: with the other listed structures at the Pleasure Beach, in particular the other family amusements: Sir Hiram Maxim’s Captive Flying Machine (Grade II, National Heritage List for England 1436214) and Noah’s Ark (Grade II, NHLE 1436474).

History

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the best-known permanent amusement park in the country, and with its five wooden and five steel tracks has been called the rollercoaster capital of the United Kingdom. Evolving through a partnership between two operators who first brought rides to this shoreline in 1894 and 1896, the Pleasure Beach has always been at the forefront in rollercoaster technology and development, and has successfully renewed its offer over the last 110 years. However, there is no other park that still reflects so much of the history of this industry.

The Blue Flyer was constructed in 1934 (as the Zipper Dipper), just after Charles Paige designed the Roller Coaster, to which it is immediately adjacent. Located in the children’s area of the park, it is the second oldest children’s rollercoaster in the world (after the Kiddie Coaster of 1927-8 at Playland Park, New York county).

Paige oversaw the construction, to plans by the Dayton Fun House and Riding Device and Manufacturing Company (later the National Amusement Device Corporation) with which John A Miller was associated at this time. The plans, mechanical equipment and a sample car cost $1,500. The children’s park was updated in 1934, replacing the ‘Bingle and Bob’ children’s playground which had first opened in 1924 as an innovation of William Bean, one of the Pleasure Beach’s founders. The construction of the children’s rollercoaster was a key component of this updated attraction catering to families, along with Joseph Emberton’s crèche (demolished), but Emberton’s concrete station for this rollercoaster has been completely replaced. The name of the ride was changed to the Blue Flyer in 2011, as part of the new Nickelodeon Land project; it has also previously been known as the Kiddie Coaster, Little Dipper, Mini Coaster and Warburtons Milk Roll-A-Coaster.

Details

A children’s rollercoaster of 1934 by the Dayton Fun House and Riding Device and Manufacturing Company, overseen by Charles Paige, with a C21 station.

MATERIALS: timber with metal fixings and station fittings.

PLAN: orientated broadly N-S, on an elongated, reverse L-shaped loop with the station on the W side and an overall length of 1,099ft.

DESCRIPTION: the station superstructure* comprises a concrete and steel frame, faced with textured metal panels stacked in sinuous layers. From the station the lift hill rises to the N to a height of c15ft, at which it turns 180 degrees to the right before descending through three gentle dips and crests. It then turns to the right again, entering a tunnel through the building* that formerly housed the Space Invader steel rollercoaster, rising and turning through 270 degrees before exiting and turning 90 degrees to the left and gently descending to the station.

The track sits atop two parallel vertical grids of timber, whose varying height causes the track to rise and fall. The two grids are connected and braced by horizontal timbers, and diagonal bracing runs between the grids and between the timbers of each grid. The rails comprise layered timber boards, along the top of which is fixed a shallow metal strip on which the running wheels rest. Similar strips run along the inner face for the side-friction wheels. The motor is housed in a wooden hut between the lift hill and the first descent.

MAPPING NOTE: some sections of the ride pass beneath/through other structures; these sections are described in the text above and are included in the listing, but have not been mapped.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the aforementioned items are not of special architectural or historic interest.

Sources

Books and journals
Bennett, Peter, Blackpool Pleasure Beach - A Century of Fun, (1996), 64
Brodie, Allan, Whitfield, Matthew, Blackpool's Seaside Heritage, (2014), 82-9
Toulmin, Professor Vanessa, Blackpool Pleasure Beach: more than just an amusement park, (2011), 47, 129
Walton, John K, Riding on Rainbows, (2007), 46-59
Websites
Roller Coaster Database entry, accessed 17/06/16 from http://rcdb.com/797.htm
Other
The Development of Seaside Amusement Parks and Rides, 2015, Allan Brodie

End of official listing