The Scenic Railway Roller Coaster at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, South Beach Parade, Great Yarmouth, NR30 3EH


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Statutory Address:
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, South Beach Parade, Great Yarmouth, NR30 3EH

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

Great Yarmouth (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Scenic railway roller coaster of 1928, by Erich Heidrich, opening at Great Yarmouth in 1932. Maintenance sheds, the children's ride and the monorail ride are not included in the listing.

Reasons for Designation

The Roller Coaster, a wooden scenic railway type roller coaster of 1928, by Erich Heidrich, opening in Great Yarmouth in 1932, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Date and rarity: it is the second oldest in date of only two surviving scenic railway type roller coasters in Britain, after the Scenic Railway at Margate, (Grade II*, NHLE 1359602) and the third-oldest roller coaster in Britain, and the third of only six surviving pre-Second World War roller coasters nationally;

* Architectural interest: although much of the timber has been renewed through maintenance (and will continue to be), and the alpine scenery has been lost, the roller coaster retains its original configuration, and the rider experience is almost identical to when the ride first opened. It is an important element of Great Yarmouth's C20 seaside history, and it contributes towards the outstanding collection of Victorian, Edwardian and later entertainment architecture in Great Yarmouth;

* Historic interest: as the major surviving ride from Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, one of the earliest seaside amusement parks in Britain and one of only two early seaside amusement parks to have remained open continuously (along with Blackpool Pleasure Beach).


Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach was established in 1909, and included a scenic railway (a type of roller coaster that was usually clad with scenery fashioned in plaster, to give the rider the impression of riding through a picturesque landscape). The first scenic railway at the Pleasure Beach was placed there under lease - a common arrangement at the time. It was destroyed by fire in 1919 but was soon rebuilt. In 1928 when the lease expired, it was dismantled and moved to Aberdeen.

The current scenic railway roller coaster was designed and manufactured in 1928 by Erich Heidrich of Hamburg. Between 1928 and 1931 Pat Collins, the owner of Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, visited Paris and saw the Scenic Railway in use, possibly at the Colonial Exposition. Collins bought the ride, and it was shipped to England in 1932, and erected by a team of German labourers.

The new scenic railway opened in April 1932 and became the Pleasure Beach's main attraction. Another fire in 1935 necessitated the rebuilding of the structure and in the 1970s the south end of the roller coaster collapsed and was rebuilt. The original rendered cladding from which the alpine scenes were fashioned had also perished and was replaced by sheet steel panelling in the late 1970s which was painted with mountain scenes. In 1982 the band Madness filmed part of their video for "House of Fun" on the roller coaster and the mountain scenery on the panels can be seen. From the late C20 the roller coaster has been painted blue with a stars and stripes motif.

The Scenic Railway Roller Coaster remains in much the same configuration as the 1930s structure but there is a rolling programme of maintenance and timber replacement, and in June 2016 it was estimated that around 85% of the timbers had been replaced over the years, and the timber posts to the safety railings were undergoing a programme to sheathe them in fibreglass to protect them from the weather.

The erection of the Scenic Railway Roller Coaster in 1932 closely follows the building of the Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake in 1928 (NHLE 1001618) .


A scenic railway roller coaster of 1928, by Erich Heidrich, opening at Great Yarmouth in 1932.

MATERIALS: timber posts on concrete pads, with iron reinforcements to the timber structure, iron tracks and sheet steel cladding. The safety railings have been partially clad with fibreglass.

PLAN: linear on plan, orientated roughly north-south, with loops at each end, and crossing over in the centre.

EXTERIOR: a timber lattice structure with timber posts on concrete pads supporting double loops and crossover sections with iron tracks of various dates. The cladding, added in the late 1970s is painted sheet steel.

A large chain on a steep incline to the rear (east) raises the linked cars*, thereafter the roller coaster operates on gravity, and the rider experiences a series of exhilarating deep plunges, followed by further smaller plunges. The speed of the ride is controlled, and the ride ultimately stopped, by a brakeman riding on the vehicle.

The station on the west side has planked walkways and late-C20 storage and maintenance sheds* are located within the loops. A C21 children's ride* is interwoven with the rollercoaster at low level, and part of the monorail ride* occupies the same space at high level; the sheet steel cladding at the south end is pierced to allow the monorail to pass through.

Although continued maintenance has necessitated replacement of many structural parts, the roller coaster retains the 1932 configuration of the original scenic railway.

* Pursuant to s. 1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the aforementioned items, (namely the maintenance sheds, the linked cars, the children's ride and the monorail ride) are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Books and journals
Brodie, A, Winter, G, England’s Seaside Resorts, (2007)
Ferry, Kathryn, Powerhouses of Provincial Architecture 1837-1914, (2009), 45-58
Pearson, L F , The People's Places Britain's Seaside Pleasure Buildings, (1991), 53-65
Pevsner, N, Wilson, B, The Buildings of England: Norfolk: 1 Norwich and North-East, (2002), 488-529
Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society website, accessed 21/07/2016 from!The Scenic Railway 1946/zoom/cncg/imagebvd
The Development of Seaside Amusement Parks and Rides, 2015 Allan Brodie


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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