Monday, 5 December 2011


Margate will be getting a “dream” this Christmas, with the lighting up of part of the iconic Dreamland sign along the seafront.

The existing lamps in the Dreamland lettering along the side of the Cinema building are being replaced with LED white lighting by Thanet District Council’s contractors, Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd. The new lights will be more energy efficient and have minimal maintenance costs.

It is planned that the word “dream” will be lit nightly for the festive period from Friday 16 December until Sunday 1 January 2012. The work is being paid for by money that the council received in 2009 from the Sea Change Fund through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr. Bob Bayford, said: “I’m sure residents will be eagerly looking forward to seeing the Dreamland sign, which has been a focal point in the town for many years, lit up once again. It’s a great Christmas present and no doubt a “dream” come true for many people, who want to see the site being brought back into use. That’s what we’re trying to achieve, in partnership with the Dreamland Trust, and this is another step towards that aim.”

The Dreamland Cinema building was opened in 1935 and contained a 2,200 seat cinema, ballroom, restaurants and lounges, but today it is a sad shadow of its former self. The roof of the cinema has been leaking, leading to damage in the cinema, bingo hall and amusement arcade. Additionally, a burst water pipe in the tea bar of the bingo hall caused further damage to the building.

The council’s contractors have been carrying out major repairs to the grade II* listed Cinema building since May 2011. The work was started after a series of Urgent Works Notices were served on the owners of the building earlier this year. To date, the contractors have been carrying out re-pointing and structural repairs to the steel frame and concrete, and to the doors and windows. Some of the roof structure has also had to be replaced, due to its poor condition. The work is expected to be completed by spring 2012.

Cllr. Bayford added: “While this is a great step forward, unfortunately we’ve discovered that the extent of the work required to preserve the Cinema building is greater than we had originally anticipated. Sadly, this beautiful listed building has been left to fall into worse disrepair than we had thought and that has only become clear once our contractors were able to get on site and assess exactly what was needed.”

The majority of the exterior work to the Cinema building has now been completed, with the next phase due to look at the interior. This will include restoring power to the organ, which has not been used since power was cut off to it in 2005. Once power is restored, the council will be inviting David Wattenbach, who rebuilt the organ following the 1987 hurricane, to assess its condition.

 The council is working in partnership with the Dreamland Trust to create a world first for the site, an amusement park of thrilling historic rides, with classic side shows, cafés, restaurants, special events, festivals and gardens. It will also celebrate the British seaside and popular culture, with a focus on youth cultural heritage. As well as the Sea Change money, the project received £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund in November 2011 and Thanet District Council is also contributing £3 million to the scheme.

A public inquiry into the council's plans to compulsorily purchase the Dreamland site will be held at the council offices starting on 10 January 2012. 

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