Buying memories: Pleasure Island comes under the hammer
For generations of Yorkshire holidaymakers, it was their summer playground.
And for the many with fond memories of Pleasure Island at Cleethorpes, now is the chance to buy a piece of history as hundreds of fittings and fixtures from the legendary theme park go up for auction.
Fancy Shrieksville, a ghost ride, with macabre skeletons in shrouds and ghoulish graveyard scenes? Yours for £60,000 to £80,000. Or maybe, from the Tommy Tinkaboo sweet factory, an indoors water-boat ride for young children, a candy throne, a Toffee Head in a satin suit and bow-tie, or even a cow with startled expression and large bony rump, connected up to a Chocolate Mixing Machine.
The vertical Para Tower ride, which used to take thrill-seekers into the air in a metal basket before suddenly dropping them, faces an ignominious end - on offer for a couple of thousand pounds for scrap.
But without a doubt the star lot is the 114-year-old carousel.
With flowing golden manes and red saddles, the 36 horses, forever frozen in mid-gallop and teeth bared in a silent neigh, could be heading to a theme park in China.
“We have over 1,260 lots, so everyone has a chance of buying something. The minimum bid is £10,” said auctioneer Carl Vince, of Prestige Auctions. “Absolutely everything will sell. There are fun items that are going to create talking points. The carousel could go to another business, another theme park. We’ve had interest from a wedding hire company.
“My least favourite - but it is an option - is that it could end up going to China.”
Going from Old England through the battlements into Morocco, the park, which closed after 23 years in 2016, has a forlorn air, weeds poking up between the paving and the wind whistling past shuttered arcades.
Here and there the towering walls - wire mesh coated in concrete - are beginning to crumble and vandals have been at work. There are the charred timbers of a wooden bungalow burned to the ground last year and smashed windows. Staff even found a skeleton which had been dragged out into the open from the ghost ride.
In the food court where the auction will be held over two days on March 7 to 8 - Mr Vince does not want to rush it - bendy mirrors are to one side and dozens of signs on the other. “Imploding Sherbert Powder Gobble de Gloop” announces one. “Authorised Toffee Heads only” warns another.
“How much they will make I have no idea, but realistically it will be £30 to £50,” said Mr Vince, who fancies the “Beware No Eating - The Staff” sign for his auction house.
About 5,000 people are expected for the viewing days on March 5 to 6, and as many as 300 for the auction. Another 700 will be bidding online.
Laura Collins is among those with memories of Pleasure Island and remembers the anticipation of watching the rides going up behind the caravan park her family stayed in. She was among the army of casual workers taken on each summer to fund her way through university.
She said: “It still makes me feel nostalgic now thinking about the tune the carousel made as the horses pranced and the sound of the rollercoaster, the Boomerang, when it hit the top of the track.”