2 December, 2019

A walk down memory lane

Local specialist contractors, Coombs (Canterbury) Ltd, in partnership with Thanet District Council, are bringing history to life in celebration of the 2019 Turner Prize Award Ceremony, being held at Dreamland Margate. 

On Tuesday 3 December, the winner of Turner Prize 2019 will be announced live on the BBC in a televised ceremony held in Hall-by-the-Sea. On the evening, the 1935 entrance hall of the famous seafront building will act as a walkway to Hall-by-the-Sea inside Dreamland Margate. This entrance route, specifically the door beyond the foyer to the ballroom, has not been used for 30 years.

Coombs, who were responsible for major restoration and redevelopment works at Dreamland between 2009 and 2017 were on site last month installing lighting, handrails and knocking a wall down between the back of the vacant Cinema building and the Hall-by-the Sea.

Nick Bushell, Contracts Manager at Coombs, who also lives in Margate, said:

“Dreamland has a unique position in history and in the memories of generations of local people. We’re pleased to be once again working with Thanet District Council and Dreamland and hope to give guests of the 2019 Turner Prize awards ceremony a taster of what the grand entrance route was like.

“As a local resident, like many of our team and members of our supply chain who worked on the previous phases, it’s been rewarding to be involved at Dreamland and directly contribute to such an important part of our local community.”

The Grade II* listed Dreamland Cinema opened in 1935 to wide acclaim. It is a unique combination of Northern-European Expressionist brickwork and American-style neon signage.

One of the purposes of the Cinema design was to provide a grand ceremonial entrance to the Dreamland Ballroom which opened in the 1880s and has seen many famous acts in its 135 year history. The entrance route took guests past the Dreamland Bars and the Sunshine Cafe, through a top-lit ticket hall, past the stalls of the Cinema and down a wide staircase with a view of the Ballroom stage. The whole sequence was designed to impress the visitor. 

In 1977, the ballroom was converted into squash courts. The ceremonial route was blocked in 1990, and subsequently the stalls foyer was filled with partitions. The ballroom, now called the Hall-by-the-Sea, sits within the Dreamland amusement park and hosts music and leisure events for thousands of revellers throughout the year.

Tim Willis, Deputy Chief Executive at Thanet District Council said:

“We are incredibly proud of Dreamland’s rich history and grateful to Coombs for agreeing to do this work and give guests a trip down memory lane. 

Described as the heartbeat of Margate, Dreamland is considered the oldest surviving amusement park in the UK dating back to the early 1860s. Hosting the Turner Prize Awards Ceremony is another great coup for the park and helps celebrate Thanet as a key cultural destination.”

The Turner Prize is one of the best known prizes for the visual arts in the world and the exhibition has attracted over 90,000 visitors since opening to the public on 28 September 2019. This year’s winner will be announced by Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful OBE.


Photo courtesy of Frank Leppard

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